Sunday, October 26, 2008
It's an exciting time to be alive. Growing up as a horror movie devote, I always rued the fact that I wasn't of movie-going age in the 80's. What was great about that time period is that they had a ton of horror movie franchises, where they'd shit a new one out like every year. Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, they were cranking those out on a regular basis, like clockwork. You knew that every year, you'd get to see Jason Vorhees's newest adventure.
So I've been pretty excited about the Saw series, I feel like I'm getting the experience I sorely lacked for years. It's great to know, for the time being, that there will be a new one next October. I love it. And, I mean, don't get me wrong, I also enjoy these movies. The first one was a skillful (if ridiculous) horror/thriller, and the rest have been gleefully absurd trash. And after the sublime insanity of parts III and IV, I was pretty stoked for V to take it to the next level.
Sadly, it didn't. Don't get me wrong, I still liked this one. In fact, it's a better movie than Saw II was. It just didn't up the ante with the crazy-insane plot. No ridiculous cliffhanger ending. Nothing like at the end of IV where it turns out that everything was happening simultaneously with part III. This is a far more low key event.
In fact, this feels less like a full-fledged sequel and more like an interlude. There isn't as much story development. It's the shortest film in the series. Mostly what it does is fill in Hoffman's backstory, explaining how he got hooked up with Jigsaw. This provides some Saw III style fun where we get flashbacks to the other movies' timelines, showing how Hoffman was actually involved, setting up the house trap in part II for example.
Part V has a new director, different from the last 3 movies, and his debut here is nothing great, but I did appreciate the slight change in style. The guy who did the last 3, Bousman, his style was polished, but over the top, especially with the lighting. His movies looked good, but then he would go all retarded in the editing room and throw in a bunch of fast forwards and slo-mos and whooshes and flashes and all that shit. Basically, neat cinematography ruined by ADHD editing. This new fellow, Hackl, dispenses with a lot of that editing nonsense (well, not all of it, this is a Saw movie, after all), and is actually willing to build a moment or hold a shot for a few seconds. He also has a much less ornate, handheld style that feels... not exactly grittier than the other movies, but you know what I mean. I dug that.
(On the downside, though, his style never gets hilariously over-blown like Bousman's. So there aren't any of those ridiculous scene transitions where someone breaks a window and the camera whips through it and is magically transported to a different scene.)
So we have somewhat different visual approach, and the plot deals more with a good detective facing off with a bad detective, and as a result this one feels a little less like a horror movie and a little more like a crime movie (albeit, a weird and graphically violent crime movie). The series has, in a weird way, gone from horror/thriller to film noir.
Anyways, there was enough here that I enjoyed that I'm still on board for part VI (only 12 short months away!), but it's a step down from the last two. It has a nifty ending, although it doesn't reach the amazing levels of convolution that the last three films did, and there wasn't much of a twist. From what I'm reading online, it's possible that they are setting up some major craziness for the next entry, and I've heard some weird theories. So maybe if this is all building to some nutcase twist in part VI, then this one will seem better in retrospect. As it stands, it delivers the goods but feels slight compared to the last two.