Things have gotten quieter lately on the graphic suffering front, but the eighth entry in the Saw franchise arrives this weekend after a seven-year dormant period for the franchise, hoping to rekindle your interest in torture tourism. Were the Saw movies actually good enough to merit bringing this beast back out of retirement?
John Kramer, played by Tobin Bell wanted to weed out the deviants and the ungrateful — but he typically gave victims a chance to redeem themselves and reclaim their souls with a fresh perspective on how to truly cherish the gift of life.
None of these movies is good compared to, say, The Shining, but compared to one another, there are true winners and losers here. Saw 3D Signature device: The flashbacks are constant, filling in the ever-retconned backstory of John Kramer and his minions.
The death traps come at such a rapid pace, you wonder who has time to set up all these elaborate games, one of which features the late Chester Bennington not saying one line, but rather, screaming through an entire scene. Meanwhile, Bobby the poseur has to work through a murder labyrinth to save his wife, but that game is mostly a distraction from the fact that Dr.
Lawrence Gordon Cary Elwes from the first Saw has resurfaced — and is revealed as an accomplice of Jigsaw from the very beginning. Gordon — down one foot because he had to hacksaw one off to survive his death game — resurfacing as a top Jigsaw disciple just makes everyone in this universe seem far too willing to join forces with a man who mutilated them in the name of tough love. Saw IV Signature device: But there are limits to entertaining brutality, and IV crosses them.
Jigsaw victims in this chapter are punished for offenses like child abuse and sex crimes, and if violence is going to be your calling card, you have to make a choice: You thought Donnie Wahlberg died in II? None of this even has anything to do with the A plot, which is that SWAT guy Reggie — who was introduced in II — now has to survive a Jigsaw game to save a pair of fellow officers.
Also, even though the movie begins with the body of John Kramer being autopsied, the movie whiplashes you in the climax, revealing that IV actually took place in a concurrent timeline with III, with the characters and narratives colliding in the triage operating theater featured in that third movie. Despite how assaulting they are, Saw movies are actually best binged like a TV show — think of it as American Horror Black Mirror Story — because there are so many threads to hold on to, you need to watch as fast as possible to keep up.
It just starts to feel like cheap tricks. Jigsaw Signature device: Saw cleans up pretty well in these modern times: This is the first movie that actually looks sort of expensive, and it trades the sickening green color palette of the first seven efforts for actual daylight. Based on a visible license plate, it looks like Saw takes place in New Jersey, and Jigsaw finally makes the state look like something other than a dreary companion universe to Silent Hill.
The main game in the torture barn drags, with long gaps between rounds of punishment. The seventh sequel is not an unwelcome entry, but it does hang around the low-middle of the pack.
Saw V Signature device: The blood-collecting table saw This one is fun because its central conflict is purely entertaining. That is a lot of narrative stacking, and further emphasizes the serial-TV nature of the franchise, which is both a pro and a con.
The main game in V, though, is one of the best: Saw III Signature device: Amanda is now fully part of the story as his lieutenant, working to become his successor after his terminal cancer finally claims him.
III is particularly plot-heavy: The man Jeff encounters drowning in a vat of freshly milled, rotting pig intestines is the franchise at peak gross. Related Stories Vulture Asks: What Are the Best Revenge Movies? As with all Saw movies, every element is connected, but by III, the plot starts requiring some yarn to keep track of. How many tasks can a few serial killers possibly take on? The answer is, more than you could possibly imagine. There are extra points for emotional nuance, and that keeps III from drowning in an ocean of sameness.
On the downside, Dina Meyer dies in the rib separator , and she is missed. Saw VI Signature device: The acid injector A very entertaining thing happens in the sixth movie: Saw tunes into society at large and focuses its punishment on predatory lenders and amoral insurance companies.
Pretty much everyone put through a Jigsaw test in this movie earns their living by exploiting high-risk mortgage recipients or revoking medical insurance from people with preexisting conditions.
Saw was always a morality tale, but VI lines up the hammer and hits the nail square on the head. A police detective who has taken over as the heir to Jigsaw is trying to outsmart the FBI. One presumed-dead character comes back, and there are lots of flashbacks to Team Jigsaw rigging traps together that were showcased earlier in the franchise. Saw II Signature device: A bunch of people in a huge torture maze have to find their way out by following all of the sacred rules.
Saw Signature device: The iconic reverse bear trap Upon revisitation, the original Saw is practically quaint compared to the rest of the series, which levels up the gore and transforms the simple starting plot into a Byzantine rat maze of interlocking and overlapping narratives.
In Saw, Cary Elwes plays Dr. As with all Jigsaw games, the men must perform extreme acts of mental and physical violence to prove that they deserve their lives. The elaborate devices constructed to inflict pain were innovative at the time. The scenes in the parking garage and the dark apartment, lit only by camera flashes, remain chilling. Saw holds a deserving place in horror-film history.