horror franchise

SAW-TOBER PART 07: SAW VII [2010]

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Well, we knew it was coming, and now it’s here: the final SAW movie. After this post, I will be back to regular posts, but I feel like we accomplished something: seven days, seven SAW films. Was it worth the time? Were some of the movies better than other ones? For sure, but with this being the last one, [at least until the new one comes out] It’s time to see if it was all worth it – at least to wrap things up..

SAW VII, or SAW 3D: The Final Chapter as it was marketed, was like each of its predecessors, so consumed with its inventive, big idea judgment scenes  that it moves away from actual mechanics and story telling in order for a story to work. Because of this, what we ended up left with is a extremely broken movie that attempted to weave violence/gore with awkward/meaningless dialogue which ultimately, gave us a less than mediocre movie. It sounds fitting, but at the same time, it’s sad in a way; the supposed final installment tries to work overtime trying to tie a cohesive string [“storyline”] through all the previous movies.

So who are we following this time? Enter Bobby: a Jigsaw survivor turned motivational speaker and book writer who is touring the country in support of his new book which details his near-death escape from the trials and traps he had to endure. Meanwhile, Jigsaw’s widow Jill [I told you she’d come back as an important character!] has turned to Detective Gibson in a final attempt to save her own life. As we came to expect, her husband’s former partner Hoffman has turned against her, and she’s willing to spill details of the entire Jigsaw operation in exchange for immunity. It’s a request Detective Gibson quickly accepts, but that’s possibly because of a new Jigsaw murder and the untimely promise of a new game.

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As you may have probably already guessed, the latest victim turns out to be Bobby, and what follows is a complicated story-line that somehow managed to tie all six of the previous films. Yes, the SAW universe is brought full circle. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as appealing as more hardcore fans of the series would have suspected. The inclusion of a ‘full circle’ lies solely on a Jigsaw support group that’s been formed. [if you look at the group, you can see other survivors from previous movies!] The group is filmed publicly as publicity for Bobby’s book, and this breach in confidentially provides the setup for one final Jigsaw game. [Also, Doctor Gordon shows up!] I won’t go into extreme details about the trials and tribulations that Bobby has to endure, but I will say it does feature arguably, the most mechanically-complicated torture chambers. SERIOUSLY. It would have taken the entire Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team at least two weeks working around the clock to put all these traps together, which is why the SAW franchise really needs to stop. No one could do all this in a matter of days, I don’t care who you say could. It’s impossible.

The important thing to note about SAW 3D: The Final Chapter is that it is more a commentary on itself and its place in popular film culture rather than another addition. As expected, Bobby is punished – not for cheating on his girlfriend or killing some hookers, but for lying about being in a trap before and leading a Jigsaw support group. These sins and reasons for being punished are actually smart, and they’re sins that come from Jigsaw’s very existence as a killer. It could actually be seen as very clever and the concept itself is thought through, but sadly; that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a commentary on itself. Therefore, when something grows comfortable enough to comment on itself, it’s fair grounds to say it should just stop. The ending of this film is pretty decent too, seeing that we see that [SPOILERS*] Doctor Gordon has been helping all along since SAW II, and that he is the one who has been the one who has been doing the medical procedures on the victims, in exchange for living a life now deserved – at least according to Jigsaw..

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Suffice it to say, SAW VII is the type of film I would recommend for reasons of interest rather than quality. There’s actually a lot going on in this film: Cops chasing HoffmanBobby and the traps, Jill talking with the cops, and flashbacks galore. I like to believe that a lot of enthusiasm went into this idea when it was first pitched, but like in most of the other SAW movies, this final product has a fundamental disconnect between the one major idea: the death traps and the actual screen time that links those two [puzzle] pieces together. Far too often does SAW 3D resort to standard horror movie dialogue and convenient quick fixes to try and bridge gaps in the story. It constantly begs for a rewrite; yet, it never happens because everyone on the team were probably too impressed with the film’s simple premise: match everything up..somehow. After seven Halloweens and seven films, the SAW franchise is finally put to rest. [or is it?] Overall, it goes out applauding itself for it’s efforts, but something tells me Jigsaw wouldn’t have had it any other way.. Also, for those that have been wondering since SAW I, we also get to see the Reverse Bear Trap in action! [watch it happen here: NSFW]


And with that, we conclude SAW-TOBER: seven days, seven movies. As always, now I turn to You – the reader. What SAW film was your favorite? Are you looking forward to another SAW film? Let me know in a comment below, and if you enjoyed this review, and are looking for more, go and follow me over on my Facebook page! [we’re at over 150+ likes – let’s get to 200!] By clicking that “like” button, you’ll see every post from warrenisweird the very moment it’s been “gone live” online; and I also share links to articles and pictures/videos that will not be featured here on the blog. So go follow over there too!

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THANKS FOR READING.

SAW-TOBER PART 06: SAW VI [2009]

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This is it everyone, the beginning of the end. With the second last SAW film we have more traps, more choices, and more death. I mean, what else could you expect with this series? Thankfully, today’s sequel – SAW VI isn’t all that bad. It does dive a bit further/continues John Kramer‘s background story though, so expect more flashbacks. In this sixth installment, the series gets political, decidedly pointing a finger at the health care system. As the movie shows us, Insurance Companies aren’t always fair, especially to those that cannot afford it. So are you ready to play a game? Let’s look at the “beginning of the end” in SAW VI – which starts right after SAW V.

John/Jigsaw’s latest “game” focuses on a man named William, a guy who seems to be a big deal at an Insurance Company. He is also the man who personally declined John the coverage necessary to try and find a cure for his cancer. [bad move there, William!] Before you jump to conclusions, this is not a personal attack; because it turns out that John isn’t the only individual William denied the chance to live. The way William sees it is by following a “formula” that takes into account a person’s health, age, history and everything.. except their will to live. [coincidentally, isn’t that what John looks for?] Not finding himself in line with Jigsaw’s “way of things”, and William suddenly finds himself at the center of a series of traps requiring him to decide whether someone else will survive or die.What makes this sequel interesting is that logically, William can hide behind his desk when it comes to Insurance, but in the world of SAW, William is forced to suffer the consequences of his actions by watching the denied die.. Damn Jigsaw, that’s pretty extreme, even for you!

Now before you ask how this is all possible, seeing as John died three movies ago, keep in mind that John is still the man with the [big] plan, but he isn’t the one putting it into motion. That job went to Detective Hoffman. Carrying out John’s dying wishes is a big deal, but Hoffman also has to keep an eye on the FBI agents who are getting dangerously close to uncovering his secret. [He still “works” for them at this point]

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What makes SAW VI better than the last group of films is that also holds plenty of references to the previous films that will go completely over the unfamiliar watcher’s head, so if you fall under the “I haven’t watched many SAW films” category, your primary source of entertainment is what is going on with William, and holy damn can it get suspenseful.. Not only are the blood and guts flowing – as usual – but the traps that unleash the carnage will make you cringe. [just look at that breathing trap above!] The violence and brutality shown in the SAW movies is nothing new, but what makes the franchise stand out from the rest is the mind-boggling mental aspect. What would you do if you were in that situation? SAW is not about catching the audience off guard, it’s about knowing what is coming, which makes the circumstances of the “game” far more terrifying.

Now, it’s important to note that while I’m very familiar with the SAW movies – I’ve seen them all a multiple amount of times – in no sense do I consider myself a franchise expert. My knowledge of the smaller details are few and far between and my devotion to the series only comes with the fact that I tend to watch one [or more] SAW film during Halloween. I’m sure many would agree that none of the SAW movies compare to the genius of the first, so watching SAW has slowly become more of a leisure activity than a meaningful movie-going experience. However, with that being said, I do enjoy SAW VI very much. Without spoiling too much, fans will be glad to know that Tobin Bell is back as Jigsaw, as so is Shawnee Smith, as Amanda, who has a major secret to share. This is refreshing after Jigsaw being almost entirely absent in the fifth film.

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SAW VI is far from perfect and not nearly as good as the first film, but writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton put together a tight script, especially compared to their work on the fourth and fifth films. The story is wonderfully written into the overall story, the traps [like the carousal trap above] are unique again, [finally!] and Hoffman is still a badass – though I still dislike him. These elements will help pull in the fans led astray by the “not so good” films from before, and also bring in new recruits to join in on the bloody fun that is SAW. The flashbacks and other elements from the series are enough to impress the devoted fans but they also don’t detract from the general pace of the film. This is nice because it allows novices to the franchise to get a satisfying horror film as well. So basically, watch this if you enjoy the series as a whole, because if you don’t have a desire to see victims ripped limb-from-limb, cut in half and watch their insides spill out onto the floor, you should probably avoid SAW VI at all costs.. The other real complaint I have is that once again, you can expect a HUGE cliffhanger.

HOW WILL THIS FRANCHISE “END” ? JOIN ME TOMORROW WHEN WE COMPLETE SAW-TOBER WITH #07: SAW VII: THE FINAL CHAPTER!

Now I turn to You – the reader. Are you like me and enjoy SAW VI? What about Hoffman? Is he a worthy successor to John, or just a regular murderer? Let me know in a comment below, and if you enjoyed this review, and are looking for more, go and follow me over on my Facebook page! [we’re at over 150+ likes – let’s get to 200!] By clicking that “like” button, you’ll see every post from warrenisweird the very moment it’s been “gone live” online; and I also share links to articles and pictures/videos that will not be featured here on the blog. So go follow over there too!

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THANKS FOR READING.

SAW-TOBER PART 04: SAW IV [2007]

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FINALLY: seeing as I am reviewing each and every SAW film in the franchise, I have been waiting to review today’s sequel: SAW IV and before you ask why, I think you already know – it is probably my favorite in the series. [At least, it is pretty close to the top of the list] Lets start with the obvious, you can expect a few things from a SAW movie: there will be blood [and gore] – and a lot of it. One thing that I have always admired about this franchise is that it definitely does not hold back on that gore factor, which is kind of nice for us horror fans who seems to be living in an era where so many horror films aim for a PG-13 rating, to gather a larger crowd. But with SAW, you can always expect indulgent traps – which usually are planned out mechanisms that are timed perfectly to deliver the final killing blow to the [poor] victim at just the right time. There is almost always those hyper-edited sequences [that I have grown to dislike] during the suspenseful moments, leading into some sort of dizzying wrap up sequence that explains all the twists and turns of the movie by replaying the last hour and a half in just under two minutes. Yet, somehow, the SAW movies are a fun form of horror entertainment. OKAY, with that said, lets get on with the actual movie review!

SAW IV opens with some coroners performing an autopsy on Jigsaw himself [remember, he did end up dying at the end of the last film] To keep you from any lingering doubt of his death, the first gory scene of the movie isn’t during a trap! It actually comes from watching Jigsaw’s skull and chest cavity being opened up in a graphic yet fairly precise sequence. [what makes this scene even cooler is the use of black and whites on his body/the table he’s on/the background, but his blood is a dark red] Eventually this autopsy leads to the beginning of the movie’s plot: a mini-cassette tape is found inside the corpse that proves that, although the killer is dead, the games are not.

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This time around, the action follows [my favorite] Detective Rigg, who has survived through life as a supporting character in the previous two SAW films only to become the newest target of Jigsaw’s game himself. While Rigg is off dealing with a gambit of traps and games, two other FBI agents are on a separate course, attempting to figure out how Jigsaw could possibly be still operating; considering the fact that he currently is not alive and Amanda is also dead. The solution is simple: Jigsaw had more than one helper, which means the [other] remaining “helper” is still out there – on the loose!

Now, this installment will have standard SAW fans a little disappointed because although they are there, the traps and gore seem to take a bit of a back seat. Instead, we get storytelling and exposition. Believe it or not though, that’s what I liked about this sequel. Seriously. Instead of just laying on the traps, and a quick explanation that these traps mirror the moral shortcomings of those involved, SAW IV gives us a glimpse behind the method and madness of Jigsaw and explains how the killer was “created.” What made this so special [and important] was the fact that the story doesn’t take away the mystery of Jigsaw, but rather explains how a brilliant architect named John became the killer he is [was?], thus expanding on the mythology around Jigsaw, as a character.

These flashbacks do a brilliant job of explaining Jigsaw’s complicated past [thanks to the FBI agents who were interrogating his ex-wife Jill – she becomes important in later films!] and they intertwine nearly perfectly with Rigg’s story-line. Instead of being placed in different traps, [like Jigsaw’s usual set of victims] Rigg is shown and exposed to other victims in traps. Sometimes, he is even forced to put them in the traps after seeing the killer’s reasoning behind why he picked certain people. It’s an interesting way to give a look to the audience and the detective, although don’t get me wrong – that doesn’t make some of the traps any less disturbing. Some of the traps made me cringe, but that’s because I have this problem where I imagine myself in that situation..

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If I had to point out one thing that I wasn’t too fond of, it is the way the writers feel the need to point out that Rigg is being lured into learning from Jigsaw’s mentality. I get why they said it but in this particular case, that sort of thing should have been left unsaid; yet the FBI Agents mention it as part of their investigation at nearly every damned crime scene. Again, I understand it, it just gets frustrating. On a more positive note though:

then there is my favorite part – that ending! Remember Detective Matthews from SAW II? Well, as it turns out, he is still alive [granted, only barely] and being kept on an ice block which in itself is a trap – if it melts, Matthews dies – which we cannot have happening, right? well, this happens to our fabled Detective at the end of the film [spoilers, obviously] and thus ends the life of yet another cop. The ending also reveals who the “other Jigsaw helper” is: none other than Detective Hoffman, who stands proud and tall at the end of SAW IV, knowing he is the successor of John Kramer.

As far as SAW movies go, SAW IV is probably one of the better in the series, hence why I consider it one of my favorites. Although the plot-heavy story arc might turn those who look to the franchise just for the interesting slayings away, I have always been interested by the justification given by Jigsaw and what he offers for his killing[s]. I like to believe that it’s great to see his background expanded without giving away too much about the character to a point where there’s no surprises anymore. What I personally liked about SAW IV is that now the franchise is evolving and not just giving us – the viewer – the exact same formula/movie every year..

Now I turn to You – the reader. Did You like SAW IV? Or did the storytelling get too boring for you? What other opinions do you have on the series? Let me know in a comment below, and if you enjoyed this review, and are looking for more, go and follow me over on my Facebook page! [we’re at over 150+ likes – let’s get to 200!] By clicking that “like” button, you’ll see every post from warrenisweird the very moment it’s been “gone live” online; and I also share links to articles and pictures/videos that will not be featured here on the blog. So go follow over there too!

JOIN ME TOMORROW WHEN I SEE WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT IN THE SAW SERIES: WITH SAW-TOBER #05: SAW V.

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Every “like” helps me a ton, giving me the ability to write more posts for you to read, so be sure to tell the horror enthusiast in your life to do the same, and share The Facebook Page with your family and friends! I’ve also been writing way more reviews on my Letterboxd account, this is because I’m trying to review every single movie I watch  – with each review coming the very next day after viewing! Are you interested yet? Check me out over there and click that “follow” button! I’m just bound to follow you back because I like reading other people’s thoughts on film, as well as writing reviews myself!

THANKS FOR READING.

SAW-TOBER PART 03: SAW III [2006]

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Welcome back to SAW-TOBER – the series when I review each and every film in the SAW franchise, in order, and share my thoughts! Today’s edition? SAW III! Was it good? Well, it was certainly better than it’s predecessors, but it still wasn’t “great” by any means.. Remember how SAW II ended on a cliff hanger? [I didn’t mention that yesterday? whoops. It does. Moving on..] This sequel opens up where the second left off – and the first began – we see Detective Matthews chained up in the infamous bathroom with a handsaw and a choice. In a move that could be considered dumb and smart, Matthews cleverly “solves” his problem by breaking his own foot and thus the title screen flashes. The story leaves Matthews in favor of several horrible deaths that aren’t necessary to the plot, until at least 30 minutes into the film. In short, Jigsaw is now on his death bed and apprentice Amanda, remember her?, kidnaps a brain surgeon and forces her to keep Jigsaw alive to watch his latest game. The script then begins to have problems explaining the differences between Jigsaw’s struggle to survive, his latest victim’s progress through a new “game” and [of course] flashbacks; which are there as an attempt to fill in the plot holes of the last two movies.

Let’s stop right there for a minute. The SAW franchise has already become based on creative devices/traps of death and less about the originality of the first film. Because of this, SAW III loses sight of what made the first SAW good: the simplicity of chaining two people in a room with only a handsaw and the tension; created from wondering if they will, in fact, cut through their own legs for “a greater good.” Originally, Jigsaw’s lesson-driven murders were a nice side to the hyperviolence; but as the SAW series continues, the traps become more and more extreme. While they’re visually appealing to a horror fan, it’s the fact that it’s taking away the point of why John does what he does best.. Sorry, had to get that off my chest – let’s continue, shall we?

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SAW III follows Lynn‘s – the brain surgeon – “game” which consists of her trying to keep John alive through a harrowing brain surgery. If she doesn’t, the explosive collar that Amanda has locked around her neck – which is connected to his heart-rate monitor – will go off, causing her to [literally] lose her head. Meanwhile, we also have Jeff, the subject of Jigsaw‘s final test, who has to participate in a series of grotesque challenges in the dark reaches of the killer’s torture-chamber “facility.” But Why? What did Jeff do? Well, according to Jigsaw, it’s in order to give Jeff the opportunity to either get back at or forgive a series of individuals who were involved in his young son’s accidental death [he was hit by a car] years earlier. Because Jigsaw is dying, Amanda oversees Jeff‘s misfortunes on a TV screen.

What I did like about this sequel is that Jigsaw puts a lot of emphasis on forgiveness. Just like he did in the first two movies, he seems to claim that the reason he tortures people and makes them face death is to teach them how to “live again.” He insists that he wants them to forgive those who have wronged them [including himself] in order to regain their joy for living.What he seems to forget, is to mention that most – if not all – these “subjects” die trying. Thanks, Jigsaw. In one of the “challenges”, we see a judge who sacrifices his own life to try to save the life of a stranger. Before he dies though, we hear him instruct Jeff, “Vengeance never solves anything. It only makes the pain greater.” We also see – whether it’s because she desires to do so or she’s afraid for her own life – Lynn is willing to do everything possible to give the medical attention to Jigsaw that he so badly needs. These brief [but important] scenes hint to the fact that the two are wanting to forgive – even if it is difficult.

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In summation, SAW III continues the tradition of nearly every horror sequel in the genre: it attempts to further their [decent] storytelling by increasing the body count; and like any true horror sequel, it – once again – leaves an opening for another follow up featuring a villain who just won’t die.. even though he does die at the end of this film. As the television previews say loud and proud: “If it’s Halloween, it has to be Saw” and coming from a fan of the series as a whole – that doesn’t mean you should keep making them.

Now I turn to You – the reader. Are You a fan of the SAW III? Or should it have ended after the first movie? What other opinions do you have on the series? Let me know in a comment below, and if you enjoyed this review, and are looking for more, go and follow me over on my Facebook page! [we’re at over 150+ likes – let’s get to 200!] By clicking that “like” button, you’ll see every post from warrenisweird the very moment it’s been “gone live” online; and I also share links to articles and pictures/videos that will not be featured here on the blog. So go follow over there too!

JOIN ME TOMORROW WHEN I REVISIT AND REVIEW ANOTHER SEQUEL IN THIS FRANCHISE: SAW IV. I ACTUALLY ENJOYED SOME ASPECTS OF THIS ONE!

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Every “like” helps me a ton, giving me the ability to write more posts for you to read, so be sure to tell the horror enthusiast in your life to do the same, and share The Facebook Page with your family and friends! I’ve also been writing way more reviews on my Letterboxd account, this is because I’m trying to review every single movie I watch  – with each review coming the very next day after viewing! Are you interested yet? Check me out over there and click that “follow” button! I’m just bound to follow you back because I like reading other people’s thoughts on film, as well as writing reviews myself!

THANKS FOR READING.

SAW-TOBER PART 02: SAW II [2005]

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Welcome back for a the second entry in SAW-TOBER with my least favorite of the entire franchise: SAW II. Now, by “least favorite” I don’t mean it is a bad movie, but rather that I have seen it far too many times. Hell, when late night cable plays a SAW film around Halloween, it tends to be this one. Like most sequels, the writers/creators feel that they have to “up the ante” in order to feel/stay relevant, and does the gore step up in this one – at least, in contrast to the first film. We also get more victims this time around – eight instead of two – and the setting is in what appears to be an abandoned house.. Will this game be more fun than the first? Let’s find out, and dive head first into the needle pit that is SAW II.


Right off the top, you can expect Jigsaw, the serial killer who tormented Doctor Gordon [and Adam] to be back in full swing in SAW  II, armed with trickier traps and games for everyone. As Jigsaw himself even tells the audience, “Oh yes, there will be blood.” However, that “audience” isn’t just us – the movie goer – but is also made up of police detectives who have captured him and have him for questioning. That’s rightJigsaw, or – as we learn from this film [his real name]John is now in custody within the first ten to fifteen minutes of the movie’s opening. [wait, what?] Let’s get one thing straight, since the Jigsaw’s secret identity was revealed at the end of the first film, this sequel doesn’t attempt to play dumb with that, we get reminded that this older man is the one behind these “games.” [and thus becomes relevant for the remainder of the franchise] We also get this opportunity to put the killer front and center camera with some some spectacular scenes between Jigsaw and Detective Eric Mason that for some, could very well rival the conversations in Silence Of The Lambs between criminal and cop. Mason, it turns out, may very well be a new target of Jigsaw’s game – a game of life and death the detective gets to watch live on video monitors as Jigsaw’s victims, including the detective’s son Daniel, struggle for survival.

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Like I mentioned above, this time around, the setting is different than the first film. Instead of just two people in a bathroom, we now have half a dozen people in a house where they are breathing in a toxic gas that will kill them in two hours. The “players” are a wide spread variety of people, including the aforementioned Daniel and Amanda, a woman who has been “tested” by Jigsaw before. The game this time is simple: find antidotes to the toxin and work together to find a way out. It’s nothing special, and I’m sure other movies have done this before [I’m looking at you, Cube!] but it’s SAW so I’m not overly surprised at this plot.

In this house, each room contains a puzzle intended for a specific “player” of Jigsaw’s grand scheme, complete with a classic cassette tape that explains for whom and why each trap exists. The tape also explains that character’s particular “crime” [why Jigsaw felt that particular person needed to be tested] which I thought was a great way for the viewer to get more engrossed in the victims, telling us each character’s flaws without going into tons of exposition. However, there is one major problem I have with this movie: the convenience of there being no puzzle rooms for characters who end up being killed off before finding their room – meaning, Jigsaw is either the best fortune-teller ever, able to predict which characters will die, [and when] or it means the writers got sloppy and put a few characters in with their only purpose being to serve as “red shirts.” I think it would have been far more interesting for the brute of the group, Xavierthis guy for people bad with names – to have killed one member of the group, only to find that character’s trap and not know how to deal with it..

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Speaking of, I should probably also mention the traps that come along in the film. In SAW II, they’ve been created by Jigsaw, a mentally disturbed serial killer. When I first saw the movie, the very idea and concept for some of these traps are can be seen as sickening and more then one made me wince just at the thought of what was going to happen, and then it finally appeared on screen to make me cringe. Yeah, at first, I was not a fan. [can you say ‘needle pit?’] The traps as a whole though are smart and cunning, they’re willing to make you act first and think later [like the image above] only to be left to bleed and die. It really shows the kind of people these characters are, and for that – I’ll give them the benefit.

As with most horror movies these days, SAW II does have that one disappointing aspect, the same issue I had with the first SAW film: the fast-paced and flashing editing style that ensues when the action kicks in. Seriously. Every time Jigsaw’s puzzles even prepare to go off, we see quick – and increasingly faster – strobe light like shots of the trap before, during, and after it “goes off.” Some of these shots are so fast I’m surprised there isn’t a warning for epileptics, that flashing [and blinding] lights are used. It does create an extremely tense atmosphere though, which I cannot argue. I always felt this type fast paced cut shows their mind racing at the speed of the shot. I will say though, if you can make it through the first five minutes of the movie, which is a eye-wrenching trap that references the first film, then you’ll be fine. But, if you’re having a panic attack by then, chances are, you won’t make it through the rest of the movie. It only gets more intense as it goes on.

Also like the typical horror movie, at least the ones that have come out since the early 2000s, there is a necessary surprise twist. That’s not really spoiling much since the concept of a twist was such a big element for the first SAW, and besides; these movies are over ten years old. Thankfully, the ending of SAW II is well done. It makes complete and total sense and, more importantly, doesn’t feel plastered on just to get a rise out of the audience. It’s the kind of plot that was clearly determined early in the writing process, therefore making it an essential part of the movie. That ending scene with Xavier will always make me grind my teeth.

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With a stronger story, sicker and more disturbing traps, and better acting then the original, SAW II is one of those rare sequels that builds and even surpasses the foundation it was built on. Even though I consider this film to be my least favorite of the series, it’s still a solid addition to the SAW series, and while the movie does, yet again, leave things open for a potential sequel – or three – they got the SAW concept [and story] down by this sequel. There was really no need to delve further and possibly steer the franchise in the wrong direction..right? right?

JOIN ME TOMORROW WHEN I REVISIT AND REVIEW THE ENDING OF WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE ENDING OF THIS SERIES: SAW III.

Now I turn to You – the reader. What were Your thoughts on SAW II ? Was it a better film than the first? Or are you waiting for a certain sequel to be reviewed – and if so, which one? Let me know in a comment below, and if you enjoyed this review, and are looking for more, go and follow me over on my Facebook page! [we’re at over 150+ likes – let’s get to 200!] By clicking that “like” button, you’ll see every post from warrenisweird the very moment it’s been “gone live” online; and I also share links to articles and pictures/videos that will not be featured here on the blog. So go follow over there too!

Every “like” helps me a ton, giving me the ability to write more posts for you to read, so be sure to tell the horror enthusiast in your life to do the same, and share The Facebook Page with your family and friends! I’ve also been writing way more reviews on my Letterboxd account, this is because I’m trying to review every single movie I watch  – with each review coming the very next day after viewing! Are you interested yet? Check me out over there and click that “follow” button! I’m just bound to follow you back because I like reading other people’s thoughts on film, as well as writing reviews myself!

THANKS FOR READING.

SAW-TOBER PART 01: SAW [2004]

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Today, I am working on a new series I call “Saw-Tober“. It’s a simple premise, really, I will be reviewing each of the SAW films; one at a time. This is both in part because of my love for the films, but also because it’s October. I’ve always had a love for these films, even if they did get progressively bad with their “torture-porn” ways. So let us begin, with the infamous first film that started one of the most successful horror franchises of all time and play a game called: SAW.


SAW is not for everyone, but for those who have seen it, remembers the first time they watched it. I remember sitting in my house and watching this on our “big” – 32 inch – screen TV. I also remember being confused, and amazed by just how crazy the whole scenario was: I mean for someone my age back then, [about 14 years old] this was pretty extreme, even for someone who grew up watching “younger horror.” Of all the “real” horror films I had seen prior to this one, SAW was something different: it felt – at least to me – real.

And it was quite a revolution back in 2004. Back then, the only thing I can remember seeing is remakes of Asian horror films, like The Ring or The Grudge, but SAW was different: it was like a big breath of fresh air. Looking back with the knowledge I have about the horror genre now, I think this was a good thing – especially for the genre as a whole. Before SAW, horror was a dying genre, and without it, I don’t think the genre would have lasted as strongly as it has.

But does it hold up now? Let’s find out.

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We start off with two guys waking up in a dingy, dirty old bathroom [see above] because all good horror stories start off as a drunken trip through the backwoods of Europe. [I’m looking at you, Hostel..] Our story follows Doctor Lawrence Gordon and Adam who are chained by the ankle to pipes at opposite ends of the room and have no apparent memory of how they got there or of who the other is. Naturally, the two look around. Between them lies a man in a pool of blood; with a gun in one hand and a tape recorder in the other. As the two men begin to question the scenario they have to face, Gordon, quickly realizes that they may be the next victims of a notorious serial killer known only as Jigsaw.

For those out of the know, The Jigsaw killer never directly kills his victims. He instead places them in elaborate [and] gruesome traps that he claims gives each victim a valuable life lesson – if you can survive, you’ll appreciate your life just a little bit more than you did before. However, chances of survival are usually small, with only one victim having survived so far. Gordon talks about how he knows of Jigsaw: it turns out this is because he was once a prime suspect in the case. Thankfully, he was released after his alibi for one of the murders checked out.

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What makes SAW so great is that there is no melodramatic lead-in: it quite literally throws you straight into the middle of the story and doesn’t let go until the final frame. Most of the movie plays out in the bathroom “cell” with all the other exciting parts, other than the final act, being told through flashbacks of various characters. This can and sometimes does make SAW seem stage-like, especially in the extended edition’s opening scene, but for an unusual approach; it works well as the movie never once drags.

Surprisingly, Director James Wan handles everything really well in this debut picture. He doesn’t give anything away too soon, leaving the viewer just confused enough to stay interested without letting them know everything, even if they might think they do. And just when it looks like SAW is going down a road of clichés, it pulls a fast one and leaves you surprised! If there’s anything can be criticized, it’s Wan’s use of hyper fast-cut scenes set to hard rock music to add a sense of urgency to what is going on. These are effective, particularly during the trap sequences; but over the course of seven SAW films it became tiresome and almost overused.

In all seriousness though, SAW is is not for everyone. It can [and later does] be gruesome and extreme, but that makes up a very small part of what can otherwise be considered an interesting psychological thriller. It’s not perfect; but for what it is – and what the franchise became – it is an important piece of horror cinema that has the heart of many.

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Now I turn to You – the reader. Are You a fan of the SAW franchise? Or are they “more gore, less story” in your opinion? Let me know in a comment below, and if you enjoyed this review, and are looking for more, go and follow me over on my Facebook page! [we’re at over 150+ likes – let’s get to 200!] By clicking that “like” button, you’ll see every post from warrenisweird the very moment it’s been “gone live” online; and I also share links to articles and pictures/videos that will not be featured here on the blog. So go follow over there too!

JOIN ME TOMORROW WHEN I REVIEW MY LEAST FAVORITE OF THE SERIES: SAW II.

Every “like” helps me a ton, giving me the ability to write more posts for you to read, so be sure to tell the horror enthusiast in your life to do the same, and share The Facebook Page with your family and friends! I’ve also been writing way more reviews on my Letterboxd account, this is because I’m trying to review every single movie I watch  – with each review coming the very next day after viewing! Are you interested yet? Check me out over there and click that “follow” button! I’m just bound to follow you back because I like reading other people’s thoughts on film, as well as writing reviews myself!

THANKS FOR READING.

 

RANT: a ‘certain’ horror franchise is becoming a VR video game..

warrenisweird-rantChances are, you’re probably never heard of the company that calls itself “VRwerx” – and that’s okay – because until the other day; neither had I. According to their LinkedIn page, VRwerx is a “premiere innovative” Virtual Reality game developer, and distribution company who primarily focus their time on delivering high quality Virtual Reality entertainment to a global audience. This basically means that this company works to make Virtual Reality video games and sell them to the largest group they possibly can, which – speaking as a gamer – I think is really cool! naturally, it’d come as no surprise that their games specialize in working hand in hand with tools like The Oculus Rift and other Virtual Reality machines. One thing I think that would work really well with this type of gaming is horror: think about it. You could essentially be in that world; not just being scared of what you see on screen [as if you’re watching a movie], but actually feeling like you’re in that specific horror scene. Imagine wearing The Oculus Rift, and finding yourself strapped into a Reverse Bear Trap from the SAW franchise? That’d be fucking terrifying! But why am I talking about Virtual Reality video gaming on a horror blog that generally talks horror movies? Let’s rewind for a second..

Not even five seconds ago I mentioned that I’d love to see horror come to Virtual Reality, I think it’d be super effective if done correctly, and that it could really boost a franchise hit the “next level”. [even for me – that was a bad pun..] It’s looking like I spoke too soon though, because one such horror franchise revealed a day or two ago that we’re getting a VR version of it.. and that franchise is none other than.. Paranormal Activity.

I know Keanu, I’m not happy about it either..

I know, I know; like Keanu Reeves, I’m a little skeptical about the thoughts around this. I’m not a big fan of Paranormal Activity as it is, and I’m beyond tired of supernatural movies..let alone shaky cameras. But, as it turns out, a Paranormal Activity VR video game is planned to be released for all major head-mounted displays including: The HTC Vive, Sony’s Project Morpheus, The Oculus Rift; PC; mobile; and even home video game consoles – such as The Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Although there’s no concept details of the game yet, Russell Naftal, The Co-Managing Partner of VRwerx says “Paranormal Activity is the perfect property for VRwerx. This franchise represents a huge audience that loves visceral and unbridled terror, which we intend to intensify through the incredible immersion that only virtual reality can enable. Our goal is for our Paranormal Activity VR video game to not only be the scariest game you’ve ever played, but the scariest experience you’ve ever had!”

That’s quite the claim, but if done correctly – it could be just as terrifying as they seem to say it will be. Earlier this year, another Virtual Reality game was demo-ed called Catatonic: A VR Experience. To add to the scary atmosphere, players were actually strapped to a wheelchair while wearing a Virtual Reality head-mount; which had them “wheeling” through the halls of an abandoned asylum! If VRwerx is right about one thing; it’s that with Virtual Reality, it’s all about the atmosphere and in depth immersion, which can open up the mind to more frightening scenarios.. where you actually experience what you’re playing.

contrary to belief: this is not a screenshot from the upcoming game.

I guess I’m just worried that it won’t live up to the expectations, and the strong claims of VRwerx. I’m already not a huge fan of Paranormal Activity, which sparked this “rant”; but making it into a Virtual Reality video game just concerns me more-so. As I said though, if it’s done right – this is going to be great; even surpassing the movies with their scare tactics. [which, in my opinion, isn’t that difficult] While we’re on the topic of everyone’s favorite ghost stories; if you weren’t already aware, there is a sixth Paranormal Activity film in production, [groan] subtitled “The Ghost Dimension, and it’s currently set for an October 23rd release. Chances are, I’m not going to be seeing it, only because I’m just tired of shaky cameras, ghosts and loud/annoying jump scares.

So the real question is: how do you feel about a Paranormal Activity video game? Even with Virtual Reality, is it going to be the next big thing or is it time to put the PA ghost[s] to rest for good? Also, if you could choose one horror film to make into a Virtual Reality video game, what game would that be and why? Let me know in a comment or two! If you found yourself to enjoy this piece of writing, please take a minute and follow me over on Facebook where you can click the “like” button on my Facebook page. By clicking “like”, you’ll see every post from warrenisweird the very moment it’s been posted. I also share links and pictures that will not be featured here on the blog. Every “like” helps a ton, so be sure to tell the horror enthusiast in your life to do the same, and share the page with family and friends!

THANKS FOR READING.