Saw traps

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.

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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.