By Chris Campo
The Saw movies hold a unique legacy. It kickstarted several careers, including director James Wan, and started many genre mainstays/cliches. If I am being completely honest, these films have always been a twisted guilty pleasure of mine. I love bloody, horrific movies, so when I was younger, these were the go-to. However, I have not seen them in quite sometime, and I thought, to celebrate the release of the upcoming sequel Jigsaw, which I have already seen (JACK NOTE: Hits Australian cinemas next week. Review up on Halloween), I would go back with more mature/critical eyes and watch/review the entire series. All seven films will be reviewed on this one page, because to be completely honest, they're so similar to one another, I could never pull off multiple paragraphs for each film.
If you have never seen any Saw movie, I can almost guarantee that you have the wrong idea about the series' first outing. The first Saw is outstanding. It's a modern horror classic and a great reminder that even with limited resources, passion and perseverance by the people behind the camera will still lead to something special. You've probably seen the iconic image of the two men in the bathroom, with a dead body sitting between them. It's a brilliant concept, and the big evil plan by Jigsaw is rather smart here, before the sequels over-explain everything. James Wan doesn't over-do the gore. If you go back and watch Saw, it's rather tame, with a lot of the bloodshed being left to our imagination. It's a tight, well made and often frightening little concept executed damn well (albeit some hammy performances). Even if you aren't into insane gore, watch this film, you might like it. How could you not be genuinely shocked by that ending the first time you see it?
To most people, or most sane people, the original Saw is their favourite of the seven (or eight, now). While I recognise the that the original is superior, I think the second film is my favourite It is the launch into the Saw most poople know. With the twisty, turny, blood-soaked spiral down an increasingly complicated screenplay, Saw 2 is the last film in the franchise before the far-reaching plot bends too far left into the lore. I like the gimmick here, of never quite knowing certain puzzle pieces (pun intended) until the filmmakers want you, and for that matter, the characters to know them. The situation the Jigsaw victims are in is actually engaging, Tobin Bell as the titular killer is outstanding, and the twist is ridiculous, but damn is it cool. It's not as scary and the directing and script aren't as inspired, but Saw 2 is a worthy sequel.
3 1/2 Stars
Saw 3 is interesting while it lasts, but other than a few cool traps, there's not much to remember. Despite having some of the grossest, grizzliest and most cringe-inducing gore of all the films, this is where they get too ahead of themselves, trying way to hard to jumble your brain until it can blow your mind with the twists it's hiding up your sleeves. However, the only interesting twist in this film is the trap where a man has all of his limbs, including his head, twisted off. The narrative twists aren't as shocking as they were in the previous films. The way the film connects the two main story lines present throughout is mildly satisfying, but doesn't have any long lasting impact in the long run of the series. While this isn't the point where the films become incomprehensible, this is where the epic story the filmmakers are trying to tell starts to get a little dry. This is when you start watching just for the gore, and if that's all you are looking for, you'll be satisfied.
While the lead protagonist that navigates Jigsaw's traps in Saw 4 is likable, and while the gore delivers, I think Saw 4 is where the gimmick of telling you the story out of order gets old. Sure, the writers do a good job of incorporating Jigsaw into the story (Spoiler Alert: he's dead at this point), but by god, they are just trying to confuse you. It's so hard to follow. It was complicated before, now it's just irritating. I will admit, though, this film has a pretty cool twist... Not as cool as the first two films, but it's amusing. And this is exactly why I didn't write a full review for each film, as I have literally nothing more to say...
2 1/2 Stars
This movie fucking sucks and the antagonist and protagonist look identical and this movie is miserable. Just watch a kill compilation on YouTube. This film is such a slog, it's so hard to sit through. I don't even want to talk about Saw 5 for much longer. I watched it just a few days ago and all I remember are some of the traps, or are the traps I'm remembering from Saw 6? 4? Who knows? And my god, the water tank trap is not only a stupid idea, but the way the victim escapes it is so absurd. It's hilarious.
1 1/2 Stars
Well, I'll be dammed. Saw 6 is half enjoyable. It's tied for third best in the Saw series. The plot is still nonsense, but there's genuine bits of fun here and there. It's nothing like the more tightly wrapped first film, but if you are in it for the long run, this is the only high point in the final three films. The traps here are more inspired and probably what you think of when you think of Saw, especially if you haven't actually seen the films. They're sickening, but inventive, like the absurd Carousal trap. And yes, the twists sort of work. All in all, this is a fun entry and a Saw film I'll be happy to randomly revisit, even when I'm not marathoning the series.
FUUUUCK this movie. It's cheap. The effects are cheap, the story is cheap, the murders are cheap. My word. I won't give you guys my opinion on the latest film, Jigsaw, I'll let Jack handle that, but I will say I am glad this is not the film the franchise ends on. The blood in the film is literally neon pink. I don't know how or why, but it's pink. Nothing is satisfying in this movie. The big final twist that caps off the series known for cool twists is predictable and absurd and did I mention THE BLOOD IS NEON PINK?! I hate this film, I hate sitting though it, I hate thinking about it. It sucks. Not even the traps are cool. We get to finally see the iconic reverse bear trap go off on a human, but it's not cool looking, probably because the blood is bright pink.
1 Neon Pink Star
Overall, the Saw franchise is special. It's an iconic franchise for a reason. It's built off a cool idea and it stays consistent (kinda...). While I will probably never watch the series low-points like 5 or 7 again, these are fun films for horror enthusiasts who don't mind sickening violence. Also, Billy, the little clown puppet, is one of the only proper horror icons we have gotten in the past few years... What's up with that?
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