I’m back ladies and gentlemen to deliver yet another edition of “Making Movie History” to you all. I loved doing my first column before Dark Knight came out that looked at the evolution of famed villain, the Joker. Now I’m back again to discuss now a single character, but a franchise that has quickly risen to the ranks of cult status and beyond. Each one doesn’t necessarily get better or worse then its predecessor, but they all stay consistently good. And when it comes to Halloween and horror franchises, there are only two that need mentioning…one includes Michael Myers and the other, a man named Jigsaw.
Five years. For five years now we horror fans have been waiting Halloween to come for more then just the cool costumes, candy, and haunted houses. We’ve all gained a new friend in theatres come October that doesn’t wear a mask that looks like William Shatner. He’s looking out for our well-being and making sure that we don’t take the lives we’re given and toss them away or waste them. His name is Jigsaw and he promises us all that is right. He promises us life. And he’s given us Saw.
It’s always hit or miss when new horror films come out because they’re going to fall into one of four categories. The first one is that it will be a one hit wonder and spit out a sequel that fails to bring in a third of the audience for the first film. The second category is that one that has become very popular in the past five or six years, and that’s being a remake of a past film in which we’ll see one and done. Next up is the third category which would see the film be a total bust and suck beyond all belief. Our last and final category is a rare one that sees the horror film be a total success and spawn multiple successful sequels. Saw happens to fall into the final category and it just keeps on going.
Spoilers Galore People! If you haven’t seen any of the films by now and don’t want it ruined for you, then be gone!
Back in 2004, Leigh Whannell and James Wan brought a new horror film to us. It was done on a rather low budget and took place almost entirely in a grimy old bathroom. Two men were chained to the wall by their ankles while another lay dead on the floor between them; seemingly having shot himself in the head. As time goes on, they get to know one another a little bit and find out that they both have options of getting free and leaving alive as long as they abide by the wishes of a voice coming out of a small tape recorder. Play the game and live. Try to cheat or refuse to play, and you could cost yourself your own life.
Saw was a breath of fresh air four years ago when the horror genre was in a complete and total stalemate. Remakes were being done left and right because directors/writers had run out of ideas. Huge budget franchises were floundering because they had just grown old and dull. Here came a film that not only disturbed you, made you sick, and totally grossed you out; it made you think and taught us all a lesson. The brilliance of the film comes in the fact that it doesn’t need to have a huge budget or be extremely complex to entertain. All it needs to do is spill out exactly what it’s doing to you every step of the way and then at the end, reveal to you all the small details you missed along the way. Genius.
Coming off the success of the first film; it was only appropriate, and expected, that a sequel was on the way. An interesting twist came about to start the film as Jigsaw decided to teach lessons to a group of people instead of just a couple. A handful of so-called “life wasters” were put together in a house and needed to play the game in order to survive. The thing is that they didn’t realize playing the game to save their lives consisted of working with one another to get out and move on. Greed, stupidity, anger, and the inability to just sit back and listen to one another is what eventually did most of the houseguests in. Meanwhile, Jigsaw was playing another game with one of his favorite detectives.
Saw II was either going to make this franchise a total bust or have it continue down the awesome path that the first film paved. While it didn’t live up to its predecessor; it still did a good enough job to merit the continuation of a great series. The things that made this film so interesting is seeing how people worked together and against one another on a larger scale in both the amount of people and the size of the area they had to move around in. I wasn’t too fond of seeing Jigsaw interrogated and having the shit beaten out of him, but perhaps it was necessary for the situation at hand.
Still, I’d have to say this is my least favorite of the series so far.
With the release of the third film, we saw a little of what worked from both of the first two films and watched it all come together here. Jigsaw is on his deathbed and now has the help of his companion and student, Amanda. She has been chosen to continue his work since he cannot move from a bed and since she’s been the only one, so far, that got the true point he was trying to prove to his victims. Amanda wishes to keep her mentor alive though so a doctor has been kidnapped to keep his heart beating as well as her own. Meanwhile, a man named Jeff (who has forgotten he has another child besides the one he lost) is going through hell just to decide whether revenge or forgiveness is the best policy.
Things got rolling again here as the true feeling of the first film came back into play. More people were used, but not nearly as we saw in the second film. Still, it was cool having multiple games going on at one time. That allowed us to sympathize with both of them at the same time while all the time wondering who would make it out alive. Jigsaw would meet his demise in this film and oddly enough, if it wouldn’t be Amanda who would end up carrying out his work…who then?
Well slap my ass and call me Charlie; this one just blew my damn mind. Jigsaw’s life may have ended, but his games were far from over. Sergeant Rigg is the last remaining police officer as Kerry has died and Eric Matthews is still missing and presumed dead. Agent Hoffman is also stuck in the middle as he has been kidnapped by Jigsaw and needs to rely on others for his life to be spared. It seems like a simple plot because Rigg’s sin is that he always tries to save everyone while never really saving his own life issues. Yet so many lives are at stake and relying on the hands of just one man. But…how is Jigsaw doing everything from his deathbed and with his assistant dead as well?
Simple! He got to someone else and it is truly brilliant. If I wasn’t such a damn sucker for the first films of franchises; I’d put this one up there at the very top so far. Saw IV took multiple viewings to truly get everything that went down and how it all happened, but once it was all figured out in my little mind…it blew me away. For those of you that have seen all the films and haven’t yet grasped the concept: the third and fourth films happen at the exact same time. I know it isn’t necessarily a new idea, but it was down to complete perfection and it also answered so many questions.
Why did Amanda die? How did Jigsaw do all this when his throat was slashed open and he was lying on a morgue table? Who was helping him now and why? So many other things got answers too and the door was opened for brand new questions as well that had yet to be answered.
Now comes the fifth chapter of the franchise that has given us blood, guts, gore, horror, jump scares, and made us all look at our lives a little differently. Rumor has it that there will be six films total in the series and then all will be said and done, but that remains to be seen until after next year. I say “next year” because those involved with all things Saw have done a fantastic job of having a new film come out every year since the first one and making it a Halloween tradition. Seeing it come to an end after part six in 2009 will sadden me greatly because there aren’t many franchises that are able to keep things entertaining as the numbers go higher…especially in the horror genre. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry, and I won’t for at least one more year.
Anyways, Saw V comes out tomorrow and I for one can’t wait to see it. Keep an eye out for my review of the film sometime this weekend because Lord knows I’ll be in theatres like I have been the past four years so far. What gets my mind going crazy is that the main character of the franchise, Jigsaw, died two films ago and we have yet another new film and one more next year. That’s just insane. And the tag line for this one is, “You won’t believe how it ends!”
Well, you know what? I couldn’t believe how any of the other four ended either. Each one surprised me and did the cool and quick flashback that made me catch things I had either missed or not realized were important. Yet when they say I won’t believe how it ends; I trust that they’re right. I’m hoping to walk out of the theatre this weekend with my jaw dropped and questioning all that which was just shown before me. My trust is in the hands of those affiliated with Saw, and I trust them to keep my favorite holiday season of the year an enjoyable one.
Remember…if it’s Halloween, it must be Saw!
Tags: halloween, Lionsgate, Making Movie History, saw