Monday Morning Critic – Reflections Upon The 10th Anniversary Of Saw And The Nature of Horror Movies in the Past Decade


You know what feels wild this week? Saw is being released back into theatres for a brief run to celebrate the film’s 10th anniversary, coming on rumors abound that Saw 8 is on the horizon. After what felt like a justifiable end to the series with Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, something that felt appropriate due to the diminishing returns of the franchise, another crack at the torture porn king isn’t all that shocking. With all the franchises being dusted off, rebooted and considered over the past two years it’s not all that shocking that Saw would get another chance.

It’s just that Saw had its time in the sun … and the genre has moved on from the NC-17 borderline violence of the past. Saw had its relevance end about 30 seconds after Paranormal Activity debuted in theatres. Paranormal Activity wasn’t exactly new or revolutionary, of course. It combined a fairly revolutionary marketing campaign with the Blair Witch style found footage concept to change the landscape overnight. It was potentially cheaper to take the same tired concepts and shoot it like a documentary then do it all proper.


Saw felt real and new when it first came out, still a film I can watch (and I say that as someone who dislikes horror on the whole), because it wasn’t the tired old clichés of slasher films, zombie films, et al. It was a premium on violence, nothing more, but it was so over the top that it felt new. And Hollywood came out en masse with copycats, and Saw sequels became a Halloween ritual for a short while, but the only for the genre to continue to be relevant was to turn up the volume. And people will only put up with so much after a while, which is why the genre faded at the exact same time as found footage wound up taking its place at the top of the food chain.

The ascent of Paranormal Activity (and budget of less than $100,000) caused a shift away from torture porn and to found footage. The latest film is stuck in post production hell, having been pushed back twice with a March 2015 release date currently, but the rush to have a found footage horror film in theatres has disappeared for the most part. That trend died quicker than torture porn, as people caught on to the fact that the same genre tropes were being used but with a documentary setup instead. There was anything new to zombies or ghosts, et al, but for a short while it felt new.

It was the new hotness and torture porn was old & busted, to quote Will Smith in Men in Black, but Saw was going downhill irrevocably by the time Activity came out. The found footage film just wound up being the final nail in the coffin of torture porn, from a historical basis, but there was also a financial basis to it. The Saw franchise had gone from being a type of film you could make for an insanely low number, as the first cost $1.2 million to make, to being on the high end of the horror genre at the end as Saw 3D wound up with a budget of $20 million. It still wound up in the black, making over $130 million worldwide, but it felt right to finish it all up right then and there.


Ten years later, after Saw came and seemingly went, the landscape of film on the whole has changed very radically. The preponderance of 3D releases was in the future and the biggest film of the year was Shrek 2. Lindsay Lohan was a star on the rise, Friday Night Lights was a novel turned film, and Catwoman nearly sank Halle Berry’s career as a headlining actress.

It’s wild to think that a film that was such a game changer at the time, taking the Miike style of horror from Audtion and giving it an American slant, is now relegated to the annals of time as a franchise that has come and gone. Torture porn is more or less over as a box office attraction, of course, but found footage wound up falling out of favor nearly as quickly as it arrived.

The supernatural is now the flavor of the month and graphically violent horror films wind up on the indie scene or direct to video, or both, more often than not. It’s crazy to think where the world of cinema has gone in the ten years since Saw debuted.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

The week in box office from Travis right here.

Travis and I tackled John Wickhere and here.

I saw indie darling Dear White People, which you can check out here.

Joe Corey tackles Hercules related stuffs.

And now on MMC …. It’s time to celebrate the greatest holiday of the year: HALLOWEEN!

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

Before I Go To Sleep – Nicole Kidman stars in a Memento rip off, based on a novel of the same name.

Skip it – So far this doesn’t look anything remarkable … and feels exactly the same as Memento.

Nightcrawler – Jake Gyllenhaal becomes a crime reporter or something.

See it – So far I have absolutely no clue what this film is about …the trailers are no help. But it’s been getting good reviews, so it’s tentative but I’ll wind up seeing it.

Saw (10th Anniversary) – A bunch of strangers get locked in a room. Bad things happen.

See it – It’s on DVD and Netflix, I think, so paying to see it in theatres is strictly for the nostalgia of seeing the violence one more time on the big screen.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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