Horror Marathon: Saw VI (2009) #horror #Saw #SawVI #Franchise

Moving along with quite well with the Saw franchise and we are at the 6th movie. Its becoming wildly apparent that this is one long story that can’t be really reviewed by part however, we will try.

Lets go!

Saw VI (2009)

Saw VI

Director: Kevin Greutert

Cast: Costas Mandylor, Tobin Bell, Mark Rolston, Betsy Russell, Peter Outerbridge, Shawnee Smith, Athena Karkanis

Agent Strahm is dead, and FBI agent Erickson draws nearer to Hoffman. Meanwhile, a pair of insurance executives find themselves in another game set by Jigsaw.-IMDB

NOOO!!! Scott Patterson’s Agent Strahm is dead. He was my highlight in the last two movies. At least he died pretty epicly, sort of.

I never thought that I would say this at this point in the franchise but the sixth movie breathed some life back into the franchise. However, since the last two movies, I haven’t been able to watch any of the first victims/games because its just incredibly disgusting. Gore and torture porn doesn’t normal bother me a lot but its probably the watching back to back of them that has caused a decrease tolerance. So, I was pretty nauseous in that first part because the sound effects made me also imagine what was going on and I have one outrageous imagination. And actually because of that beginning, I went into this sixth one quite bitter and angry for this opening direction. Lets just say I’m fed up of the gore which doesn’t make sense because this is what I had originally thought Saw franchise was all about.

Saw VI

To be fair, Saw VI is quite good. In terms of the direction of the story, it starts lining up with Jigsaw’s last game in his will and reveals the answer as to other person or people involved. The question at this point (and before) is always how do these people caught in the game relate to Jigsaw? How did they meet and what bad things have these people done? Jigsaw’s captives are rarely people who have done nothing and here is where this film excels. The story itself highlights Jigsaw’s mentality in spades about the morality and ethics. The backstory of everyone’s involvement is what links all the movies together but this story really brings out the why for Jigsaw’s action especially when his mantra is cherish your life and yet the guy caught in the game is stuck in making decisions to essentially use his formula on the people he knows and make him question his choices. What I did like the best was actually the way Saw VI manages to keep its tension and momentum and really keep us guessing to the end which was quite a twist. Good job on the switch in director to Kevin Greutert who seems take the gore a little too seriously still manages to balance it well enough in the psychological department to make it work.

Saw VI

While I do praise this instalment and had a good bit of enjoyment from it, which is surprising considering I was angry at it when the movie started, there are still flaws. It mostly goes down to our character making predictable choices. However, it might just fall into how well we know Jigsaw’s puzzle concepts particularly under time crunch blended with the guy in the game who does a decent performance. Or maybe, its just my expectations are so low that it didn’t matter anymore so there was more enjoyment because of that.

Overall, Saw VI does a decent job here. It makes the The Final Chapter (which we know is a lie since theres a new movie out in a week or so) a little more promising. How will they end it?

Did you watch Saw VI? 

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Horror Marathon: Saw V (2008)

Moving back into the Saw franchise, we go to the fifth installment! So far, its getting disappointing but some have told me it’ll get better. So fingers crossed, I guess…

Let’s check it out!

Saw V (2008)

Saw V

Director: David Hackl

Cast: Scott Patterson, Costas Mandylor, Tobin Bell, Betsy Russell, Julie Benz, Meagan Good, Mark Erickson, Greg Bryk

Following Jigsaw’s grisly demise, Mark Hoffman is commended as a hero, but Agent Strahm is suspicious, and delves into Hoffman’s past. Meanwhile, another group of people are put through a series of gruesome tests. – IMDB

Saw V deepens the story a little more as we take a look at how Hoffman got chosen by Jigsaw as his apprentice and to pick up the job after his passing. It ties in some parts of the past movies and actually does kind of make sense. Saw V has its gory moments particularly one of the first deaths at the beginning which is literally gut wrenchingly disgusting. Its really not my cup of tea. It didn’t make me feel scared or anything, just made me turn away so I wouldn’t get all nausea and shut the movie off. However, once we get past that part, the story driven elements runs a little deeper here, its interesting to kind of get a better idea of the timeline of the story while still having that element of the Jigsaw game. Its also cool that its quite obvious that the Jigsaw voice has changed to Hoffman’s (maybe slightly) distorted voice. Point is, I like the general direction of this one a little more than the previous two, at least. The only issue is that the movie does jump from scene to scene from Jigsaw and Hoffman to the elaborated captives trying to escape and then to Agent Strahm who is tracing back the steps. At times, this makes it feel slightly fragmented/disjointed.

Saw 5

I guess the approach here is to look at the three stories they are telling. Hoffman and Jigsaw are interesting characters. Hoffman is kind of a messed up cop because of a tragedy and he is vengeful as well and in some ways, Jigsaw was about to see through it in a see of people and know it was him and handpicked him to have an opportunity to learn his talent of anticipating human nature so that while it seems like his victims have a choice, they actually have to break out of their instinctive nature to make it out. And its pretty clever in that way, especially when we see Hoffman finally embracing that at the end of this one. Is that considered a spoiler? Maybe…I’m sorry.

Saw V

This brings us to the captives caught in the game which may have a deeper purpose in the story which I haven’t quite figured out yet or the story hasn’t gone there but it did help emphasize on the fact that these were people connected because of an incident which they eventually figure out however, they also become victims of their own nature of self-preservation and not being able to break out of that mentality causing them to have deadly endings. In a way, its also pretty clever, especially the games in each room they have to encounter because by the end, you see that the game was set up so that everyone could survive as long as they were able to think out of the box, which obviously they didn’t. The games itself weren’t particularly gory instead it was on the effect and surprise of what had to be achieved. There’s a little more of a psychological aspect here even if at times, who was going to die or make it became slightly predictable.

Saw V

The reason and motivation of my desire to continue after the third was all on Scott Patterson and my love for his character in Luke. Sigh~ I have to say that he takes on Agent Strahm and is the highlight of the last two. His character is cool because he’s smart and he traces through all these things and then realizes that he’s caught up in something that is way ahead of his expectations. However, his part as he traces to Jigsaw’s building and then goes underground and goes back to these traps (that somehow are still there) and looks back at previous movies of why they are there. My main issue with this is that he finds these trap doors or something in the walls and yet the police and forensic  or whatever investigative team didn’t find it the first time around. Doesn’t that feel like a trap? It just lacks a little bit of sense.

While it seems like I’m really not enjoying Saw V, there are some redeemable parts of it as long as you don’t try to make it too sensible. I have issues with how the story flows and even the timeline of it. But I have a feeling that when Hoffman’s lifespan as the Jigsaw apprentice wraps up, depending how long that is, we will start to get a full picture and everything should piece together. At least I sure hope so. As for expectations for Saw VI? I have none. Its the best way to get into these movies at this point. I just need it to somehow piece together without the feeling that the best parts are always in their finale because this formula is getting old really fast.

Have you seen Saw V?

Horror Marathon: Saw IV (2007)

And we continue…

If you look at my Letterboxd diary, you will see that it continued with quite a gap before I decided to jump back into the franchise. For obvious reasons if you’ve read the review for 2 and 3. However, I committed to this so why not? It can’t really get worse than how odd the story got for previous franchises I’ve covered. After Saw III though, where could it go? Thats the main question I have.

Lets check it out!

Saw IV (2007)

saw IV

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Cast: Tobin Bell, Scott Patterson, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Lyriq Bent, Athena Karkanis

Despite Jigsaw’s death, and in order to save the lives of two of his colleagues, Lieutenant Rigg is forced to take part in a new game, which promises to test him to the limit. – IMDB

Saw III ended with the death of our villain here. In fact, the entire ending is the type of dumb BS ending that I can’t stand so you can see how I wasn’t eager to jump back into the franchise.

Its getting increasingly hard to hash out these reviews. Saw feels like with each entry that they are very similar in concept. I do get that its the mentality of Jigsaw. In the fourth one, it seems like he isn’t only trying to find someone to pick up his task and his big elaborate plans but we see a much deeper look into how Jigsaw became who he was as the FBI sent it, Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) and Agent Perez (Athena Karkanis) follow the clues to try to track down Agent Riggs who has been sent on his own mission to save Eric Matthews who turns out to be alive. This angle is a good one to be fair. Jigsaw was a mystery and its nice to see John Kramer, the human version before he became this crazy killer. The way this one ends, its pretty certain that there will be a follow-up as we already know there is, unlike how the third ended and you wondered whether it was just a trilogy and meant to end there.

Saw 4

Saw IV dropped down a little the disgusting scenes. It still had some pretty cruel traps however, this was a test for Lieutenant Riggs (played by Lyriq Bent) who we’ve seen in the last two movies and it was his test. At the same time, it makes us wonder who is now behind this mess since Jigsaw is pretty much dead or else you know, the events of the ending of the last one wouldn’t have happened. Regardless, the test did make sense for Riggs and particularly for his parts, and the whole finding Matthews and that really does come together. Even who has now picked up the reigns after Jigsaw is pretty obvious if you look at the clues that the movie puts out in front of you. Its pretty in your face although it does have those scenes that mesh itself together so it can also be waved as just a scene shift continuity thing (or whatever you call it). Plus, the ending of that trap was pretty awesome in the sense that I never expected that is how it would turn out in terms of Riggs and his test and saving Matthews.

The new players of the franchise, since the last Saw had a few exit, is Agent Strahm and Agent Perez (as I mentioned above). After Gilmore Girls, it seems Scott Patterson went ahead and joined into the Saw franchise for a little bit. This is his entry point. I love Scott Patterson because of his character Luke in Gilmore Girls however, in some hints when Agent Strahm gets angry and frustrated, its really still Luke just in a different context. And that is what makes it pretty awesome for me because the best parts of the movie was when he was talking to Jill Tuck (played by Betsy Russell) who is the ex-wife of John Kramer, aka Jigsaw and we dive into their past. Those parts helped give Jigsaw context and it was what added a foundation making Jigsaw actually more human as despite the extreme he took it, there was a reason behind this. Its smart to bring new players to a franchise and expand on the backstory.

Overall, I can’t say that I’m particularly a huge fan of Saw IV. It had its solid moments that truly did redeem itself. I do say that Saw franchise has this pattern and its starting to make it hard to watch a ton in advance before I review because it just meshes all together. I think that makes a point of how it lacks originality as other than making new intricate traps and new tests, its really formulaic. The new characters breathe some new life to it and its in these characters and dialogue where it shines. Saw IV is a tiny step back up from Saw III. Its kind of near the Saw II rating (at least that is my score for Letterboxd). Three more movies to go in the franchise (or 4 if I see the upcoming Jigsaw out depending on schedule) and there is somewhat of a redemption in this one for myself so at least I’m a little more eager to see Saw V.

Have you seen Saw IV?

Horror Marathon: Saw III (2006)

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadian friends! 🙂

We continue our horror marathon with the next Saw entry, Saw III. At this point of the franchise, I went into this not exactly sure where it will go. The second one was lackluster and the first was really good. However, this is still at the helms of the sequel’s director so lets just say expectations weren’t particularly high.  Let’s just jump right in!

Saw III (2006)

Saw III

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Cast: Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Angus Macfadyen, Bahar Soomekh, Dina Meyer, Lyriq Bent

Jigsaw kidnaps a doctor named Lynn denlon to keep him alive while he watches his new apprentice put an unlucky citizen named Jeff through a brutal test. Lynn has to keep jigsaw alive until Jeff completes the test or else Lynn will die – IMDB

Saw III takes a turn with a really different vibe. At this point, if you haven’t read the last two, this one is going to have certain spoilers relating to the flow of the story. In the previous one, we’ve learned that Jigsaw has an apprentice in the one girl that has escaped in the first one, Amanda Young. Jigsaw is on his death bed and both him and Amanda are trying to keep him alive in this last elaborate trap/redemption for a man who has lost his child and lives in mourning. However, Saw III takes a different approach as it has very much a more gory and disgusting choice in its scenes than the first two. There are some truly gut-wrenching scenes in particular one death scene. Saw III so far is the weakest of the three so far in the franchise and that comes with somewhat of a lackluster build-up even if its ending tries very hard to be clever to link back events and characters to make it find its worth.

Saw III

Saw III, like the previous ones, takes us on two primary storylines. One is of Jeff and the other of the psychological battle of the doctor kidnapped to try to make sure Jigsaw survives. Since I enjoy these Jigsaw bits more and through his conversation, understanding his character a little more, this part is the stronger part, however, it does feel so pointless at parts because it focuses on Amanda Young who seems to have this toxic relationship with Jigsaw (but then, Jigsaw is a pretty toxic character with some warped sense of life), whereas she seems to be a very extreme character leading her to some of the tense moments while seeing how she is also weak. In fact, Shawnee Smith does a decent job at this character. The fault might be in the writing being slightly convoluted in showcasing her character as Amanda Young.

Saw III

On the other hand, Jeff’s storyline leads us to most of the gory parts as he needs to face one obstacle after the next. These obstacles are truly a psychological battle as Jigsaw tests his stubbornness of holding onto his grief and not letting go to continue to see what he has and be grateful for those things. It all seems like such an obstacle because in the first one, there is  a connection for the people he’s captured. This one, we wonder why he’s captured him. I mean, Jigsaw is a pretty intricate man. He picks his victims with purpose. Instead, here we see a lot of pieces lined together from the opening scenes and such to picking Jeff. Of course, Jeff is a character that is battling with his own emotions however, it feels so dull to keep watching him go through one person to the next that could have been responsible for his child’s death not having justice or treated correctly, etc.

To be fair, Saw III does pull the story together at the end. Just like the second one, the ending is its strength however, it hardly justifies the very lackluster beginning and middle sections that only try to make us wonder in dumb dialogue and gory and disgusting moments. Saw III is one that I didn’t enjoy a lot. It had a clever ending and for that, it did take me by surprise slightly although at a certain part, I had started piecing everything together. However, it is my least favorite till now.

That’s for for this review! Did you see Saw III?
Saw III makes worry about where the next one will go. At least there’s Scott Patterson, right?

Horror Marathon: Saw II (2005)

Back into the the Saw franchise, we hop into its direct sequel, Saw II. Where can the film go from the ending of the first? Thats pretty hard to see. Saw II has changed hands to a new director, Darren Lynn Bousman who is pretty green with this being its second full length feature. He however does take the reins for the next two. At least Leigh Whannell is still on as co-writer.

Lets check it out.

Saw II (2005)

Saw 2

Director (&co-writer) : Darren Lynn Bousman

Cast: Tobin Bell, Donnie Wahlberg, Shawnee Smith, Erik Knudsen, Dina Meyer, Franky G, Lyriq Bent

A detective and his team must rescue 8 people trapped in a factory by the twisted serial killer known as Jigsaw.-IMDB

Saw II is a peculiar direction to take. This time, Jigsaw is tracked down by the police and his only request is to have a talk with Donnie Wahlberg’s character, Eric Matthews whose son was kidnapped. As with most Jigsaw games, there is a countdown and this time, the time is ticking on the screen that is projecting where his son is cooped up with a few other people with different backgrounds. However, the familiar face appears here as we see last movie’s escapee, Amanda Young yet again be captured. The countdown turns out to have many meanings however, its main one is that Jigsaw says there is a toxic gas in the air that will kill them all if they don’t escape. The story and concept of this one seems a little cliche at parts and even if this is just the second film, the audience is pretty much smarter than the cast itself however, the true game and tension is in Jigsaw and Matthews chat. Saw II is really average however, the ending does have some clever twists, mostly in the finale.

SAW 2

Its important to talk about the characters here because when the movie finished, I had to think about certain characters and whether it was because the character is written dumb or the acting was lackluster. Perhaps it is the fact that now there are so many more players in Jigsaw’s game that the immersion is stripped from their importance or just our lack of connection to these characters. It sucks that they are in this situation but the key is why are they there more than who they are and even the minute chance that they will escape. Lets just face the fact here. A lot of the characters here engaged in petty arguments and deliberate prejudices and it lacked that natural flow of character development that the first had. The only one we needed to care for was Matthews’ son and Amanda Young. It turned its focus on the contraptions that the characters has to deal with related to their crime that Jigsaw had drawn out for them than the story itself. I honestly don’t believe the Saw was in its spectacles even in the first one. The direction definitely leaves something to be desired. The character that I really disliked the most was somewhat of the “villain” of the whole situation played by Franky G and somehow maybe its because he did capture the role correctly even if it was a very uninspired character.

saw 2

The joy of Saw was in its disturbing mind games and the psychological factor that it had. Sure, it was messed up in whatever Jigsaw contraption because of its extremity however we can already see in Saw 2 that in the hands of someone else the tone has shifted. Even the script is much weaker. The whole experience was still entertaining however it was more in the conversation between Eric Matthews and Jigsaw more than the 8 characters suffering the ordeals in a mystery location that needed to be saved. While the ending twist was quite clever, it didn’t help that getting there wasn’t quite as innovative.

A true shame that we can already see the slow demise of the franchise in this sequel. Maybe, it’ll come back in the third? We can only see since this one ended on somewhat of an open ending.

Have you seen Saw 2? Thoughts? Did you like it more or less than I did?

Horror Marathon: Saw (2004)

We always kick off the Horror Marathon with our headliner! This year is Saw in case you missed the announcement yesterday. If you did, you can get a sneak peek of a few upcoming entries as well. I’m still in the process of watching as I’m drafting this review up so even if you asked me for other titles, I might not be completely sure. So let’s all be surprised, right?

I’ve always had the impression that Saw was a gore fest and its one of the reasons why I’ve avoided it all these years however, I’ve also learned that gore and torture porn while may not always be my constant watch, they tend to not scare me so much either. They make me uneasy if done really well but no lingering effects for the most part. However, the first Saw had its surprises for sure.

Let’s check it out!

 Saw (2004)

Saw

Director (and co-writer): James Wan

Cast: Cary Elwes, Leigh Whanell, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Tobin Bell

Two strangers awaken in a room with no recollection of how they got there or why, and soon discover they are pawns in a deadly game perpetrated by a notorious serial killer. – IMDB

Cary Elwes and Leigh Whanell! Wow, it sure shows how little I know about Saw. Right off the bat, Saw starts off in tense moments showing us exactly the intricacy of Jigsaw’s plans. By the time, we get to Cary Elwes as the doctor and Leigh Whanell as the photographer trapped in the room with him, it starts being more psychological. If anything, Jigsaw and the Saw franchise is who started the escape room craze in an extreme way of working together and just with incredibly higher stakes. Saw is a psychological journey and a pretty tense and smart one at that. Jigsaw puts down these elaborate plans to reveal these characters’ secrets while using it as an extra layer of his obsession to push his captives to fight for survival to cherish their life.

Saw

Based on this entry piece for Saw, its not hard to see how this had a sequel. Jigsaw is still a huge mystery and that is mostly because his game gives his characters many layers to learn about and build up. Just like our two captives here. Both Leigh Whanell and Cary Elwes delivers some great performances. Sure, there are some over the top moments but somehow they all seem deliberate to either create some humor that could break the tension however, humor is definitely far and few here. On the other hand, the captives are also followed with a back story of sorts as we follow the detectives who try to track down Jigsaw played by Danny Glover and his partner played by Ken Leung. It is also through the investigation that we learn a little more about Jigsaw.

Saw

Perhaps here is the perfect place to talk about the story because James Wan and Leigh Whanell truly write a fantastic story. Its twisted and intriguing. Its characters are unraveled in a great pace and have enough depth to make them both mysterious and suspicous. As great as the actors here are, it does help that the script is very strong.

Overall, Saw is a great way to start a franchise and it will be interesting to see where the story goes next. Sequels rarely are as strong as their first part so I’m going to keep my expectations tame for Saw 2. However, for this marathon, its also an awesome to start with something both psychologically thrilling and disturbing all at the same time. I’m starting to feel a little silly that I’ve put off watching Saw for so long.

Have you seen Saw? Which is your favorite entry of this franchise?

Halloween Horror Marathon Announcement!!

Its the 5th ANNUAL HALLOWEEN HORROR MARATHON ANNOUNCEMENT!

Another year sure passes by fast! 5 years since I’ve officially hopped back into the horror scene! For those who don’t know, I had stopped for a while from horror films mostly because I’m just a major scaredy-cat and almost anything scares me. My husband scares me occassionally just by walking up when I’m working. Jumpy? That I am. Anyways, the break was needed and in 2012, I decided to hop back in and man, has it been a fantastic journey. Most of my horror films now are seen in this month or during Fantasia Festival in July. And then its incredibly scattered throughout the year mostly whenever I feel like it, which isn’t too often because its a whole new challenge to figure out what horror subgenre I’d like to watch and then deciding on the film. Okay..stopping the rambling.

In the last 5 years, we’ve done a lot of the big franchises: Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday the 13th and even did Scream and Evil Dead last year. So, what next? The contenders for this year went from Hellraiser (which was abandoned because apparently one or two of the Hellraiser sequels are impossible to find) then Final Destination (which I heard is pretty disgusting) and finally, the final final decision is THE SAW FRANCHISE! Barring the last movie that will open in October because I’ll be swamped at work at that time frame so we will be looking at 7 existing movies!

Alongside that will be a few book reviews, TV binges and of course, other movie selection. I had a head start this year so some absolute ones making an appearance will be Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 1 TV Binge for example. In terms of books, IT is being read but its taking a long time so I fill in the breaks with Horror Movies A Day. Hopefully that might inspire some of the movie choices if I can find them. As for movies, The Autopsy of Jane Doe review is coming up.

Those are just three (or four) entries that you will see. Add in the 7 from Saw, we still have a lot of empty space… You know what else I’m doing which is incredibly overdue is to watch George A Romero’s films. We can’t afford to buy any ones that we don’t own so we have 3 more selections that will be reviewed. All first time viewings! I think it’ll be fun and interesting 🙂

So we have close to 15 entries set along with some random posts like Music Obsessions, My Weekly Adventures and such. The rest will be surprises as I haven’t started them yet but hopefully, they’ll all get some love. I’ll try to pick from Netflix and my unwatched physical copies.

As usual, if you have any suggestions, please do tell me what you’d like me to watch and I’ll try my best to see if I can access it. However, if you do suggest, you can check out if I’ve reviewed it before right HERE. At the time you are looking at it, it should be updated till the end of September!

See you all tomorrow for the first entry as we kick off with the review of Saw!