Let me start out, right off the bat, assauge any fears of spoilers here within – this is not a blog about SAW V. It is a discussion, philosophical no, fanboy yes, about several of the previous movies of the SAW franchise. So, any spoilers are old hat and probably mostly irrelevant to most folks who would click and read this spot.
I remember hearing the premise for the original Saw movie and thinking, ‘Wow, that’s pretty fucked up.’ It coujured up conjectures about the influence of films like SEVEN. This was of course before the whole ‘goreno’ wave came, led by Eli Roth’s unbelievably terrible, not violent, not disturbing, not even remotely entertaining hostile, followed swiftly by weak, imitative E.B. Farnum retards with names like ‘touristas’ and ‘captivity’ and any combination of insert-torture-brand-here + the word ‘Alive’. Now, as much as I love to rip on hostile from experience and any of these others from the sideline, that’s perhaps best saved for a different blog. The intent here is to talk about the Saw franchise, as much of a waste of time that really is in the grand scheme of things. Hey – I like to talk about what I watch (in case you haven’t noticed) and you probably do too, considering you’re on CHUD.
So let’s talk.
My initial viewing of Saw the original was in a theatre, shortly after it opened. That has been the only viewing until just recently when, due to some friends’ idea to go to the theatre in the immediate future to see the aforementioned new installment in the series I decided to re-watch the series from the beginning. So my second viewing reiterated my original reaction. The style is outstanding, the acting sucks.
Cary Elwes is sooooo bad in this movie, especially in the climactic scenes where he decides ‘whine*my family needs me*whine’ and indeed takes a cue from his captor and saws his leg off. If you rewatch this anytime soon, look at the ridiculous makeup (which is present in most of these films at one time or another) – it’s been a couple hours and his face is covered with ill-blended foundation and dark eye makeup to try and make him look, apparently, as if his tormentors had ‘set the mkeup gun to Whore’. And really this visual fau paux may have been dismissable in a film otherwise wrought with great sets, great atmopshere and some geniunely fucked up moments of suspense and revelation, if not for the equally bad if not worse constant, unbelievable, I’m-just-here-for-the-paycheck-so-I’m-phoning-it-in-but-whoops-this-is-actually
ask-me-back-and-now-how-can-I-afford-my-undeserved-moviestar-lifestyle performance by this toad.
Listen to his screams. The only thing haunting about them is that someone paid him (albeit probably not much) to perform them.
So primarily based on Cary’s performance I have often looked back with a smirk at Saw, and orginally never intended to follow the rest.
However – a little over a year and a half later when Saw II: More Saw came out on video my wife, girlfriend at the time, bought it for me as a gift. I have to admit I was a little puzzeled (no pun intended) as to why – she hated the first one and I ripped on the acting whenever it came up, so chalk it up to inspiration. Anyway, she bought it, I watched it and really I thought at the time, it’s not too bad. And with a subsequent viewing I have to say I still agree. It’s probably the best of the first three movies. Obviously this has to do with the fact that they really took a trick or two from the CUBE movies, of which I generally love. But also, even though the bad make-up is there, and Donnie Wahlberg definitely isn’t going to win any awards for dramatic acting any time soon, watched in close proximity to the first movie, he looks like fucking Peter Sellers. And of course, in the second movie there are a host of more ingenuity in the traps and puzzles ol’ Jiggy leaves for his ‘guests’ – my personal fav here even though I can barely watch it is the syringe pit. Yummy.
Now we come to the third movie. Again, upon its initial release I had not one iota of inclination to see this regardless of how I’d felt about two. Gorno, was in full swing and everything just felt like ‘okay, let’s one up how disturbing we can be, mmmmhahaha’. Then again on video it got me. At Sam’s Club* I found an exclusive two-pack that was, remarkably, Saw III and George A. Romero’s BRUISER, a great, hard to find on DVD flick I’d been looking for. So I conversely became the owner of Saw as well. After watching this one one scene made such an impact on me for it’s sheer genius that until my recent re-watching I remembered this as being the ‘best’ of the franchise.
The scene in question, which I think I actually stood up off my couch and applauded upon first seeing, was the ‘Pig blender’ trap. If you don’t know what this is, and are not squimish, you owe it to yourself to rent this just for this scene. The funny thing in re-watching it is that I found I remembered next to nothing at all about the rest of the movie, particularly not HOW GODAWFUL ATROCIOUS THE ACTING IS once again. In fact, I’m pretty sure everyone but Tobin Bell must have went to the ‘quick lessons in acting in a saw movie’ that Cary Elwes no doubts sets up every year just off set of the newest film in order to try and make some money. Really, I hate to call out a Scotsman, but Angus Macfadyen sucks so fucking bad as ‘Jeff’ that it was almost like futuristic suck – as if Paris Hilton moves to Glasgow in ten years, fucks a pratt from Leith (or twelve) and their spawn, possessed mostly of all mom’s ‘irritatingly pointless’ genes finds a way to come back in time and get a gig on the Saw Franchise. Or maybe it’s Cary Elwes in disguise. Wouldn’t that be Jigsaw’s ultimate last laugh, eh?
So needless to say, three of these in rapid succession, while enhancing the overall story I didn’t realize was present from the beginning and which is pretty damn well written (again, the story, not the dialogue) and clever, turned me off to continuing on for a first viewing of IV and a trip to the theatre for V.
Maybe in a six months when V is on video.