Movie News & Reviews

Don't bother to see 'Saw V'

After we watched every zombie movie we could find in the ColumbiaBasin, me and my buddy's great plan for the summer was to watchcomplete horror franchises.

Don't judge. While you were out talking to girls and getting tan, Iwas enriching myself with Friday the 13th and Nightmare onElm Street.

And where are your girls and skin cells now? Dead,that's where, while I'm still furious about Nightmare 2. Afterthe brain damage subsided, I started to wonder: why don't we havehorror franchises these days?

We have plenty of other terrible holdovers from the '80s, like thoseleg warmers and crimped hair you always see people walking aroundwith. We might never have known what would it be like if we had ahorror series of our own if Saw hadn't come along and answeredthat question with a resounding "It would be awful."

The Jigsaw Killer's latest massacre is, for him, something of a mixedbag: it takes down several cops on his case, but he ends up dead, too,taken down by hero cop Costas Mandylor.

Scott Patterson, the only other cop to survive the slaughter, smells arat. Though he doesn't know it, five more people have been kidnappedand stuffed into a Jigsaw-esque torture dungeon -- and unless they cansave themselves, Patterson's rogue investigation is the only thingthat can bring them home.

"Rogue" might be a strong word for what Patterson is up to. Showingthe deductive skills of eight Sherlock Holmeses packed into onepersonality-free set of street clothes, Patterson's entire search forthe new killer consists of...shuffling papers. It's a bold move bywriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, choosing to realisticallydepict the office drudgery of policework rather than going withsomething suspenseful, dangerous, or in any way interesting, and thatchoice sure doesn't pay off.

Wait, Patterson's search isn't realistic, either, considering hecompletes it over the span of about an hour. Or that time-compressioncould be the product of first-time director's David Hackl's hamfistedstorytelling, a minor cinematic miracle which makes even the simplestof plots needlessly confusing.

And make no mistake, the plot is simple. Sometimes that's cool for ahorror movie, like earlier this year when The Strangers waspretty much just a couple people terrorizing the hell out of a coupleother people and also everyone watching it. It's way less cool here,where five connected strangers are kidnapped and brought together forreasons which don't begin to be explored until after most of them aredead and forgotten.

No biggie, though, because it turns out their entire backstory is asshallow as a damp sock. Jigsaw's philosophy of teaching people toappreciate life by torturing the bejesus out of them was never thatdeep, but at least it's an ethos. By Saw V, there's nounderstanding behind it, just parroting what came before.

Most of it's trash, then. But how about the bloodshed and mayhem?Excellent question. That's the first thing I ask wheneveranyone recommends me a movie, book, or TV show: How graphic is itsviolence? Brutal enough to make me laugh, then feel bad? So creativelydisgusting I kick my heels against my chair like a toddler?

Nah, no such luck. Just a few mechanical deaths sprinkled around as ifthey have to be there rather than that they want to be there.

A lot of the fun of watching horror franchises is stumbling on a freshtake on the series or a movie so wonderfully bad it's a mystery howthe next one was ever made. Saw V is neither of these things.It's not worth the bar napkin it was scribbled on.

Grade: D-