Saw V (DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsey Russell
Directed by David Hackl
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Halloween belongs to Saw.
Or at least it used to. The Saw franchise has been one weird trip, man. The first film was a good little slasher with a very cool twist. Darren Bousman's Saw II and Saw III actually exceeded all expectations and in my opinion were better than the original. Saw IV was pretty good, too, but the problem was it just didn't stand on its own. In fact, if you didn't sit through at least Part III prior to watching it, you'd be pretty clueless as to what was going on. Saw IV was really more like Saw 3 1/2. From there Bousman departed the franchise and left it in the hands of David Hackl, his assistant director in the series. The films before Saw V were always complex and riddled with twists and turns, but this one? Welcome to Saw for Dummies.
Where to begin? I know! The story! What a friggin' mess. Detective Hoffman (Mandylor) has taken over the reins for Jigsaw (Bell) now that he's cold and dead. There's a new game that's been laid out with all new characters, but unfortunately for our budding baddie, a loose end from the earlier films, Agent Strahm (Patterson), is wise to Hoffman's murderous ways and is out to expose him for the monster that he is. Okay. On paper that doesn't sound too bad. So what went wrong?
First off, Mandylor is no Tobin Bell. He just lacks the sinister charisma that is essential to the spirit of the films. The only good points in this entire lame-fest come when Bell is onscreen doing his thing.
Next there's the character of Strahm. How does this guy figure out Hoffman is involved? By touching files and/or objects and speaking what he's thinking aloud. Yes, apparently he's the first ever reader of Psycho Braille™. It's so ludicrously laughable you'll be sitting there wondering, "What in the world am I watching this for?"
Then there's the new game. Apparently Jigsaw has taken an interest in a dirty real estate deal. How sinister! Of course there's a bit more than that, but at its core? Real estate. Head ... hurting ... already ...
And finally there are the traps themselves. Are you kidding me? With the exception of the first two devices, every other one in this film has to do with jars of rusty nails that are laced with explosives. "Do this, this, and that in this amount of time or the explosives will go off!" Um ... a couple of things ... the rooms with the traps were laid out in a linear fashion. One room opens, our players walk in, shut the door, and the next game starts. That's right -- the explosives timer will not start until someone closes the damned door. Ahem ... how about we just leave the door open and wait until help arrives? Better yet -- if you simply must keep entering the rooms in succession, why not just break the glass jars that are housing the nails? That would be akin to defusing the situation, no?
Once we've made it through to the big finish, everything is so over-explained via flashbacks that you'll be tempted to shut off the DVD, pop it out, and snap it in half for treating you like an idiot. To make matters even worse, Saw V's entire marketing campaign kept touting that "you won't believe how it ends". Well, they were right. I never thought that anyone could conjure up drivel this insipid, banal, and void of any tension or intelligence. Wow. Just wow.
If you truly are a glutton for punishment, feel free to check out the DVD's special features. Beyond the two congratulations-strewn commentaries, the behind-the-scenes material is better than the film itself. We get five featurettes running about five minutes each, which detail the various traps and gore effects of this fifth entry. This unrated version has plenty of the red stuff being splashed around, and seeing how it's all put together never stops being interesting. Having worked with prosthetics artists François Dagenais and Damon Bishop recently on another film, I can honestly say that these two guys are way on top of their *ahem* game. Save yourself the trouble -- Just watch the kills here in the featurettes and be done with it.
Saw V succeeds in only two areas --
One: The joy that I get from singing "Mandylor ... Mandylor ... COSTAS MANDYLOR" to the film's score. Try it! It's fun and it's free!
Two: Making the usually smoking hot Julie Benz look completely unattractive by placing her in the worst fright wig I've seen since Tony Todd's Dread Wig of Doom™ in Shadow: Dead Riot.
Please ... I'm begging the powers that be ... pick up your bat and ball and let this series slip away with what little dignity it has left. I know these pleas are falling on deaf ears since Saw VI is already on the way, but still. Sigh. Who am I kidding? See ya next year. That is unless I opt to do the smart thing and blind myself before October.
1 1/2 out of 5
3 out of 5
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