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Thursday, October 08, 2009

The "Saw" series is approaching its sixth installment. There's a large part of me that wonders why the series continues limping along, dripping copious amounts of blood as it shuffles onward, apparently unaware that it died several films ago. The last one I watched was the third one, and that was at least one too many.

But as often (and justifiably) maligned as the films are, I don't think we should just throw the gory baby out with the bathwater. The series really started to lose me sometime during the first sequel, but I still think that "Saw"--sans roman numerals of any sort--is a good movie.

There's a lot going on in "Saw." You've got the police investigation into a killer who borrows a lot from "Seven," you've got the increasingly panicked banter of Cary Elwes and...that other guy as they try to figure out what's going on, you've got the stalking of Cary's family, and you've got Danny Glover stalking Cary's stalker. The core of the movie is the kind of clever dilemma that gets proposed in a philosophy textbook, with a twist ending that I thought was actually quite well done.

For that matter, I like Jigsaw's motivation. In a very bizarre way, it's kind of like "It's a Wonderful Life," where he's changing people's perceptions and making them appreciate what they have by putting them through incredibly terrible experiences. He's forcing a motivational speaker's background on his targets--new perspective through trauma and adversity.

It's also worth noting, I think, that the first "Saw" is relatively light on gore. Sure, there's the disgusting settings that permeate the film, but as far as blood, guts, and violence go, the sequels really ramp that up--much to their detriment. There were a couple of scenes in the second one that really made me squirm, chiefly the pit of needles, but I didn't think the first one had anything along those lines.

What I'm trying to say in this rambling post working from old memories is that I think the "Saw" franchise deserves a lot of the abuse it gets. It largely kicked off the "gore over substance" trend that's killing modern horror movies *cough*RobZombie*cough*, and its sequels have spiraled into self-absorption and obsolescence. But let's not judge a movie by its sequels; "Saw" stands on its own as a pretty decent horror flick.

And if they'd stuck with that, instead of getting bogged down in Jigsaw as a character and his henchmen and whatnot, it might have made for a good series.

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