Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Reviews : SAW I-VII (2004-2010)

"Saw" is one of the longest-running horror series in cinema history, arguably overstaying its welcome, but growing to become a worldwide phenomenon with legions of fans and a brand new iconic villain who earned his place right alongside the likes of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. Below you will find the full collection of "Entertainment Factor" reviews (with links to the complete posts) for all the seven movies in the series :

  • SAW (2004) - The year 2004 was a good year for movies. We had "Finding Neverland", "Ray", "Million Dollar Baby", "The Aviator", "The Bourne Supremacy", "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", "Hotel Rwanda" and many, many others. Indeed, a good year for movies. But among the sleeper hits, there was also "Saw". Independently produced on a 1,2 million dollars budget by a first-time director, James Wan, this little horror feature, which was initally intended to be a straight-to-video release, went on to become an iconic franchise, which spawned six sequels in six years and brought splatter cinema back into the mainstream spotlight. It also overstayed its welcome, dragging the story out until it became as mangled as one of Jigsaw's victims. We'll get there, but first, let's talk about "Saw". (READ MORE)
  • SAW II (2005)
    - In 2005, the first of the "Saw" sequels came out in time for Halloween. This would become a yearly habit. The last week of October became a traditional time frame for the release of new "Saw" entries. Part II also represented the feature film debut of Darren Lynn Bousman, who would go on to direct the next two sequels as well as a similarly twisted horror rock musical, "Repo! The Genetic Opera". This was a defining moment for both Bousman's carreer and the franchise's future. (READ MORE)
  • SAW III (2006)
    - Another Halloween, another "Saw" movie. The second movie was one of the most profitable in the series, with a domestic box-office of 86 million dollars and a total of 147 million dollars grossed worldwide, all on a budget of just 4 million. It's easy to figure out that the people over at Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures started thinking about how they could milk the franchise for more money. They even had the tagline say : "If it's Halloween, it must be 'Saw'". Director Darren Lynn Bousman once again returns to the franchise, as well as veteran "Saw" writer Leigh Whannell. This was the last installment written by Whannell. (READ MORE)
  • SAW IV (2007)
    - (SPOILER ALERT !!!) Jigsaw is dead, killed at the end of "Saw III". My initial reaction to that was one of shock, translated as "Damn, they killed off the most important character of this franchise !", followed by a very brutal and dissapointed "What the hell are they going to do now ?". The answer came quickly enough a year later, when "Saw IV" was released, in the form of a new team of screenwriters : Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, two up-and-coming writers who had previously exercised their grip on the horror genre with the 2005 creature feature "Feast". (READ MORE)
  • SAW V (2008)
    - With the franchise firmly rooted in the public's mind, the routine of a "Saw" movie each year was no longer surprising to anyone. With "Saw IV" expanding the universe, it was obvious that the series was far from over. Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan returned to writing duties, but Bousman would not resume his duties as director. Instead, David Hackl, the production designer on parts II, III and IV, took over . An odd choice if you ask me. Were the studios out of options ? (READ MORE)
  • SAW VI (2009)
    - So close to the end, yet still so far away from a solid "Saw" movie. Since part V failed to generate the revenue they hoped for, it seems the studios decided to wrap it up quickly. Not that they would mind milking it for more money until the end of times, but it was fairly obvious that the box-office response part V received was cold enough to put the producers on guard regarding the future of further Saw sequels. So, they went and got themselves a new director, Kevin Greutert, the editor of the past five movies and decided to bring closure to Jigsaw's fans. There would only be this one and one more entry, called "Saw 3D". It's actually ironic in a way that “Saw VI”, for the first time in the past four movies, seemed to be heading in the right direction for a change. (READ MORE)
  • SAW 3D (2010)
    - I've sat through a six movie marathon of Saw-proportions and lived to tell the tale. That's aproximatively 540 minutes of blood and guts. Now I am faced with the last in the series, the one they call 3D. In the hope of reviving the franchise's financial viability, after "Saw VI" could not hold on for more than two weeks in the box-office's top 10, the worst ever performance for a "Saw" movie, the studios decided it's time to go 3D. So, for the last time, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan returned as writers and Kevin Greutert was wrestled back into the director's chair. It's well known that Greutert was going to direct "Paranormal Activty 2", but was obligated by Lionsgate, through some contractual enforcing, to drop that and return to "Saw 3D". This last one was supposed to be two separate movies, but thankfully, they decided against it. The big revelation has arrived. Was it worth the wait ? NO ! (READ MORE)