Friday, October 22, 2010

Saw film series in retrospect

In what's being advertised as the final chapter, Saw 3-D will be released Oct. 29.

The Saw franchise has only been around for six years, but in that six years there has been seven films, two video games, a comic book, and even a roller coaster. Not bad Saw, not bad at all. Well done.

Saw popularized the torture-porn sub-genre of horror. Now, instead of horror being about scantly-clad women running from an axe murderer (there is a 65 percent chance of seeing boobies in any horror film) the horror is in the situation. The victim is already caught, and it's the escape that keeps us entertained. How will the victim (notice how I didn't say hero) escape from each trap without dying or getting tetanus?

To be honest, I doubt any of us want to see the victim escape. These films make money on account of each viewer's blood lust. The Rube Goldberg death machines are spring loaded for our entertainment and dammit, someone better be ripped to shreds by it. Many horror films put us in the place of the victim, trying to escape the masked killer. Instead, with Saw, we are the observer. We are the accomplice in all of this, watching the poor soul fighting to survive. Every Saw film is devoid of any kind of hope.


Seven theatrical films are a lot for any franchise. It seems only horror films ever reach that number. Getting there as quickly as the Saw films is unheard of. What it comes down to is the assembly line production of the series. Really, there isn't much to the writing. It doesn't come down to much more than thinking up different death-devices. And the demand for such entertainment is there. Some people may be exhausted by the franchise, the dip in box office is evidence of this, however there is still want for these simple yet effective flicks.

The first Saw film had a budget of $1.2 million. It would go on to earn $55 million dollars domestically, and the worldwide gross puts it at a total of $103 million. Saw II, made for $4 million, ended up making $147 million worldwide. You cannot blame the studios for milking Saw for all it's worth every Halloween with numbers like these. It's the greatest short-con ever. Make a simple film for relatively no money whatsoever and make 100x profit off it.

As previously stated, the public at large did become tired of the movies every year. As filming became more expensive, with each movie's traps trying to top the previous by becoming more ridiculous, the box office began to dwindle. Saw hit its peak with Saw II, every year after that the films made less money. Saw VI has made the least amount of money so far, only grossing $27 million domestically.

They see me rollin' they hatin'

Now, in what could be the final chapter, the filmmakers decided to embrace the recent 3-D gimmick. What will surely follow is the most blatant abuse of three dimensions since Piranha 3-D. That's not to say the movie will be bad. Hell, it will probably make it more enjoyable than all the others. It's just important to recognize the gimmick for what it is.

You do have to give the Saw filmmakers some credit. Although it is preposterous to continue the series four films after the main character died (because aside from Jigsaw, what other honest-to-goodness character is in the movies? There is no humanity shown in the films except for the serial killer. Everyone else is just a body to be mutilated), it is a godsend that Jigsaw has not been resurrected in some cheap manner. They could of taken the easy route by resurrecting Jigsaw somehow, like we see in every other horror film out there. Instead they respected the audience enough to leave the dead buried.

Although Saw 3-D is set to be the last film, I doubt it'll be the last we see of the franchise. It's too viable of a brand. It probably won't be long until we get more sequels or, god forbid, even a remake. Years from now there will be movie marathon nights devoted entirely to Saw. They are simple films (Don't let the whole "embrace life through near death" theme get to you. It's just an excuse to see blood) but they are also genius in that simplicity. Goodbye Saw, for now.

I hear every time you play with your own action figure, God kills a kitten.

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