SAW V – Film Review

Although John Kramer (Tobin Bell) aka the Jigsaw Killer and Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith) are dead, the game still lures five unassuming victims. In the guise of a survival of the fittest routine, the contestants begin their journey towards a deadly end.

Saw V had all the right materials to make another truly great entry in the franchise. The original James Wan-directed film from 2004 still remains superior thanks to its haunting story, claustrophobic atmosphere, and shocking twists and turns. Saw II was a colossal disappointment that took everything great about the first and threw it out of the window, but III was actually quite strong in many regards, as was IV.

Even though I like a couple of films in this franchise, the follow-ups all share something in common – terrible editing, poor directing, and a story that just isn’t gripping. I was hoping that since this fifth installment boasts a brand new director, David Hackl, that it was going to be a big course change for the better. Sadly though, it’s not. I am currently doing a Saw marathon and as of right now, this is my least favorite in the series.

Of the many things this movie does wrong, the biggest of which has to be its extremely recycled story. Everything that happens throughout the course of this film happened in every other installment and I genuinely have no idea how Hackl and the screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan don’t realize this. It’s either this accidentally happened or they just simply didn’t care. I’m willing to bet it’s the latter.

Costas Mandylor as Mark Hoffman in Saw V (2008).

All of the twists and turns in Saw V? They’ve been done in all of the others, and quite a lot better mind you. Even for hardcore fans of the franchise, I can’t help but feel like this is going to be a bore for them. If you are only here for the torture scenes then maybe you’ll get somewhat of a kick out of this sequel, but even still, they aren’t the most impressive ones in the series. I think that title has to go to Saw III for the moment.

On top of all of that though, the film is just poorly acted by nearly everybody in the cast. Costas Mandylor and Scott Patterson in particular honestly feel as though they don’t want to be a part of this movie but did so to gain a little extra money. With that being said though, Tobin Bell is still such a revelation as the sick and twisted John Kramer. Bell’s performance as the ruthless and creepy Jigsaw Killer has been the one constant throughout the entire Saw series. He feels totally cold and unforgiving at every single moment and is the type of person you would get the chills by just looking at. The character may be dead at this point in the timeline, but the film does feature some flashbacks to when he was alive, and all of them are well-acted.

As bold and wise of a choice it was to kill off John Kramer at the end of Saw III, it’s now becoming painfully stale to see new characters try to step up to the plate of what Kramer did with his traps. Instead of being a chilling reminder that even without Kramer’s existence, the disgusting games will always go on with new people behind the reigns, it instead comes across as a reminder that the Saw franchise is running out of ideas, and fast.

Saw V is a painstakingly boring and unimaginative torture-fest with no new ideas present, a story that is dull to follow, and has weak acting throughout.

Overall Grade: D

MPAA Rating: R for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, language and brief nudity

Cast: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Mark Rolston, Julie Benz, Carlo Rota, Meagan Good

Directed by: David Hackl

Distributed by: Lionsgate

Release Date: October 24, 2008

Running Time: 92 minutes

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