Saw V (2008) starring Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Julie Benz, Meagan Good directed by David Hackl Movie Review

Saw V (2008)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Scott Patterson as Agent Strahm in one of Jigsaw's traps in Saw V

Jigsaws Missing Pieces

After the revelation that "Saw IV" was more of an equal than a sequel, with its storyline running in parallel to that of "Saw III". I sat down to watch "Saw V" wondering where they could lead the storyline this time as Jigsaw was dead, most of the unanswered questions had been answered and the majority of the pivotal characters had been dispatched with in one gruesome manner or another. Well in typical "Saw" manner they came up with another convoluted plot which somehow manages to fit into the constantly evolving story around Jigsaw as well as delivering more than just a splattering of visual gore. Except this time round it feels more than ever like they are draining the last drop of blood out of a franchise which should never had got to part III let alone reach part V.

After the death of Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and several fellow officers Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) gets a promotion for his work in bringing the serial killer down. But Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson), who himself nearly became a victim of one of the traps, continues to investigate the murders and believes that Hoffman was actually conspiring with Jigsaw, working as his apprentice and it's up to him to solve the clues and bring Hoffman down. Meanwhile, 5 strangers wake up in a locked room, all shackled together where they soon learn that they are to play a series of torturous games which have to be completed in order to win their freedom.

Costas Mandylor as Mark Hoffman in Saw V

As with the last two Saw movies, "Saw V" is built from a couple of points from the previous movies, these being what happened to Agent Strahm and also that we discovered that Detective Hoffman had in fact been helping Jigsaw all along. The thing is the longer the "Saw" series has gone on the further away it gets from the original movie which absolutely oozed tension. These days and in particular with "Saw V" it feels just like any other horror thriller, there is nothing which really makes it stand out from the crowd. Yes there is the gore element but even this is lacking the shock factor which made the original so great.

Whilst "Saw V" is just like any other horror-thriller I will give credit where credit is due and say the way the movies inter twine is very clever. Elements from the earlier movies are brought back so that even at part 5 it doesn't feel like a loosely attached sequel rather than part of an ongoing storyline. It's just a shame that this time round the storyline feels so convoluted that it's hard to stay interested in what's going on. This is even more so when the group of victims this time round appear purely so that they can be dispatched at a whim with some torture device. It's just that "Saw V" doesn't gel together very well; there are too many storylines at odds with each other leading to even more confusion. Maybe this is the intention to set up yet another sequel which expands on these points but it makes things a little too messy for my liking.

As for the torture devices well I can't believe I am going to say this but I was disappointed. All the ingenuity as to how the poor victims were going to die seems to have been lost and the devices seem far too obvious. Part of the reason being is that the only time we get to see the victims is when they are about to be dispatched, with most of the movie focusing on Strahm and Hoffman. What this means is that we have no sympathy with those whose lives are in peril and so when they die we don't care. It just doesn't have the same impact when it's about a character which we have got to know. Even the most gruesome of deaths doesn't really have any shock anymore because we expect it and everything is sign posted to how it will happen rather than making us wait in suspense.

The good news is that Tobin Bell again features as Jigsaw and as the movie covers a lot of old ground giving us a different perspective on it we also get a different perspective on Jigsaw himself. Unfortunately even Bell fails to deliver as convincingly as he did in the previous movies and I get a feeling that even he has grown slightly disillusioned with a franchise past its best. What this means is that the focus of the movie is again on Agent Strahm played by Scott Patterson as well as Detective Hoffman played by Costas Mandylor and unfortunately by doing this it makes "Saw V" feel like any other detective thriller. Patterson and Mandylor do a fair job in their roles but neither brings anything really new to characters which could have been plucked from any other detective thriller.

What this all boils down to is that for me "Saw V" was a disappointment, as a stand alone thriller it would have been ok but as part of the "Saw" franchise it feels like a poor cousin. All the tension and shock of the original movies has disappeared and been replaced with a convoluted mess of a storyline and a series of torture sequences which don't feel like they fit. As always "Saw V" leaves plenty of unanswered questions, especially that of a mysterious box left to Jigsaw's ex girlfriend so part VI will arrive no doubt in the lead up to Halloween one year but hopefully next time round they will recapture the magic of the originals rather than drifting further away from all which made the "Saw" movies so good.