It's hard to believe that we're already up to a fifth Saw film -- with a sixth on the way. It feels like only last year that I walked out of the first one shaking my head, murmuring about how terrible it was with an audience that had laughed all the way through the third, painful act. But here we are, four and a half years and four sequels later with Saw V. Jigsaw is back (kinda) and once again an elaborate set of traps are sprung onto an unsuspecting group of malcontents in need of saving.
While I am no fan of this series, I do like the direction the film has taken in its last two installments, for which they brought on a new writing team. With Jigsaw dead at the end of the third installment (the only one of the first three I really took to), they needed some way to make the menace still walk, without resorting to the cheesy supernatural "He'll never die, will he?" tropes of the mid-to-late '80s. And so they turned to the flashback. At first that might seem like a lame trick. Instead the flashbacks walk us through an elaborate web of connections, puzzles and mind games that fully explore every aspect of what Jigsaw has been up to -- from where he got his information to how he managed to construct such complicated traps. And it also has allowed for a few copycat killings to occur in the wake of his death.
The fifth film follows the story of two cops -- one is "dirty," so to speak, and working with Jigsaw, and the other is trying to root him out and find out where Jigsaw is getting all of his information. Meanwhile, we watch as Jigsaw, via flashbacks, set up the traps in the second film while explaining to his protégé how to go about the major trap here in the present. It's an interesting take that fleshes out and expands the universe of the Jigsaw killings without getting too silly, or any sillier than the series already was to begin with.
Though not what I would call "loaded," the features present are all excellent. Two commentaries take you all the way through the film, but the real treat are the features on the traps. There are none of the standard making-of clichés here. Instead each featurette shows us the ins and outs of each deathtrap in the film: from conception to design to the actual construction, the experts and director show us how each trap is supposed to work, how they made it and filmed it, and how they did each of the gore effects that it elicited. It is a Saw lover's paradise, because what a love of this series all comes down to is a love of these traps. I truly enjoyed watching this element, as it showed just how tough many of the traps were to film, to make work, and just how lethal they could be to the actors in real life, not just in the film.
Really, you already know whether or not you should check this out. Odds are you've seen at least one of the Saw movies -- and if you've seen all four, what are you waiting for? You know you're gonna watch part five. And when you do, check the features. You'll dig them. Even if the film doesn't entertain you, they will.
Saw V is available now from Lionsgate.