Having sat through all of the Saw sequels, I am happy to say Saw V is arguably the best one I’ve seen. That’s faint praise, however, because I still think it is pretty darn pointless and not really worth the time to sit through; I just mean the doing so didn’t pain me near as much enduring II, III and especially IV did.
As expected, this one picks up where the last one ended at which time it was revealed Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) was indeed one of the late Jigsaw’s (Tobin Bell) disciples and was continuing his torturous “education” process for those who’ve done wrongs during their lifetimes. FBI Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson), a survivor of one of the unidentified killer’s traps, sets out to prove his fellow partner in law enforcement isn’t everything he appears to be, going against orders to bet on a hunch no one else suspects.
If anything, the main plotline is tiredly routine, more like an episode of “C.S.I.” than an entry in this bizarrely popular series. I didn’t care about Strahm, didn’t give a darn about seeing flashbacks (sometimes even flashbacks within flashbacks) of the previous films showing how Hoffman fell under Jigsaw’s spell and I certainly wasn’t remotely interested in whether or not the FBI agent would catch the detective doing harm before falling victim to one of his macabre devices.
What did interest me was the game being played about five selfish, and on the surface entirely unconnected, individuals. They’re sent through a gruesome series of tasks forcing them to reveal who they are (and how they relate to the others around them) and compelling them to go against their inner natures and show trust to someone other than themselves. It’s a nifty little mousetrap, and while I kind of had the gag pegged by the second room I can’t help but admit I was still a wee bit impressed.
But that portion takes up maybe, and that’s a big maybe, 30 minutes of the picture’s 96-minute running time. The rest is filled with nothing more than pointless schlock boring me half to death. At this point all these Rube Goldberg-like mechanisms of death and dismemberment are all starting to blend, one into the other, and while they still have a tiny bit of shock value it isn’t enough to mask the fact this series is seriously running on empty.
Lionsgate’s DVD of Saw V presents the film in its original 1.78:1 Widescreen aspect ratio. It also boasts special featurettes on the traps the on-trial quintet endure, each room getting its own making-of piece that’s a must-watch for budding makeup and prosthetic effects artists looking to break into the horror industry. They’re nothing we haven’t seen before, though, and much like the majority of the film itself at this point the fun in learning how they bring these bloody tricks to life is pretty much gone.
The disc also features two audio commentaries, one with director David Hackl (tackling his first Saw as the head-man after working on the past four as production designer) and first assistant director Steve Webb. The second is with some of the sequel’s producers. These are really only necessary if you’re a die hard fan, and I only listened to the one with the directors (lots of gaps in their conversation, very technical at times, yet still not without its merits here and there) and skipped the other entirely; I just couldn’t sit through the film for a third time.
The box art also proclaims this to be the Unrated Director’s Cut, but what the differences are from the theatrical version to this DVD you’re guess is as good as mine. Lionsgate didn’t bother to screen this for critics when it was released back in October so I can’t tell you what’s been added. What I will say is the film ran about four-minutes shorter in its R-rated version, so the differences — whatever they may be — can’t be all that extreme one way or the other.
There is a Saw VI coming out this October so even though they killed off the main bad guy back in the third one I don’t see the studio axing their gruesome cash cow from the production schedule anytime soon. Personally I’ve been over and done with these since that idiotic second one, but if Lionsgate really is inclined to make sequel after sequel they could certainly do a heck of a lot worse (which they have) than this. Again, that’s not a recommendation, it’s my personal opinion; whether you take it or leave is entirely up to you.