Saw started as a small, smart, low budget horror movie, and has ballooned into a trashy, exploitative, gore fest. What was once promising has turned into a sequel machine more embarrassing than the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street sequels combined, and Saw V is the bottom of the barrel.
The story is so incredibly complex, winding through multiple movies, it’s hard to imagine the writers even keeping track of this. Saw V doesn’t even have a story by itself. The plot requires numerous flashbacks to previous movies to work, and unless you’re a devoted Saw follower, you will be lost at some point. The time frame used in V is all over the place, complicating matters further.
This makes V feel more like an episode of a TV series instead of a stand-alone movie. The sets looks decidedly low budget, and the pitifully dark offices that apparently everyone works in try to hide this. It doesn’t work. Dialogue is hilariously campy (“You’re a monster!” being a favorite), but hardly fits in with the graphic gore the series is known for.
Each of the traps has become more elaborate in its set up to kill the poor sucker attached to it. The series still succeeds in delivering the sheer visceral feel of bones crushing and flesh slicing. It’s as graphic as you could possibly imagine. It still relies on people not thinking to find obvious ways out of the traps, and while the stress is understandable, solutions are too obvious not to see them.
V finds yet another reason to insert characters, many of whom feel like repeats from Saw II, into the latest edition purely for body count purposes. Expectations are taking their toll on this series in terms of its plotting. It’s hard to see how it’s made it this far, let alone the disappointing, non-surprising ending that purely exists to set up a sequel to a movie that never needed to be made in the first place. This is a terrible movie on all counts.
With all of its incomprehensible lighting, filters, and effects, judging a Saw movie on its video quality is almost impossible. That said, this AVC-encoded disc reaches perfection on a few occasions. Detail is striking, and the black levels, for as overly dark as they can be, create a bold contrast. Color is strong throughout, but so much of the film looks softened or misty, it detracts from this transfer.
Short of seeing the movie in theaters, there’s no real way to tell where the problem is. As is stands, the effect is jarring when watching it at home, and there doesn’t seem to be any logic behind the effect in terms of the scenes in where it happens. The score reflects that.
LionsGate yet again delivers a DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix, something home theater fans should appreciate. Saw V’s contribution is definitely on the low end, with throbbing, deep bass. Explosions are meaty and room shaking. The extra surround speakers come in handy as well. The glass jar-breaking trap has a spectacular effect of shattered debris falling all around the viewer. Ambience is high. Particularly, notice the dogs and street level sounds during an outdoor kidnapping/fight. It’s handled incredibly well.
Extras kick off with two commentaries. The first comes from the director David Hackl (his first directorial effort), and assistant director Steve Webb. Commentary number two has a stack of producers including Mark Burg, Oren Koules, Peter Black, and Jason Constantine. These are followed up by the usual Saw extras, individual looks at each of the traps included in the film.
The first four are individual, while the final one looks at the five featured together in the film. The latter is the longest featurette at around 12 minutes. The best of the lot is the pendulum trap which was actually quite dangerous on set. Slicing the Cube is a short look at how the cube trap was edited, and how the concept was created (in the director’s home with his son if you were wondering). Some trailers and access to LionsGate’s useless MOLOG BD-Live enabled feature round off this short list of extras.