Terror Tuesday: Minute By Minute - SAW V

Brian tackles every minute of the most reviled film in a very lowbrow series.

00:00 The “Hell” Lionsgate logo! Is Lionsgate the only studio that actually has a unique logo for its genre pictures? For their “normal” movies they have a sort of heavenly version. I wish the other studios would follow suit. Maybe like when Tri-Star does a horror movie they could use one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or something, instead of the Pegasus.

01:00 The credit for Hoffman/Burg/Koules. Producer Gregg Hoffman died right around Saw II, it’s cool that they continue to credit him.

02:00 A shot of Billy on a TV. According to IMDb trivia, Billy doesn’t appear in the “flesh” in this entry, only on videos or in flashbacks. I like that someone took the time to notice that.

03:00 A closeup of the trap’s gears.

04:00 The victim, Seth Baxter, struggling in the trap.

05:00 Shot of blood/sinew hitting a plastic sheet.

06:00 A black screen. Saw critics would probably consider this the best part of the movie.

07:00 Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) walking around one of Jigsaw’s many many abandoned factory/warehouse/basement areas.

08:00 Pretty much the same damn shot. Most of this movie is Strahm wandering around, if memory serves, so there will probably be a few of these.

09:00 Here we go - Strahm in the head trap! It would have been really ballsy to kill him off in the first ten minutes, a la Kerry in Saw III, but how he gets out is even cooler.

10:00 Water filling up in the tank.

11:00 A shot of Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) carrying Jeff’s daughter out of the warehouse, finally resolving her plotline from two movies ago. Also, was Hoffman already planned to be the series’ biggest villain when they named him after their departed friend? Weird way to honor the guy.

12:00 A shot of a newspaper - notice how the article is just gibberish about pilgrims and some school program (and has nothing to do with Jigsaw). I love this, you see it in movies all the time (including some of the other Saws), where they just put in a photo and a headline but use the least appropriate text in the world to accompany it. It’s like, if you’re going to take the time to make the prop when you know it’s going to be shown up close, in the FOURTH SEQUEL to a very fan-obsessed series, can’t you at least copy text about serial killers if you’re too lazy to write some of your own?

13:00 Jill’s lawyer putting a tape into a VCR. Jigsaw has enough dough to build giant traps and seemingly owns half of the city’s buildings, but he still won’t upgrade to DVD I guess.

14:00 Jigsaw talking on the tape. Jigsaw died in Saw III, which could have presented a problem for other series unless they wanted to go the supernatural route, but the series had already established a flashback motif, making his presence in the rest of the sequels not as obnoxious as say, Randy popping up in Scream 3. But they sort of ran out of ideas I guess, he actually appears very little in the final film, which was a bit of a bummer.

15:00 Jill looking at the box she just got, the contents of which we won’t really learn about until the next movie.

16:00 Hoffman getting an award for his police work. It’s ironic!

17:00 A closeup of a note given to Hoffman that says “I know who you are”. I’m actually blanking on this one, I think Saw 3D (VII) explains it? Only saw that one once.

18:00 A flashback to Saw IV, showing the seeming death of Agent Perez.

19:00 Hoffman staring at Strahm.

20:00 Strahm talking to Agent Erickson, played by Mark Rolston and an ever present bluetooth.

21:00 Hoffman walking around.

22:00 Hoffman setting up a diorama of the movie’s game. Wonder if Annie and Shirley helped him make it.

23:00 At long last, we meet the victims of the movie’s game, 23 minutes into the damn movie. Part of the problem with this one is that these people aren’t interesting or tied into the main mythos (nor are mentioned again), but perhaps if they actually spent a little more time with them they could have corrected the former issue.

24:00 The victims listening to the rules.

25:00 Closeup of the nail bomb.

26:00 Closeup of Carlo Rota, playing one of the five folks in the game and easily the most entertaining of the lot.

27:00 Someone reaching in for a key.

28:00 Closeup of the countdown clock.

29:00 Some cops in a lab, I guess? I have no memory of this scene.

30:00 Closeup of a monitor where Strahm has typed “Mark Hoffman”.

31:00 Strahm learning about Hoffman. See, this is the main problem with the movie - too much of it is spent watching Strahm learn things that we already know. In the other Saw films, we’re never ahead of the characters (they’re usually 1-2 steps ahead, if anything), so I’m not sure why they thought this would work as a compelling A story for the movie. We know Hoffman’s bad, and we know he’ll probably live on to the (then) already announced Saw VI. Why spend so much time on Strahm figuring out that he’s a bad guy?

32:00 Erickson and Strahm talking.

33:00 Strahm having a flashback to something he wasn’t present for. There’s a cool transition with the pendulum that I screen-shotted, doesn’t quite have the effect. But either way, I really missed Darren Bousman’s crazy (and all practical) transitions from the previous movies.

34:00 Shot of Baxter.

35:00 Back to the game, with Rota and the others trying to figure out next trap

36:00 Rota talking, giving a bit of exposition.

37:00 The four victims getting a new video.

38:00 Rota beating the shit out of the other guy in the group. I never quite got this scene - why beat him BEFORE he even found a key? Seems like you’d wait until the guy did the hard part - breaking glass and digging through sharp objects looking for a key - before turning on him.

39:00 Shot of Mallick (Greg Bryk) holding the video game-esque key that will open the door. Seriously, keys with shapes that need to match certain locks? What is this, Resident Evil?

40:00 Hoffman talking to Detective Fisk, who is one of the few characters in the series to appear in more than one movie but not become important and/or die. He was in Saw IV as well, but this is the last we see of him I think.

41:00 Shot of an empty elevator.

42:00 Hoffman pulling a gun on a random woman. I forget all about this.

43:00 Hoffman in a shotgun trap. So I guess we’re in the flashback of how he met Jigsaw.

44:00 Kramer showing Hoffman a mirror. “Look at yourself, Mandylor! You used to be a pretty boy!”

45:00 Hoffman drinking.

46:00 Hoffman arguing with Kramer about who deserves to die.

47:00 Kramer offering Hoffman a “chance”.

48:00 Kramer standing over Hoffman after freeing him. Weird seeing someone get out of a trap unscathed - this might actually be the only instance in the entire series, in fact. Amanda had a messed up jaw for a while, Gordon lost his foot, etc.

49:00 Strahm looking through files.

50:00 Erickson talking into his bluetooth.

51:00 Now Erickson’s looking through files. Must be contagious.

52:00 Close shot of barbed wire and other junk.

53:00 Some fat guy in a car. Don’t remember this stuff.

54:00 Fat guy fighting two Pig-masked guys. Seriously, I haven’t a clue who these folks are. Must be another Hoffman flashback.

55:00 Bald Kramer. Yup, flashback. Back around Saw IV (which took place simultaneously with III, a twist that a lot of folks found hard to grasp) I had the idea of copying all of the films to my computer and editing the entire story into chronological order, but after seeing this one I sort of lost the drive to do it; A. because it wasn’t very good and B. There were so many flashbacks and ret-cons, it would be incredibly difficult to place everything properly.

56:00 Strahm investigating.

57:00 Hoffman and Kramer talking about Tapp. Hey, all right! Tapp was the Danny Glover character from the original Saw, and I’m pretty sure this was the first sequel to give him more than a passing reference. Though he wasn’t completely written off - the two video games (which I believe are considered canon by Lionsgate) focus on Tapp and his son, respectively. I’ve played the first and thought it was pretty good for a movie game, haven’t played the sequel yet though I understand it’s more of the same.

58:00 Hoffman setting up part of the game from Saw II. This is a fun little ret-con, I think, and helps pay off a throwaway line from Saw III where they point out that Amanda couldn’t be lifting all of these bodies herself.

59:00 More setting up.

1:00:00 Kramer surveying the Saw II game.

1:01:00 Shot of Brit (Julie Benz) and her terrible hair. See? Thanks to minute by minuting this thing, I know it’s been 22 minutes since we last saw these folks, which is far too long. Basically they only cut to them when a timed trap is about to be set off.

1:02:00 Shot of Mallick.

1:03:00 When we touch! When we kiss!

1:04:00 Brit and Mallick carrying the unfortunately named Luba (Meagan Good) into a tub.

1:05:00 CU of one of Jigsaw’s mechanical locks. Did he buy these in bulk, or does he have Hoffman or someone go around after a game is finished and collect all of the devices he can reuse in future games? Seems wasteful to just use them the one time.

1:06:00 Jill talking to Erickson. We see Erickson has a wife in this shot, which makes his storyline a bit more of a bummer since he’s actually a pretty decent guy.

1:07:00 A dying Kramer (from III) talking to Hoffman. I like how this one ret-cons events from the entire series in between scenes of five people who don’t have a goddamn thing to do with anyone or anything (and neither Saw VI or VII worked them into the mythology either). Like, pretty much everyone from Saw II showed up again in flashbacks (i.e. the junkie guy was the one who caused Jill to miscarriage), but apart from a quick shot of Mallick in the “survivor’s meeting” in Saw VII, they’re just a bunch of dead ends.

1:08:00 Kramer sending Hoffman off to start another game (if memory serves I’m guessing this would be Riggs’ game from IV).

1:09:00 A shot of Strahm in the head trap from the beginning of the movie, so I’m guessing we’re in the middle of one of those rapid fire “let’s show a montage explaining how everything you thought you knew about this or that Saw event/movie is wrong” sequences. I know there’s 25 minutes or so left, but there’s usually two in each film.

1:10:00 Erickson playing with his bluetooth. Can’t remember the ins and outs of this caller ID/stolen cell phone part of Hoffman’s plan, but I DO remember that it’s not particularly involving.

1:11:00 Hoffman planting the cell phone. Granted I’m only looking at 95 out of 5700 seconds in the movie, but I’m pretty sure this is the least violent of the sequels, and certainly the least gory. Worst MxM yet in terms of great screenshots.

1:12:00 Mallick looking at the blood trap.

1:13:00 Hoffman exiting the police station.

1:14:00 Brit and Mallick realizing that no one had to die. To be fair, this is actually a pretty cool twist and ALMOST justifies the time we spent with these goons. BUT, had they actually figured it out early on, they’d be able to get through the entire game relatively unscathed (only the final test would have required a lasting injury), which doesn’t fit in with the other traps of the series - Jigsaw’s philosophy involves some degree of self mutilation in order to truly learn your lesson.

1:15:00 Brit looking at the trap. Guess they’re not in a rush? They’ve been in this room for a few minutes now and still haven’t even started.

1:16:00 Brit realizing what they have to do.

1:17:00 Mallick explaining what he did, which is sort of set up like a big reveal, but again, it means nothing to us. It’s also momentarily confusing, as he says that he burned up 8 people in a building they thought was abandoned, which for a second made me (and others I talked to) think he was referring to the 8 folks in Saw II.

1:18:00 Brit still putting pieces together. Will you assholes start the trap up, please?

1:19:00 Shot of Mallick with cool burn makeup on his arm.

1:20:00 The 985th shot from behind of a gun-toting Strahm.

1:21:00 Gah! This is by far the most cringe-inducing trap of the entire movie, I think - there’s something about slicing through the webbing of your fingers that really freaks me out.

1:22:00 Nope, I couldn’t do it.

1:23:00 Strahm, eyes widening as he realizes shit we learned over an hour ago.

1:24:00 Brit and Mallick pulling their arms out of the trap, having “beaten” it.

1:25:00 Hoffman, looking sort of puzzled by his own trap.

1:26:00 Strahm pushing Hoffman into the trap, which is a sort of glass coffin that he assumes will kill or at least trap him. However…

1:27:00 Brit explaining to Erickson what happened, and she seems to be dying. It’s possible; while Mallick shows up in the survivor meeting in VII, Brit does not, which suggests she either didn’t make it or was too busy being part of an Ordinary Family with Michael Chiklis. Either or.

1:28:00 Erickson finds the planted cell phone.

1:29:00 “Hello Zepp” time! Strahm learns that he’s about to die.

1:30:00 Strahm trying to stop the coffin from sinking into safety.

*1:31:00 Strahm showing us what would have happened if Artoo didn’t shut off the trash compactor in time.

1:32:00 Cast credits. The long dead folks from the other movies get credited even though they didn’t appear in any new footage.

1:33:00 The set painter credits! Yes!

1:34:00 Digital FX and music credits, including Charlie Clouser’s team. Whatever you may think about the movies, there’s no denying that the “Hello Zepp” motif is already one of the most recognizable cues in horror history, and it’s funny to hear it used in trailers (Valkyrie being one of the most prominent).

1:35:00 Legal credits and the title logo. Way to milk me for another minute, Lionsgate (the movie is 1:35:02).

So there it is, Saw V. The thing is, I really do dig these movies. As I mentioned way back in my 2nd ever Terror Tuesday column, the years of being burned by all of the other horror franchises (reboots, ignorance of continuity, etc) made me really appreciate the serial nature of these, and it was always fun seeing the new traps they came up with and trying to figure out the twist before it was revealed (something I only managed to do with the final film). And thus this one, while the weakest of the bunch, is still kind of fun for me. The insane amount of revelations and largely clever ret-cons are major parts of the overall Saw lore - you can’t just write it off like you can a bad sequel in another series (though if I WAS to edit all of the films into one giant sequence, I would probably just cut the game scenes out of this one since they serve no purpose in the overall story). Sort of like when Lost would churn out a bad episode in Season 2, but there would be a nice scene with Hurley and Libby that made it worth watching - there’s just enough here to make it worthwhile. At the time of its release, this one was frustrating because there was a lot of set up (Jill and the box, Erickson’s growing involvement, etc) that we’d have to wait a year to pay off, but now that they’re all out* and you can watch VI right after this one if you choose, it doesn’t seem as bad.

And it gets overshadowed by the numerous problems, so I should point out that this one is more like the original in that it’s not as violent or gory as the other sequels (folks tend to forget that the original had a very low body count and only like 3 traps), so I appreciate that they were trying to back away from the “torture porn” aspects. But as we learned with VI, there’s a way to tell a good story with a compelling protagonist - relative to Saw standards, mind you - and still deliver on the carnage.

*Hey Lionsgate - can we get a blu-ray boxed set with all the bells and whistles (and all existing versions of each film; Saw III has at least 3 different cuts floating around), now that the series is complete? I’m not a double-dipper for the most part but I’d snatch that up in a heartbeat.