The Saw Franchise (The Bad Movies) Part 2 - SAW IV

Now that we've looked at the three best Saw films to date, we move onto Saw IV.


Saw 1, 2, & 3 were created by Leigh Whannell, James Wan, and, arguably, Darren Lynn Bousman

Whannell is the creative mastermind behind the franchise. He has, so far, written the first three films and has been in every film since as Adam Faulkner-Stanheight, the photographer that got locked in the bathroom in Saw (original). Wan was the director and a writer for Saw (original) and a writer for Saw 3. Bousman has directed 2, 3, and 4. Whannell and Wan have also been executive producers for all but Saw (original).

In Saw 4 Whannell and Wan have passed their franchise to Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, who wrote Saw 4, 5, and 6.

Before becoming the minds behind Jigsaw, Melton and Dunstan wrote the B-list studded horror/comedy, Feast and its sequels. They are also Project Greenlight season 3 alums.

(Project Greenlight is a film-making reality TV competition created by Academy Award winners Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.)

Feast, the brainchild of Melton and Dunstan, was the story about a western, middle of nowhere bar, that gets attacked by cannibalistic, face-raping monsters. It was, much like 1984's Gremlins, almost a spoof of the horror genre. The creatures and characters in this movie were stereotypical of horror films and the movie let the audience know this at length. They openly poked fun at horror movie cliches and played off of them. It was as much making fun of the genre as it was trying to be a good horror film. Feast was good, but it was in no way ground-breaking. Most of the time it felt like a comedy rather than a horror film. (Fun Fact: Jason Mewes is in this one for the first 15 minutes or so as himself.)

So how well do comedic horror writers perform when they try to write serious horror films?

When we last left our beloved Jigsaw, he was dead. John Kramer is getting an autopsy and we get more gorey surgery scenes. They take out his brain and open him up. They check his stomach and immediately call into homicide.

Our friend Detective Hoffman, who we met in the last movie, is given a tape that was inside Jigsaw's stomach. We saw Jigsaw cover this tape in wax at the end of Saw 3. In true psycho fashion Jigsaw lets Hoffman know that they're not done playing games.

Then we get out first trap, no tape, no goal, just two guys, one blind and the other mute, chained to a winch. The winch starts pulling both of them toward it. Mute guy kills blind guy in a paranoid and panicked battle and escapes to appreciate life.

We cut back to the Jigsaw compound. Hoffman is breaking in and doesn't get a very warm welcome. After a dead cop and a crime scene, Special Agent Strahm, new guy on the case, gives us a theory that John and Amanda aren't the only ones kidnapping people.

Lieutenant Rigg, is our new overzealous cop. His team mates are getting whacked and he just can't seem to relax until he's the big hero. Rig gets nabbed and we find out that his game is to save Eric Mathews, our police officer friend from Saw 2, who is surprisingly not dead and standing on a melting block of ice. As soon as the ice melts Mathews will be hung.

In order to save his fellow police officer, Rigg has to choose between saving the victims of Jigsaw's other traps and letting them die, like in Saw 3. The hard part comes in when Rigg finds out that all the victims are there because they are criminals. Jigsaw also has Rigg doing some of his dirty work and setting up some of his twisted games in order for Rigg to get to know John Kramer a little bit better. Along the way Rigg gets clues to where Mathews is being held.

The criminals of course are playing their own games and as Rigg tries to save Mathews, the special agents are tracking him as a suspected accomplice.

In the meantime Mathews is involved in not one, but two games. He has to stay on his block of ice or a guy sitting in a make-shift electric chair gets fried.

Our background information on John Kramer is being told through his ex-wife, Jill Tuck, who is being interrogated as part of the investigation, because her photos show up at a crime scene, and a series of flashbacks. In this story we find out Jigsaw's origin: Kramer meets Tuck. Tuck gets pregnant. Crazy drug addict kills baby. Tuck divorces Kramer. Kramer gets into a nearly fatal car crash. He has an existential epiphany. Kramer turns into Jigsaw.

There isn't much character development or even plot development in this movie. It moves too fast. You don't get a sense of who these characters are. All you get is that Rigg has some anger issues, the cops are cops, Kramer is kind of crazy, Jill is resentful and for whatever reason is connected to a whole lot of her ex-husband's crimes, Jigsaw is getting a bit more relentless, and Mathews is suicidal. The movie is all action and conflict. There's no sense of pacing. You aren't attached to the story anymore, because it doesn't let you. The only new information you get is that the franchise isn't done, even though our villain is and he's a little less rational.

It seems like they're pulling at strings to keep the story going, just so they can kill people with traps. Granted, that's half the fun of the movie, but you have to use some basic film making rules. You can't skip straight to the action without properly establishing the context, or even getting your audience in the mood to be freaked out. It's like the cinema equivalent to a quick fuck in a bathroom stall. There's no foreplay. It's just rough, awkward, uncomfortable, not for people under 17 stuff, and afterward you're not as satisfied as you wanted to be, because you were rushed, your neck hurts, and you're kind of queezy and regretful.

The Saw Franchise (The Bad Movies) Part 1 - SAW III

In order to try and psych myself up for the upcoming Saw 6, which I have to go see because I've seen all the others, I have decided that I am going to try to redeem what I consider to be the worst of the franchise, which all starts after Saw 2.

It's no real secret that I am a huge fan of the first two Saw movies. I saw the original Saw after it had already been released on DVD. I bought it because it was a movie that I hadn't seen before and the second one was coming out. I believe I bought it with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and and Interview With the Vampire, both of which are amazing movies in their own right.

I popped it into my laptop and watched it at around 2:00 AM, after hanging out with some friends. That movie rekindled my fascination with traditional horror films. Not only was it inventive and innovative, but the plot of the original movies were two of the best and while not always the best acted movies that I have ever seen.


For those of you, who might be reading this and aren't familiar with the plot of the first two Saw films, I will catch you up on the major plot points of the first two Saw movies, the better Saw movies:

Saw: The movie begins by introducing you to the two newest contestants in a series of suicidal games that have been created by a psychopathic genius, John Kramer, who is known by his alias Jigsaw. The "serial killer" has been linked to a series of gruesome homicides because of the crazy situations in which several "victims" have been found and through missing patches of skin that have been carved out of their bodies, shaped like jigsaw pieces. The background of the story is told through the perspective of an FBI investigation.

The two newest players are Adam Faulkner-Stanheight, a photographer, and Dr. Lawrence Gordon, surgeon. They both wake up to find themselves chained to a couple of bathroom fixtures by their ankles, with a dead and bleeding body. They soon find that the dead body is holding a tape recorder and a gun. After a brief freak out session the two soon find out that they have been chosen to play a game. The tape recorder reveals that Jigsaw has put them in this bathroom and the only way out is to play. The object of the game is simple: survive. "How do they do this?" you ask.

The door to the room is connected to a timer, when the timer is up, the door is locked, with no way to escape. Dr. Gordon has to kill Adam, free himself from the chain that binds him and leave, but he has to kill Adam or their both dead. Adam just has to get out. You find out that both of them have been chosen because they have misused their own lives, so in order to make them appreciate their existence a little more, Jigsaw has forced them to choose between life and death. The goal of all of Jigsaw's games isn't to kill anyone, but just to make them view life in a different way and to force them to make tough decisions.

You also find out about a few of the other games:

The most important of which is played by Amanda, a drug-addicted, suicidal, cutter has her mouth wired to what is described as a reverse bear trap. A body lies on the floor. She has to find the key in the stomach of the body, that will release the trap from her skull before a timer is up and rips her jaw and possibly her skull from her body. The catch is that the body isn't dead. He's still alive, just paralyzed. He feels everything Amanda does to him, but he can't say a word.

This last trap is important because our lovely Amanda makes a return visit in Saw 2:

Amanda finds herself in another trap created by Jigsaw. This time, she is with a group of other people who have all been trapped inside of a house. Also in this group is Daniel Mathews, son of Eric Mathews (no relation to the cast of Boy Meets World). Eric is our new detective antagonist. The main two from the first movie died. The other people in the group, including Amanda, were all arrested and put in prison my Detective Mathews.

The house is being pumped with a neuro-toxin that is slowly killing our new friends. The antidote is being held within various personalized traps throughout the house. The group has to obtain the antidotes without dying, survive each other, and escape before the timer runs out.

Detective Mathews is also playing a game and has to listen to Jigsaw in order to save his son.

At the end of the movie, we find out that Amanda is Jigsaw's apprentice.

This leads us to our feature presentation:

I will be starting this multi-part blog series with the third Saw movie (Saw III)

(I will also be posting these reviews as I watch them. I'm currently watching the unrated DVD of Saw 3)

The new plot starts right after the events of Saw 2. The gore isn't saved until later. I cringe, oh how these movies make me cringe.

We are soon introduced to the newest Jigsaw crime scene and our new lead detectives.

Our first new player, Troy, is heavily pierced in critical places all over his body, some are just surface piercings, some are underneath bone. The piercings are attached to bolted down chains. Troy has to rip out each piercing and escape before a timer sets off a nail bomb.

Our spooked detectives soon start their investigation. This time Jigsaw isn't fucking around and targets one of our detectives directly.

Our first new featured contestant, Lynn, is introduced. Lynn is married. The couple's relationship has gone south. They're both obviously depressed and getting a divorce. Lynn is a drug-addicted medical professional and she is letting her personal life affect her job. She soon gets nabbed by our villainous duo. This time the game has changed. Jigsaw has terminal brain cancer. Lynn's game is to keep Jigsaw alive, or she gets her head blown off. Jigsaw and Amanda play a fucked up version of good cop bad cop and Amanda explains that Lynn has to keep Jigsaw alive until another game player finishes his game.

Enter contestant number two: Vengeful Jeff is trapped inside a crate on a fork lift with a tape recorder. Jeff isn't taking the accidental death of his son, Dylan, by a drunk driver very well, so Jigsaw is offering Jeff some tough love.

In a flash back, Jeff pulls some Robert De Niro stuff (think Taxi Driver)

The movie begins to switch between Lynn and Jeff as they go through their games. Lynn has to continually deal with Jigsaw and Amanda. Jeff wanders through a compound and runs into a series of rooms that hold some of the people that are attached to the death of his son. Jeff has blamed each of these people for Dylan's "untimely demise." Jeff has to choose to save them at his own risk or he can save himself. In the mean time Jeff gets to talk to them and face the people that he has hated for the past three years of his life.

The first three traps that Jeff's deals with in this movie rely on slow, agonizing methods of killing their victims. This gives Jeff a chance to get to know them before they die, to feel sympathy for the people he hated.

The movie really emphasizes Jeff more than Lynn. Although Lynn gets some cringe-worthy surgery scenes, the sensational stuff is reserved for Jeff. I remember saying that the thing that freaked me out the most were the surgery scenes, probably because you could imagine them actually happening to you in a cleaner manner at an actual OR.

This is one of the last Saw movies that I felt gave really interesting backstory and insight into the franchise's characters. Jigsaw and Amanda aren't just the masterminds behind all of these elaborate schemes and traps. You really understand their motivations.

To be fair, this movie isn't that bad, it's just the precursor to the next two, obviously not as good, films. It really lets the audience see into the mind of Amanda and how much of a counter point she is to John. It really shows her connection to Jigsaw and what he's doing. This movie really lets the audience see how deep the two characters actually are.

This movie also explains how some of Jigsaw's actions were accomplished in the previous two films and fills in what John and Amanda were up to. It lets you see into Jigsaw's methods and how elaborate his plans actually are. You really get the full story behind the first three movies.

During this movie they were trying to remove John as an active character in the story, so he doesn't do much, but what he does in this movie and right before it sets up all of the other movies. If you check the new trailer for Saw 6, I think they hint at maybe bringing him back.

There's some fun cat and mouse play between Amanda and Lynn too. Amanda's really a freaking psycho.

The traps in this one are interesting to say the least. With the exception of a few in the beginning, they're mostly about putting other people before yourself, forgiveness, and realizing that everyone is a person, just like you, no matter how fucked. Even in the worst of the Saw films the traps are always good and well invented. The reverse bear trap makes a cameo. As always the set up for the traps, with the tape recorders and videos are awesomely suspenseful and showcase the horrible traps really well.

You know, after watching Saw III, I regret including this movie with the next two. It's actually really, really, really good! If you like good movies, amazing writing, one of the best villains of all time, horror, gore, or the Saw series at all, or if you just think Amanda, Shawnee Smith, is hot, you should definitely buy Saw 1, 2, & 3. I would go as far as to say that they're really like one, epic horror film. They're all tied together in this one movie and are three parts of the same initial story that set up the franchise. A+++.

Sick and Boring

I've had a stomach virus for the past three days, I've missed work for three days in a row and even though I hate my job at EBSCO Teleservices, I find myself wishing to be there. This is not because I like being there, or because I want to be with anyone that works there. I don't mind most of the people that work at EBSCO, but they aren't people that I would actively try to hang out with if I weren't forced to be with them for five hours, four days a week. I don't enjoy what I do there. I guess I just recognize the fact that stagnancy isn't good. We need variety in our lives or our brains will implode.

I asked my girlfriend if she thought I was boring. She said yes. The sad thing is that I knew what the answer was before she even said it. I know I'm boring. I have no life. I work, I sleep, I watch television, I love my girlfriend. Most days I do little more than sit on my ass. That's all I do. This doesn't mean that our relationship is bad, it's just that we see each other all the time. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and lately neither of us has been absent. She wants to punch me in the face half the time and I continuously feel like I'm clinging to her for entertainment, for her to give me some sort of hint that she needs something so I can get it for her. The rest of the time I feel like I'm just trying to stay out of the way so I'm not being annoying.

I feel it weighing on my personality. I don't have anything to talk about. I wanted to post blog entries for the past couple of days, but I couldn't think of anything interesting enough to talk about. I'm trying to find a new job, but I feel so defeated by the job market half the time, that sometimes I feel that it's not even worth bothering.

I need a recharge. I need someplace to go, a schedule, a purpose, an objective. Or at least I need friends that I can hang out with on a regular basis. I need positive motivation. SOMETHING MOTIVATE ME!! PLEASE!!!

The Informant

You might be asking yourselves, "Should I go see the new Matt Damon movie?" Just in case you are, I'm here to save you from wasting $8.00 on a ticket. With the exception of Mr. Damon, this is probably one of the worst movies of 2009.

I'll give you the synopsis that I found on IMDB:

Mark Whitacre has worked for lysine developing company ADM for many years and has even found his way into upper management. But nothing has prepared him for the job he is about to undertake - being a spy for the FBI. Unwillingly pressured into working as an informant against the illegal price-fixing activities of his company, Whitacre gradually adopts the idea that he's a true secret agent. But as his incessant lies keep piling up, his world begins crashing down around him.

The movie is based on a real story.

What the IMDB synopsis doesn't tell you is that Whitacre contacts the FBI, accusing the ADM of something that you don't care about, because they really don't spend much time setting up the movie or its characters or its setting.

The movie opens with a scene of Damon (Mark Whitacre) and his kid driving through a cornfield and explaining what lycine is and how its used. This in and of itself is fine. It lets the audience know what lycine is, so they're not confused when the characters that they don't know or care about start saying it a lot. The problem with this scene is that it does nothing else for the film. We don't really get a sense of who the hell Mark Whitacre is and we don't even see a corn field or the kid for the rest of the fucking movie.

Ok so Whitacre goes to the FBI and blabs on ADM and the FBI agents make him a secret agent. He records a couple corporate meetings and busts ADM, but not for the original thing, but for price fixing with other international lycine companies, because Whitacre lied about the original thing, but exposed the price fixing plot in the process.

Oh and BTW ADM is kind of in on the whole thing, but you don't really know in they are, but it's really important for Whitacre to get a lawyer that isn't paid for by ADM.

You soon find out that not only did our hero lie, but we find out that he was embezzling money from the company the entire time. The FBI is now investigating Whitacre and you find out the he's a crazy impulsive liar and he blames it on Bi-Polar disorder. WTF!!! So now you don't even like the main hero because you have no basis for what is and is not real in a movie that has no exposition to begin with. (for those of you that don't know what exposition means: FUCK THIS FILM)

Ultimately you walk out of the movie going ....... "Did you like it?" "Not Really, did you?" "Like it, I didn't even know what was going on half the time and when I wasn't confused about what was going on in the movie, the music and the fact that every orange and beige scene looked the same made me want to rip my fucking eyeballs out and stuff my straw through my ears."

This is an overly produced piece of crap that has misused talent. Here's just part of the cast list: Matt Damon (He's won fucking oscars and he's funny as fuck.), Tom Papa (Hilarious!), Scott Adsit (30 Rock), Joel McHale (The Soup and the new hilarious NBC comedy, Community. Snarky, a little bit of an asshole, all awesome.), Patton Oswalt (Comedian), Paul F. Tompkins (Comedian). This movie had the potential to be one of the best comedies ever, I mean even the director Steven Soderbergh was supposed to be good, but instead it's a big pile of shit.

Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 77% I say go see Love Happens instead, it came out today too.


I went to go see 9 today and paid homage to one of the gods in my movie making pantheon, Tim Burton.

"9" is the newest movie from superstar film maker, Tim Burton and director Shane Acker, director of "Wanted." The movie stars Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Martin Landau, Crispin Glover, and Christopher Plummer.

Here's the deal: 9 (Elijah Wood), a doll-like being is created by a scientist that sets up the movie by telling the audience that humanity is dead and that life must go on. (It's a feel good movie.) 9 meets 2, a mechanically inclined doll guy. 9 and 2 are soon attacked. 2 gets taken right off the bat and 9 barely escapes, wandering into 5, (John C. Reilly) and the rest of the numbered dolls along the way. The doll people are trying to survive after a war between humans and machines has wiped out humanity and seemingly almost everything else. The remnants of the machines and human technology is left. The doll people are scrounging what left over scraps they can to hide from the machines. 9 and the rest go on an adventure to find out where the machines came from and to save 2.

It's ok. All of the story elements are there, but I think that the movie lacks subtlety and there are some pacing issues. The acting is well done. John C. Reilly and Elijah Wood are very good in this movie. I was very pleasantly surprised to learn that Reilly was in this.

Burton's influence is heavily prevalent throughout the barely feature length film and seems to be cheapened by Shane Acker's direction. Let's just say that Acker has got to pull a diamond out of his ass to make up for the abortion of a film that was Wanted. It seems like Acker has all of the pieces, but doesn't know how to put them together.

The animation in this film carries the post-apocalyptic, war-beaten aesthetic throughout. Its retro-futuristic setting is really cool.

I give this one a B-, because of Acker and the short length. Go see it. It's still a Burton film. It's good.

First Post


My name is Adam, but you can call me Mr. Smith.

I just set up this account. I plan on putting in all the shiny colors and layout stuff tomorrow.

Right now it's 4:45AM Thursday, September 17, 2009. I'm listening to A Tribe Called Quest on Pandora radio and playing online poker at Full Tilt on a whim. I'll be more interesting after I get some sleep. So for now internet, just chill.

If you are someone who is actually reading this post, keep an eye on this blog, there should be something to break up your boredom soon.


Mr. Smith