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It's time to end the Saw franchise

Posted by Jason on November 3, 2017 at 5:30 AM

The latest iteration of the Saw Franchise – Jigsaw – is the seventh sequel of the original movie, Saw, which premiered all the way back in 2004. As an institutional part of the summer blockbuster series, the Saw franchise picked up enormous momentum and speed in the early 2000s, with loyal fans flocking to the theatres to watch the latest instalment of torturous game-playing, orchestrated by a demented man named John Kramer, who is better known as his moniker, Jigsaw. However, after more than a decade of misery, blood, mayhem, and games, it's finally time to admit it – the Saw franchise truly needs to end.


One of the best reasons to cut the cord on this franchise is its constant reuse of ideas. In the first couple of editions of the film, Jigsaw played excellent, unexpected, horrifying games with his participants – including a meat freezer scene, which leaves viewers feeling ice-cold in fear – but more recent editions of Saw use the same tired traps and devices, leaving the audience feeling a bit cheated. One of the reasons that Saw became an international success in the first place was its low-budget approach to the horror genre (a la The Blair Witch Project), which brought realism and genuine terror to the aesthetic, and eschewed the traditional overproduced feel of a horror or torture film. But as the budgets gradually creeped up in production, more money seemed to be spent on revamping previous ideas, but with slight variations in music, theme, and appearance.


One of the reasons the Saw franchise is seeing a decline in interest, and thus should look to end its run is the saturation of the horror genre. One of the most popular television shows now is The Walking Dead, in which a post-apocalyptic zombie invasion threatens the remaining human members of the population. While not torture porn specifically, the difference here is that some of the characters are active participants in the torture, rather than just, like in Saw, Jigsaw himself (as well as his trusty accomplice, the audience gaining pleasure from his game-playing). Also, while the horror genre has certainly not flagged – one need only to look at the success of Jordan Peele's recent Get Out – the low budget-y appeal of the Saw franchise does now look tired and hacky, almost like an attempt to recall the horror films of the 90s, that were still struggling to find a path after the Halloween and Chainsaw Massacre films finally found their resting places.

It is not just saturation on the big and small screen, too, that forces us to reevaluate the end of Saw; it is also the real world that makes us examine what horror -- and particularly torture horror -- really is all about. The overwhelming nature of social media, which saturates our technology, is filled to the brim with the horror of the world. From the war in Syria, to the neverending mess of ISIS in the Middle East, to the natural disasters that continue to plague both the First and Third worlds, the access and immediacy of horror forces filmmakers and their audiences to reimagine horror as a concept for entertainment. Small moments of horror -- rather than the gore and pain and brutality so common in the Saw franchise -- might be the future of the genre, once again forcing us to believe that it's time for Saw to hang up its spurs.


Ultimately, horror for the sake of horror, which is what Jigsaw truly feels like, will never have the same kind of compelling feel that that original film had. The revamped cast and context and game still remains true to the original vision of the film series, but the overdramatized effects and the focus on the origin story of John Kramer show that the production crew is out of ideas and struggling to keep the franchise afloat.


Ending the series will not ensure that it goes out with a whimper and not a bang -- for Saw reinvented the genre when horror was struggling to find its voice. Its legacy is sound, but the genre has shifted, and those still interested in horror are looking elsewhere for their terror.

Categories: Gaming and other topics, Movies and entertainment

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