I’m ready once again to approach the Halloween season knowing that aside from the random indie horror films and inevitable remakes, a movie will be waiting for me that provides gore, thrills, and unfiltered fun. With each Saw entry pushing the franchise boundaries further, they were becoming less like movies, and more like attractions. If you were a fan, a new Saw movie was like a yearly treat – but if you weren’t a fan, you certainly weren’t being tricked into seeing another special effects showcase of the deranged and disgusting. Saw wears its franchise personality on its sleeve – proudly.
While there was more to Wan’s Saw than visual thrills, anyone can admit the franchise had fallen into a repetitive cycle of elaborate kills and character resurrections – but is that necessarily a bad thing? As the franchise chugged on, both the writers and directors understood that no matter what nonsense plot was driving Jigsaw’s next attempt at societal purification, audiences were showing up because of the kills. What started with nothing but a saw or simple torture device had spiraled out of control into the use of human furnaces or chain-reaction traps involving crazy glue and a car. People wanted to see the next extravagant horror spectacle, and each Saw film rightfully upped the gore-tastic ante.
Sure, Saw‘s franchise is essentially just built on a profitable business model, but it’s one that also doesn’t challenge viewers, and embraces the mindless, crowd-pleasing fun that horror makes possible. Not every film should be a simple popcorn-popper, but considering the Halloween movie season, you could always count on a Saw sequel for blood, guts, death, and, yes – creativity. Saw fans know what they’re getting, never claim the franchise to be groundbreaking, and have an absolute blast watching what deadly inventions Jigsaw creates next. Saw became unfathomably good at wasting as little time as possible on necessary backstory information, boiling films down to their simplest form to leave room for as many fatalities as possible. Armed with a massive budget and some of the most twisted, vile minds around (writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton), Saw introduced a constant stream of blood-soaked chaos that you could always count on.
Need proof? Look at the state of Halloween horror films since – nothing but sequels, remakes and Paranormal Activity (a franchise that derailed itself after the original and could never fill Saw‘s shoes afterwards).
2011 was the first year without a Saw film, and all we got was the highly overrated Paranormal Activity 3 and a forgettable “re-imagining” of The Thing. 2012 wasn’t much better, delivering Jennifer Lawrence’s atrocious House At The End Of The Street (a late September release that trickled into October), a Paranormal Activity sequel that completely trashed the established franchise, the more than watchable September release Resident Evil: Retribution (can’t wait for the commenter who claims you can’t trust a horror fan who likes a Resident Evil movie), but the Halloween season also saw one of the year’s best horror flicks: Sinister. Alright, could be worse – right?
Now let’s join current times again and take a look at the dismal, disheartening October 2013 that was. Insidious Chapter 2 held strong into October much to my delight – but that was it. Carrie was passable, but could barely be called a horror movie, and without a Paranormal Activity movie to waste my time on, those were literally the only mainstream horror movies Hollywood even bothered with. A horror movie couldn’t even top the box office any week in October, the one time of the year when all of the world WANTS to be scared. You know what won the box office this Halloween? Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa – now that is fucking terrifying.
For the formulaic drivel some people make the Saw franchise out to be, each new director ensured we could always look forward to a borderline-nauseating sideshow of terror to get us in the holiday spirit. Trust me, I’m not saying any story Saw established just begs to be expanded upon, but I am saying I miss having that yearly safety blanket of devilish playfulness. In all honesty, Carrie‘s blandly underwhelming existence would have been entirely more palatable if I’d have had another Saw movie to satiate my hunger for something Halloween worthy.
Maybe I’m just jaded by the sad state of recent October Halloween releases, but sometimes we don’t realize what we have until it’s gone. Sorry to sound like a sappy lover after a horrible breakup, because I know it’s been three years and I should just move on, but now that Saw has once again re-entered my life thanks to Lionsgate teasing Saw 8, I can’t agree more with the decision. For all the bad press, negative reviews, and collections of haters out there, someone needs to help people understand why the return of this psychotic franchise is actually a good thing, and I’m the guy brave (stupid/crazy) enough to do it.
Saw movies aren’t the best horror movies in history, they don’t sport a groundbreaking (or at times coherent) story and they don’t launch the careers of everyone involved. Instead, they serve a purpose for horror fans. It was easy to ignore that purpose while they were around, but after saying goodbye three years ago, it’s become evident to me that we need this franchise back more than ever. Honestly, it doesn’t even have to be Saw, but no film has been able to understand that sometimes all we need is someone’s head exploding between two blocks of ice – with uninhibited entertainment in mind.
It’s simple – I miss my Halloween fun!