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Saw V (2008)

 Directed by David Hackl Screenplay by Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan

Once again we find ourselves wrapped up within parallel storylines playing against the other. Because as informative as the fourth chapter was for the series, we’re able to slow things down a bit this time around. David Hackl was chosen to direct, having been the Production Designer for the past three film. Though wouldn’t return in any form for the next two installments, as we see the series begin to transition into a different game all together.

With the knowledge of Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) prevailing in the end, it would appear all loose ends had been tied. Although Agent Strahm (Scott Gordon-Patterson) soon finds an exit out of the tomb of which held John, Amanda, Jeff and his wife. Enduring a test worked around a beautifully edited sequence; hands free yet head trapped within a box that soon filled with water. Though able to survive by performing a tracheotomy with a pen, he suspects Hoffman to be behind the entire scenario. Who while receives a medal of honor for his work involved in the cases surrounding Jigsaw, is later confronted in Agent Perez’s hospital room as to how he could have made it out of the warehouse unscathed. Avoiding the question all together and going forth with the intention of testing Strahm with something he wouldn’t be able to see forth to its end.

Meanwhile, Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell) visits another representative of John’s who had been instructed to give her a box in the event of his death; contents remaining secret until the next installment. Later viewing Hoffman enter his quarters with a mock up of the next games details laying out what will soon occur. A group of five are held captive with the intent to work against what would ordinarily be their initial instinct. Brit (Julie Benz), Luba (Meagan Good), Charles (Carlo Rota), Mallick (Greg Bryk) and Ashley (Laura Gordon) all have one crime in common though work in vastly different fields. Assuming the tests will continue to eliminate one as they go through the different rooms, Brit and Mallick are able to make it to the last room, discovering the huge mistake they had made by their selfish ways.

Though told to take time off from his boss, Agent Dan Erickson (Mark Rolston), Strahm hopes to find evidence to put away Hoffman for good. Unaware that the Detective was also working around the clock to ensure the Agent seemed highly suspicious himself; further explaining his recent disappearance. Risking his very sanity by chasing Jigsaw’s ghost back to the Gideon warehouse to relive the moments happened (flashback, flashback, flashback!). While having opened with the expected trap, it’s not until later that we find out that too had been a flashback. Which would reference the involvement in the overall game as such was a false trap set up by the vengeful Detective. Meant for the malicious Seth Baxter (Joris Jarsky), the man who had killed his sister in cold blood, handed 25 years though only serving 5 for his crime. Yet I’m continually surprised at how the writers are able to connect so many of the small details otherwise unnoticed. They’re great at finding holes in their already well written scripts so as to further connect everything throughout the series. We as well are shown how John started gathering information on Hoffman, able to sedate him while affirming teaching the “correct” method to dish out the will of testing others. A ‘better way’ as we see the two had in fact been partners from the very beginning. Claiming that Amanda would fail him; planting the letter we see her react to in the third. Helping drag those seen in the second, inquiring as to why Amanda was being tested again; a way to push forward and assure they stick to the rules. Ultimately being the muscle for the most part until establishing his own techniques. As only a matter of time before everything would be left in his hands regardless.

The pace of the film is relativity slower than the previous ones which takes away only in that I found myself forgetting, often, that five other people were being tested. However Scott Gordon-Patterson is a fantastic Actor to watch and have been a fan since Gilmore Girls. But because the dynamic between him and Costas was so intriguing, it couldn’t help but take away from the fatal five. The most reactive and genuine of the bunch gets killed off in the first room anyway so it was all downhill from there. There were also fewer transitions used, however done so in a much slower approach. Shot more artistically and intently maneuvered through the script as opposed to simply being placed for aesthetic reasons. Since we can all agree that the fourth was reaching a bit of schizophrenic tendencies. Which was with them taking out a majority of the ones wanting to be used. We receive a bit more layering, covering the grounds for what some saw as too predictable in the end. While the case or not, at this point the Saw films had been about trying to top any previous “traps” and ensure they didn’t lose the audience with any outlandish claims thrown in, just cause. Something I thought the crew had been great at obtaining as they remained a close knit family through each next installment delivered.