This installment was directed by David Hackl, who was production designer on all of the other Saws, and it stars Costas Mandylor, reprising his role as Detective Hoffman, one of Jigsaw's henchman. Hoffman has set up more traps as Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) uncovers more and more of the past that Hoffman has with Jigsaw. Along with this is a side-game that Hoffman has made, involving five people in a series of traps.
Saw V looks almost exactly the same as the other installments, which is definitely a plus, as Hackl has kept everything pretty true to the original. The film builds off of Saw IV, and in general all of the other Saws, giving us many, many unneeded flashbacks to scenes from the other movies. In fact, Saw V acts as though everyone in the audience is an idiot, flashing back to prior scenes throughout the length of the movie instead of just one concluding sequence at the end; we're also treated to voiceovers from Agent Strahm as he figures out Hoffman's involvement in the Jigsaw killings, which is pretty much unnecessary as we see it happen along with hearing it. I didn't think that we needed some of the backstory, like when we see more of a scene that happened the original Saw.
While the film thinks the viewer is stupid, Hackl has made the characters just as inane. The characters never use good judgment on how to figure out the traps, and it seems the filmmakers are pretty misanthropic, since the characters are so quick to off one another that it seems like we're all just bloodthirsty maniacs. While the five people set about figuring out the traps, they never think about how to save everyone, and it was obvious to me from the very beginning that the traps were designed so that everyone could live. The surprise that comes at the end was, unlike the tagline, very foreseeable. It's true that the traps are incredibly intense, but what really helps is that the people are dumb and the traps ridiculous.
I think director Hackl felt like, since he was the "new guy," he had to outdo the other Saws and make it as bloody as he could. While that is a staple of the Saw series, it wasn't the only thing that mattered. I think what viewers could relate to was Jigsaw was a fair guy, and he gave everyone a chance. What mentally revolts the viewer in this film is that Hoffman is not doing the traps because he wants to help people, but because he wants to hurt. It's an interesting concept that people accept the fact that Jigsaw does not murder for the sake of murdering, and that the chance that people have to live through the ordeal makes it acceptable to watch the film. In Saw V, it seemed to me, when watching the movie, it made the movie all the more exploitative that Hoffman was doing the games for all the wrong reasons. Jigsaw was a likable character, while Hoffman is maniacal in tendencies.
In this case, I think that Saw V overdid the gore – in fact, I think that the film is (or at least, should be) too intense for most people to be able to watch. It's not the fact that film is frightening anymore because of what the traps are having people do. It's not really that frightening, just gross. I don't think that's what most people were looking for in this film – they like to push themselves to the limit, and I think Saw V crossed it; instead of creating that tension of whether the subject of the game will survive, Saw V turns it around, and instead has the viewer expecting that the person will die. I believe that this takes away what Saw wants to do – instead of showing people who have a chance, they have shown that everything in the world has been corrupted, and that is just too disheartening to the general public.
Overall, Saw V's "surprise" works into the whole storyline, although it is a bit convenient. I actually did see something like this coming, because it was the only place that it could go. It feels like Saw is now going back on itself, redoing its own ideas, conveniently creating another helper to Jigsaw. I really don't believe the series can go further, because for one, it is now too convoluted, and two, they have exhausted their ideas.
Honestly, I don't think that there will be a huge fanbase for this film. It's so disgusting that people were turning their heads in sickness. I for one was not afraid or grossed out by the movie (although it did induce cringes), but I was concerned that I was going to be thrown up on, if not for the two girls behind me who were moaning that they were so sick, then because of the guy beside me who refused to look and instead texted the whole time or the fact that my girlfriend was sick to her stomach. It is a harrowing, heart-pumping experience that, while entertaining to some, I think that people felt it went too far. In order for Saw to be most effective, I think it needed that line between sickening, twisted murder and the chance for human survival. Taken away, Saw V became gross out, mindless entertainment for the demented with no relevant undertones. Even the side-game felt pointless, just a way to make a new movie and have more disgusting scenes.
Saw V has lost touch with what the originals set out to do, instead creating gore for the sake of death, and deep inside, I hope the public realizes it, because it is scary to think that all people really want to, and like, watching this. I know that that is a little hypocritical, as I enjoyed the movie, but I know that this movie is so ridiculous that it could never happen, and I'm not one to enjoy death in real life. What is scary is that I cannot speak the same for everyone in the theater who watched it with me, especially the eight- to 12-year-old kids that were in there or the four-year-old that a mother brought along to enjoy the show. I'm afraid that some people won't know where to draw the line between reality and film.