Ad Astra (2019)

This was the perfect movie for me at this time, it’s just what I needed. The last film I watched was so bad it almost put me off the concept of film, and the concept of enjoying things. This film put me back on track. It’s glorious as fuck. It looks magnificent, there’s not even a single second where you don’t buy into everything you watch on screen. I was sold in the opening scene when a space station blew up and people plummeted to earth (horrific way to die when you think about it by the way) and the way it looked meant this scene which could just look like a standard action scene, instead looked as terrifying as it would be in real life. Really, think of how that scene would play out in most films; it would be loud, lots of screaming, but you won’t feel anything. You’d be very aware you’re watching a movie and that there is no suffering on screen. This is the opposite, you feel everything that happens.

It’s not just the visuals, the sound work is great too. Well not just the sound, the use of silence too. Far too many films are scared of silence or don’t utilise it properly. When it’s used effectively it’s one of the best tricks in a filmmakers arsenal. This is doubly so in two specific genres; horror and sci-fi. The sound of silence can really help drive home isolation and nothingness. We’re so used to some form of background noise that complete silence is incredibly unnerving to experience, in a good way.

Now onto the bad; I felt this movie was lacking emotional depth. There’s a moment at the end which is supposed to be a huge emotional moment but for whatever reason, it didn’t really hit home. I think it might be because the entire film was building towards something happening, and then it did happen it wasn’t executed very well and just seemed kind of bland. Also, the narration was unnecessary.

There were also a few moments where it dragged slightly. Not as much as you’d think though. It’s a long film, and A LOT of the film is just padding, but it kind of works as these are the moments where the film breaths and truly comes into its own. Some of the wasteful scenes do highlight another problem with this film; disposable side characters. Brad Pitt’s character is undoubtedly the main character, but that would be a weird film to watch for two hours, so the film brings in side characters for very brief moments. Sometimes they just tell him “your dad killed my parents” and then help him on his way, sometimes they worked with his dad years before they had an argument and stopped talking, and sometimes they want him to detonate a bomb on a planet to kill his dad. Either way, these characters all only appear for a few minutes and then are never referred to again. Also, it’s kind of weird how his entire character is his dad, even in terms of how other people relate to him. Look at all those characters I just described, they’re all focused around his dad, not him. As such he doesn’t really get chance to develop much of a character, I realise that could be the point to show how we live in the shadow of the sins of those that came before us, but the character spends most of the film on his own, it’s important he is well defined and this just about doesn’t manage it.

So in summary, see this, and see it a cinema, it’s what it deserves. This film is crying out for a big screen and immersive experience. And it’s great to see Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland again. Side note; Donald Sutherland would be a great voice for an animated movie.

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Let’s See You Do Better (Update #1)

So, last month I posted this. So since writing the opening scene, what have I done? To be honest, nowhere near as much as I feel I should have done. Still kind of finding the rhythm of what this story is. The main thing is I still need to plan out who the main characters are. I’ve got ideas for set pieces and general plot etc, but the characters will be what makes it work. So far I’ve got some ideas. One is Bruce and Carol. Carol is a middle-aged single mother who starred in some low budget horror movies in her youth. Bruce is her teenage son. This is what that leads to:

Nightmare Carol

I’m going to set up the abuse throughout the film. Decided on this because it’s not really something that’s seen that much in horror films, not in that way anyway. When we do see a parent sexually abusing a child it’s a father abusing his daughter, I wanted to showcase the horror of when the genders are flipped. I’m considering making Bruce one of the main characters, have him kind of bring Freddy back by striking a deal; he’ll scare his friends by telling them the stories of Freddy, leaving them more open to Freddy’s influence and danger. In return, Freddy will stop Bruce’s recurring nightmares. Essentially like a mafia protection racket. That scene, in particular, will be used to kick off the third act. Bruce being in a coma will also allow me to have an absolute mindfuck of a final act.

Now onto the second scene that I’ve done. This will be about halfway through. My plan is to set up two stories; a group of children being abducted and killed by Freddy when he was alive in the past (so essentially a slasher movie mixed with IT), and the same kids when they’re older being haunted by Freddy in their dreams. The two stories will run alongside each other, leading to this:

The Death Of Freddy

So yeah, I lie. It’s not actually them, it’s someone elses memory. I’m not going to lie, this is mainly because I was fed up with the number of horror films that have flashbacks of the main characters near death, I hate them as you know the characters are not going to die so the scenes have no tension. I’m going to set up the truth subtly, so characters we establish as having no siblings in the present, will have a brother/sister in the past, and characters who are allergic to certain things will be seen eating them in the past. The main focus of this section though; the death of human Freddy. My plan for this was to have it go from “yeah, get that bastard” to “this is kind of uncomfortable”. I think I can go slightly further with what happens to him, but not certain.

Brightburn (2019)

Okay, so every year I do end of year awards. These include the good (best actress, best film, etc), but also the bad (worst film, worst moment, etc). Usually these are decided near the end of the year once I’ve had distance from a lot of things, that way my response isn’t too immediate and I don’t put a meh film as one of the worst films of the year. It takes something truly special to get nominated for an award that soon after seeing it. For that to happen I have to be 100% certain it will deserve it. Why am I mentioning that now? Because this will get nominated, in fact it’s probably the frontrunner for one of the awards. So which one?

Best film?

I mean, it’s about what if Superman was evil, I love dark unique films and this fits it. But it’s not that. It’s way too pedestrian for that, and it never lives up to the potential that the concept promises. It feels way too restrained but I’m not sure what by.

Best actor for Jackson A. Dunn

He plays the title role as a young teen coming to terms with the fact he’s essentially God. A fascinating character that a lot of young actors would kill for. So is that where it wins? Nope, he is good, very good in fact, but not great.

Scariest Film

I mean, the idea of a Superman-like character being evil is a terrifying concept to think about. But it’s not that. A lot of the violent scenes come off more comical than scary. There’s a moment where he snaps a character’s hand, it’s the first piece of ultraviolence in the film, and it was met with laughter in the screening I was at.

Best Character

It has to be that, right? I’ve never been invested in Superman as a character as I’ve felt he’s too good and perfect. So a twist on that should enthral me, right? Nope, it makes so many allusions to Superman that it doesn’t feel like a real character in itself. It’s so in debt to its influences that it never stands out as an independent thing.

Best Moment

Close. This film needs chaos and violence, but 90% of it was in the trailer. Actually now I think about it, most of the film was in the trailer. Almost all of the major story beats, including the ending, were in the trailer. IIRC, two of the main characters final lines are in the trailer. That’s just weird. It does come close with the post-credits scene though. Setting up potential sequels and spin-offs which do excite me. Yeah this film kind of suffers the same problem as M.Night’s Glass Trilogy, where at the end of each of the three films (Unbreakable, Split, Glass) I wasn’t excited about what I just saw, but I was excited to see what happened next (not excited enough to go out of my way to see them, but meh). Same here, I want to see what happens next. This film seems very much like a prequel to a much better film, but there’s a chance that film (a kind of evil Justice League) might not happen. Which is a damn shame.

So, which award will this be nominated for? I’m ashamed to say:

Biggest Disappointment.

I really wanted to like this film. I bigged it up to people for months, so for it to be so boring is a huge disappointment. It felt too long despite only being 90 minutes. It had some interesting moments but overall it just felt like I was playing catch up to the trailer. This should have been great, yet it’s not even okay.

Us (2019)

Spoilers: this film isn’t as good as Get Out. That’s not damning it though, as VERY few films are as good as Get Out. I feel that film could weigh Jordan Peele down slightly, it has given everything he is involved with INCREDIBLY high expectations which it’s going to be hard for him to match.

That being said, this film is still spectacular. I don’t see it hitting pop culture quite as high as Get Out did, but it’s still probably one of the highlights of the year, and definitely the best horror film of the year so far.

Honestly, and as much as I hate to say this, the weakest part of this film is the script. It feels like it needed adjusting slightly. I mean, it is still good, but there are moments where it’s a bit too unsubtle, a bit too unfocused, taking too long to say certain things. It’s still great, it just needs slight tweaks. While the script isn’t as good as Get Out, this film is MUCH better directed, which considering how great a job he did on Get Out, really says something. EVERYTHING seems to have purpose visually. He’s great at making sure a sense of unease looms over the entire film, giving even innocuous scenes a sense of dread. You could watch normal scenes out of context, scenes of family just walking down the beach, and they’d be SOMETHING about it which would tell you it’s slightly off.

The performances are also SUPERB. Almost everyone in it has to play two roles, and they need to make them different enough to visually identify which character we are seeing. Lupita Nyong’o in particular really nails it. The way she makes her characters move effects how you see them as people, it’s truly great.

My favourite moment of this film? The wham moment (which is not to be confused with the scene from Keanu where they argue that George Michael was a gangster, that’s a Wham! moment) is one of the best I’ve seen. This moment has slight spoilers so if you don’t want this film spoiled, look away now, and I’ll tell you when you can look back.

Those fucking idiots. If they’re looking away then they won’t see when I tell them to look back, they’re going to be walking around forever looking slightly to the left, they’re going to walk into so many open sewers. Hah!

Wait, where was I? Oh right, the wham moment. For a lot of this film it’s played like the only clones (ok, they’re not clones, but if I call them “tethereds” that will make no sense unless you either see the film, or I explain it) that exist are the ones of the family. We then find out that they exist of another family, and they’re all similar; all sociopathic killers. We then see a news broadcast and find out it’s country-wide. This moment is SUPERB. We find out that what we have been watching has been happening all over the country, that there are millions of stories just like the one we’ve seen, and they’ve all ended brutally. That is what I will remember from this film, how I felt in that moment. Also, that moment had a piece of realisation of visual foreshadowing that made me say out loud “You magnificent bastard”. So that’s that, this film made me annoying.

Happy Death Day 2 U (2019)

First off, applause for that title. It’s the best/worst sequel title ever and I love it. Now, I LOVED the first movie. Yeah it wasn’t that scary, but it had a great plot and terrific performances, was truly one of the highlights of 2017. I heard initial reports that this one was a disappointment. Personally I liked it. I get why people wouldn’t though. It’s quite different from the first one, with a different emphasis which takes it away from the horror genre somewhat. It also wastes what would be a great plot in the opening 10 minutes where another character is trapped in the same day. Although part of me thinks that that plot wouldn’t have worked because it would have been incredibly similar to the first one. The moment where they find that character from another universe is in this one and trying to kill them definitely would have worked and it’s a shame they didn’t use it. I mean, the plot they used was incredibly good. She wakes up on the same day as the first one, but in an alternate universe where things are different. One of the major differences is that her mum is now alive. This sets up a brilliant sub-plot of whether she wants to stay in the new universe or go back to the one she knows.

I’m under no delusions that this is a great film. But it is a film I love already. Jessica Rothe  is damn amazing in this, and Phi Vu handles his increased duties incredibly well, stepping up from a one-note character to a fully-fleshed out supporting character. Quite a few minor characters from the first movie have increased roles this time. I mean, yeah it’s not the same as the first one, but it works great as a companion piece. They don’t feel too separated, they feel like they belong together naturally. Like this wasn’t a sequel, but was the second part of the first one. Crucially it didn’t need to do this. When you watched the first one it felt like a whole movie, you left it with questions, but not questions that distracted you from how much you liked the film. Your thoughts weren’t “but why did x happen?” it was “I liked that”. So this film wasn’t needed, but you’ll be very glad it exists.

Hasn’t been my longest review, or my best. This is a film that has to be seen to be believed. It’s really weird and worth your watch; even if only for Jessica Rothe’s performance. And the music. And the editing. Editing in movies are like drums in music, I tend to only notice them when they’re really bad (There’s a scene in Bohemian Rhapsody in particular that’s a mess) or really good (this). The montage editing is superb, flows brilliantly and has a great rhythm to it. The emotion this film manages to bring to the table should be commended too. Has genuine tear-causing moments. Which in a film THIS funny is something special. So yeah, go see it, especially if you loved the first one.

Escape Room (2019)

I love the premise of this. The idea that an escape room actually being a torture device that tests people’s wits and logical thinking? I love that! I did not love this film, mainly because they don’t seem to make to the most of the actual premise. It reminded me of Saw, and not in a good way. I insulted that series a lot, but when it was good, the storytelling was superb; when it was bad, it was just a mess. This is closer to the bad. It never gets quite as messy as the Saw movies, by which I mean in terms of how bad the storytelling of those films got, not by the gore. Although more mess in this film would improve it. It is lacking in gore. I’m not a fan of needless gore, but in a horror film, it’s kind of needed. You need some form of brutality to the physical pain to make the audience feel it. I don’t just mean “you need to see lots of blood,” but if you don’t see blood, you need to make up for it through either the performances or the sound design. Sound is an element which often goes underlooked in horror films. A lot of them know you have to use music but don’t really know how to use it effectively. Most of the time when they use music and sound it’s like this:

quiet

quiet

quiet

LOUD NOISES.

Seriously, that is at least 80% of horror films approach to sound, and it sucks. But yeah, back to the point I was making. This film could have maybe worked if it had excellent sound design, excellent performances, excellent ANYTHING really. But it’s all just so plain. Some of the rooms are pretty unique (there’s one in a bar which is a particular highlight), but that just brings me to another issue I had with it. There are multiple rooms. The point of an escape room (not the singular room, not rooms) is you’re locked into one room and there are things which don’t make sense until you see them in a new context later on. It’s about making the most of limited and confined spaces to create terror. Now THAT’S a horror movie. What this one does is constantly move from one room to another. The rooms don’t really seem to link together well in terms of spatial geography. (Seriously, I’d like to see the architectural blueprints of the building this film takes place in.) So, not only does it not really work, but it also wastes a potentially great idea. Seriously. Think about it: a horror film with multiple deaths in a closed room would be incredible because you’d have a constant reminder of the deaths. As it is, because of this, the way it changes from one room to the next, as soon as somebody dies their body disappears and is never seen again, effectively making it like a video game. If it was a singular room, then all the deaths would have a constant presence in the film, which would give you a lot more interesting shots to work with. It could be used to justify almost any stupid decision the characters make. All it would take is someone looking sadly at one of the bodies and it would justify anything as you know they’re full of fear and panic.

So, the actual rooms/puzzles themselves? They’re okay, and some are better than others. I feel this would have been better if it wasn’t done by one director. If each room had a different director, then everything would have felt truly unique. Honestly, I would have LOVED a different writer for every room, too- have them written sort of like a series, then one person comes in and makes the characters consistent between each room. Then they could have had different kinds of scares in every room. They could have one that seemed very supernatural, one that was essentially a slasher, etc. It would have made this stand out in a crowded genre. Some of the rooms are okay. As I’ve already mentioned, the bar scene stands out as a true highlight for the film in terms of aesthetic, set design (similar to aesthetic, but more how everything WORKS together, not so much how it looks), the tense nature, and the absolute GENIUS use of music. It also seemed to be the best use of lateral thinking and intelligence, much more so than in the rest of the film. (There’s a moment where a key is trapped in ice and they use their body heat to melt the ice. It’s a group which contains 4 guys, and none of them suggests pissing on the ice to melt it.) The puzzles themselves are okay, I guess. But it commits a cardinal sin for a movie dependent on people doing puzzles like this: a lot of the time the audience arrives at the conclusion WAY before the characters do. The best example of this is the second room where they have to guess a certain word. The clue is “You’ll go down in history” and there are reindeer heads mounted everywhere. It takes longer than you think it would for them to figure this out. There’s no sense of “oh! so THAT’S the answer! I never would have guessed that! That’s so smart! Colour me impressed!” It’s just “well, obviously that’s the answer.” The disappointment continues to the ending, where we find out that the reason they’re all here is that *surprise* rich people are betting on them. Sigh. I know, rich sociopaths are awful, but you know what else is awful? Formulaic endings which would have been considered bland in the ’90s. It’s a secretive group which builds a high-tech building and kills people whilst watching them from a set of cameras at all times. OF COURSE it’s rich people, and of course they’re doing it to gamble, and of course, the audience realises this about 20 minutes in.

I do feel the performances need to be pointed out though, they’re pretty good. Taylor Russell could lead a Netflix drama series easily, Logan Miller would be a great “main characters best friend” in a sitcom (or just take the roles which TJ Miller won’t get any more due to him being TJ Miller), and I want to see more of Nik Dodani. It’s also great to see Tyler Labine in more stuff, although it does make me want to watch Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil. In fact, I think I will do that, I loved that film.

So in summary, I wanted this film to be smarter and it kind of frustrates me that it’s not. I’m not mad, I’m disappointed.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)

I came into this film in an uneasy mood. The original goosebumps movie holds a warm place in my heart and is a film I genuinely enjoyed. I really didn’t want that to be tarnished by a sub-par sequel, as often happens (looking at you Die Hard). These fears were confirmed when I heard that Jack Black is barely any in it, and neither are any of the other characters from the first film. This had all the hallmarks of a terrible sequel, the reviews even said as much. Now I know a lot of the reviews for this are scathing but I liked it. It’s not a film I need to see again but for the time it was on, it was an easy movie to escape into and lose yourself.

I know a lot of the reviews are negative, but I did enjoy this. It was fun. It was a good way to pass the time. To me, a lot of the jokes worked (the IT joke in particular still makes me laugh), and the characters were well-rounded and performed actions which made sense. The script was actually really well done. It’s only 90 minutes long but almost every second counts. The pace is frantic, never letting go for a second, and is all the better for it.

The downsides? It could have been so much better. It’s not as good as the first one, not even close, but it could have been. The potential was there, they just do nothing with it. This is especially noticeable in regards to the cast; Ken Jeong is woefully underused, but when he is in he steals the scene. It is also incredibly similar to the first one in the way the characters have to deal with the menace. A lot of people have said that “it doesn’t continue the story from the first film, this means it awful”, I disagree. As far as I know, the Goosebumps books weren’t connected in terms of characters, so it’s more in the spirit of the films for them to do the same. Okay, this is ruined by the fact the first one was kind of a “greatest hits” of characters from the books, so it kind of screwed up that concept for this one, but my point still stands. To be honest I think it might have worked better as a shared universe where individual characters were built up in their own movies, before all being unleashed in a script similar to the one for the first movie. Ah well.

So yeah, I did enjoy it, I don’t need to see it again, but it was incredibly fun. I mean, I should discuss the ending though. It ends with Slappy the dummy trapping RL Stine in a book. It’s a shocking ending that comes completely out of left field and I really fucking hope that goes somewhere. If they just use that as an excuse to keep him out of future films, then it’s awful. If it sets up the next film, I’m in. If they don’t even mention it, fuck this film.

See-Saw Day Eight (Jigsaw)

Director: The Spierig Brothers

Budget: $10million

Box Office: $103million

  • And here we are. The final one. Described by the company as a “return to form” which is their way of admitting the last few were shit.
  • Open on a really weird shot of a police light taken through a rolled-up set of those spikes police put down to stop cars. Unique shot and I kind of dig it.
  • A guy has a bomb in his hand which will go off unless a detective Halloran is there.
  • Halloran turns up, the guy ends up getting shot in the stomach and kill shim, which starts off a new game. We know this because the character says “the game is starting”. Why are people who are dying in films so unhelpful and vague?
  • People wake up with buckets on their head chained to a wall. Chains pull them towards a spinning blade. The game here is; if they cut themselves on the blade, no matter how little, the blade will stop. They all do it except for one guy who is passed out, but I’m sure he’ll never be referenced again.
  • “i hope for our sake this is a game, because games can be won”. Tell that to Battletoads on the SNES.
  • A woman jogs under a bridge, turns around and realises there’s a body hanging from the bridge.
  • “Think it’s Kramer?” “hope not, he’s been dead for 10 years”. Two things: I know Jigsaws real name was John Kramer. But you can’t say Kramer and not expect me to think of this:

Kramers-Concern-seinfeld-23155294-500-376.png

  • Secondly: what’s the timeline for these movies? Because it’s been about 10 years since the film where Jigsaw died was released, but I thought all the other films happened pretty soon after that one?
  • Logan, the morgue guy knows the guy investigating it, who tells him “sorry about Christine”. So this guys wife is dead? That will definitely come back later.
  • Wait, Logan was attacked by the Taliban in Fallujah? That’s racist. Oh you need me to explain? Ok, here goes: Fallujah is in Iraq, the Taliban don’t operate there, they operate in Afghanistan. This would be like saying a gang from California are operating in South Dakota.
  • Well whoever the new Jigsaw is, he has finally upgraded to digital, leaving an SD card in the body this time.
  • The people with the chains round their neck all have to admit their sins. The chains have stopped being attached to the wall and are now attached to the ceiling. I wonder how this will end up.
  • This is aimed at a specific person, someone who stole a purse from someone who then died because the purse contained medication which led to the person dying. There’s three needles in the room, one has an antidote to poison, one has saline solution, and one has acid, one needs to be injected into her or they all die by strangulation from the chains rising up the ceiling. What would have happened if she died in the first room? This game would be unwinnable.
  • All three end up injected in her neck, so she dies from the acid, but at least she’s not poisoned.
  • Ryan, (for some reason I thought he was called Mitch, and Mitch was called Ryan) tried to go through a door labelled “no exit”. This ends badly and his feet go through the floor, ending up entangled in razor wire that starts tightening.
  • The other two (Mitch and Anna) go into a silo, the door locks, and grain starts filling the silo. This on its own I would like, it’s slow, methodical, but unique. But then it kind of ruins it by dropping blades down into them as well. Yes, that’s more gruesome, but it’s not unique to me. For them to escape, Ryan has to pull a handle, severing his own leg.
  • The woman doing the autopsies (Eleanor) turns out to be a massive fan of Jigsaw. I thought this would go somewhere but nah.
  • Now we find out why Mitch is there, he sold someone a motorbike with faulty brakes which led to them dying. The tape there is specifically for him, so again I have to ask; what would have happened if he died in the first room? Or in the silo? This film only works because the characters act in the way they need to for the script to develop. If any of the characters do anything else other than what the script tells them to, this plan would fall apart. I mean, what if Mitch got his leg chopped off and died?
  • The kid who died on the bike; Jigsaws nephew. He ends up being lowered into a thing I can’t really describe; it’s like a spiral blade that gets thinner towards the end. He needs to reach through the middle of it as it’s spinning and stop the brake.
  • “Stop it, I don’t wanna die” I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.
  • He dies. But Bohemian Rhapsody is a great song.
  • Okay now Eleanor being a fan is making sense. The cops are suspecting her and Logan are murdering people.
  • Logan said that Halloran is framing him. He proves this by taking the bullet out of the guy who got shot earlier, saying the bullet is one that only Halloran uses. To me, this means it’s definitely not Halloran. As this film series doesn’t plant clues like that, it doesn’t like doing things which are simple. It likes the twist ending which means you can’t trust anything you see, which means you have a real trust issue as you assume no “clues” are actually worthwhile. That’s the issue with these, they try so hard to be intricate and clever they end up being kind of stupid.
  • Jigsaw unveils himself (not like that) in front of Anna. Thereby proving that this film (or at least the main test section) takes place in the past, because we know he’s DEFINITELY dead and a twin brother hasn’t even been hinted at.
  • More proof “what are you doing John?”, Anna says, not “Holy fuck it’s a zombie”.
  • We now find out why Ryan is being tested. He was being a drunken dickhead, which caused his friends car to crash, killing three people.
  • Anna saying “I didn’t do anything, you know me” which is a stupid thing to say. She knows what she did, so the fact he knows her means he knows what she did. It turns out Anna’s husband didn’t suffocate their baby by rolling onto it. Instead she suffocated it with a pillow to stop it crying. He got arrested, went mad, and committed suicide.
  • The final trap; a shotgun which John describes as their “key to freedom”. Anna grabs it and tries to shoot Ryan, but it fires backwards and kills her. And turns out Jigsaw meant it literally, there were keys to their chains in the gun, which are now ruined due to the gunshot.
  • Halloran and Logan have woken up with laser cutters around their necks, buttons on the desk in front of them start up the lasers and they have to confess. Halloran presses the one on Logans side, setting Logan’s trap off, because he’s a dick. Logan confesses he was the one who messed up Jigsaws diagnosis which mean his cancer wasn’t diagnosed in time. Logan “dies”. Halloran now, he admits he’s locked innocent people away and taken bribes so guilty people stay safe. Halloran notices the roof above him was destroyed by lasers, but the one above Logan wasn’t. Surprise surprise Logan rises and turns out to have been faking it. Who isn’t surprised?
  • Turns out Logan was the first guy, the one who passed out in the first room. The barn game took place 10 years ago. Halloran is responsible for Logan’s wife dying. He put people in identical tests this year to recreate the one from 10 years ago (and we didn’t see this one, because why would we want to see new things when we can see old things?)
  • This “explaining the film we just saw” (hah, “saw”) thing has taken far far too long, and still doesn’t explain some characters motives.
  • Wait, that’s it? Okay that’s odd. It has made zero references to the previous films really. On the plus side that means it stands alone. On the downside it means you’re kind of punished for watching the previous ones as it was a waste of time as none of it meant anything. Dr. Gordon isn’t mentioned despite being a very important character apparently. None of the cops come back. This film series has a toxic relationship with continuity. It’s either burying it underground or fucking it.

See-Saw Day Six (Saw VI)

Director: Kevin Greutert

Budget: $11million

Box Office: $68million

  • The sixth film in the series. Let’s see what new things this brings to the table.
  • Two people have woken up in a strange room with no idea how they got there. How new, fresh, inspired and never been done before in this series.
  • They’re money lenders, well, loan sharks to be more precise. They lend money then ask for extortionate amounts back. Kind of like Wonga did. Actually I doubt they’re worse than Wonga. That company was literally evil. They would quickly lend you money, but at an almost 6,000% yearly interest rate. Then when people couldn’t pay them back (which considering the nature of their business and their advertising being aimed at people who are out of work or in severe financial hardships, was pretty likely) they would phone them and say that them being in debt could lead to them being fired from their job. They would then send letters from fake law firms to them demanding payment. The (I repeat) FAKE law firm charges were then added onto the debt, increasing it even more. The company executives then would store their profits offshore so they didn’t have to pay tax. So, that company can go fuck themselves with a cactus wrapped in barbed wire. Anyway, back to the film. These two are now in competition; whichever one can cut the most flesh off themselves (in terms of weight, not size etc) gets to live. I have criticised this series a lot, but I do like this trap, mainly because of the poetic nature of it. They’re literally asked to pay their pound of flesh.
  • The fat guy shows his advantage by slicing his fat off his stomach, which considering the other person is a skinny woman, seems like cheating somewhat.
  • She realises this and chops her arm off, she wins, let’s celebrate, come on, give her a hand. Oops, this is awkward.
  • Was there any way to check they weren’t cheating by like throwing their shoe onto the scales instead?
  • We see the end of the last movie. Surprisingly Strahm DIDN’T survive being crushed into a small cube. I know, shocking right?
  • A guy in an office can’t make dinner. And the look the woman sitting opposite him gives definitely makes me think they’re fucking, and on the (presumably) wifes birthday.
  • Oh, it’s possible he’s just a dickhead. He runs a health insurance company which denied healthcare to someone with cancer, because AMERICA! The only country where you’ll get shot at a school, then bankrupted when they take the bullet out.
  • I realise that last comment might seem insensitive considering there was a school shooting today in America. To that I respond with this; if I waited to publish then on a day with no school shootings I might never get a chance. At the moment it seems the most likely way the American government will stop school shootings is by destroying all schools so they don’t have to pay for education.
  • Wow, there’s a group of people in this, their entire job is to find reasons to deny people health coverage. Imagine that being your job. You get money by ensuring sick people don’t get the treatment they need. You couldn’t pay me to do that job.
  • Hoffman is at the crime scene of the dead fat guy.
  • Oh it turns out Perez didn’t die. You know Perez, she was in it very briefly 2 movies ago and didn’t really do much.
  • Hoffman meets the one-armed girl and seems annoyed she doesn’t seem to have learned anything. She doesn’t even give him applause.
  • More Jigsaw. Because despite being dead for a long time, he’s still the most compelling character, and the writers know this.
  • The dickhole character from earlier (William) is walking around his office late at night where he shoots a suspicious character who turns out to be a security guard. He is so fucked, he will lose his job, possibly get executed and his name will be spat on for generations. There’s no coming back from this.
  • Oh wait, the security guard was black. At most he’ll get a $10 dollar fine.
  • You know what the best/worst part about that joke is? It will probably always be topical.
  • He gets kidnapped and wakes up to a Jigsaw tape (how many of these did he make?)
  • He’s locked up with the janitor from his work. Every time one of them breaths, a vice tightens around their chest. The janitor is a smoker so this is deeply unfair to him. Jigsaw openly admits he is punishing that guy because he smokes. That……..does not seem fair. That’s not equal to causing people to die. Like, at all.
  • Flashback to William meeting Jigsaw and openly admitting he developed a formula for deciding who to give healthcare coverage to so he could only give it to people who aren’t likely to need it. Because again….America.
  • The next test he has to kill one of his colleagues. This is kind of weird way to test him, by killing an innocent person. I mean, it is a kind of cool way of showing the choices he is actually making day to day with his business. But it’s punishing people who had nothing to do with it. His colleagues didn’t do anything to deserve this, they’re being killed to punish someone else.
  • We now see Hoffman putting the guy on the rack from the (I think) 4th movie. The fact I don’t know says a lot. These films have no individual identity. They all run together into one mess.
  • Oh wait, Amanda is still alive, it’s the 3rd movie this is from. So to summarise, now we have a scene featuring Jigsaw, Amanda, a guy whose name I can’t remember, and Hoffman, planning a trap for Jeff. So we have a scene with 5 people involved, only one of whom is still alive. How does this advance the narrative in any way? Seriously, at times it feels like these films are mainly comprised of deleted scenes from earlier films.
  • “Did you know that in the far east people pay their doctors when they’re healthy, and don’t pay when they’re ill?” That’s…….actually kind of a better system.
  • There’s the team from earlier; the ones whose job it was to deny sick people healthcare. They’re tied to a merry-go-round and one of them will be randomly killed until all of them are dead, and to “deselect” someone from being shot he has to put a spike through his own hand when the gun is aimed at them.
  • The cops (including perez) work out that Hoffman is actually the killer, so he kills her and the other two people in the room. He then burns the room down, because he really wants to be caught.
  • We find out that it was Hoffman who put the letter that freaked out Amanda at the end of the third movie. It turns out he knew that she was also responsible for Jigsaws wife miscarrying, and unless she killed Lynn then Hoffman would tell him. I’m so glad we have closure on that plot point from THREE MOVIES AGO.
  • William makes it to the last room. Where he’s met with the two people have who have been locked in the cage (Yeah i should have mentioned them earlier, a mother and her teenage child. They haven’t really done anything relevant yet so haven’t mentioned them). Turns out they’re the family of the guy who William denied health coverage to. They have a choice whether to forgive him, or inject him with acid. They chose the second option. Meaning we have lots of flashbacks of things we’ve already seen in the film which help explain the ending for those who are stupid to understand why it’s happened.
  • Oh, Hoffman has been put in a bear trap face-hugging device by Jigsaws wife. He escapes by breaking his own hands to escape being tied down, then jamming the trap in between two REALLY conveniently placed bars in the door. But he still has half his cheek torn out.
  • And that’s how this ends. Again, with not really any closure. If he died, that would be closure. If he got caught by police….closure. This all just feels like another chapter rather than a separate story. It’s admirable how they link together but none of them past the first one stand on their own merits.

See-Saw (Day Four: Saw IV)

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Budget: $10million

Box Office: $139.3million

  • Fine. Let’s do this.
  • We open with an overly-long autopsy of Jigsaw. I’m going to give this film the benefit of the doubt and say this was done so we know for certain Jigsaw is dead so the audience doesn’t expect him to come back to life. No excuse for it to be quite this long though. And in quite so much detail. It’s odd, they’re playing it like it’s a scene from a horror movie. They’ve got the spooky scary music, dark lighting, and intense close-ups of body parts. But it’s not meant to be scary, it can’t be. How can it be?
  • We get the in-story reason for this now. They find a tape in his stomach. The one that he was shown to have covered in wax in the last one and eaten. They show that scene again in case you couldn’t remember it. This series has a weird approach to how it treats the audience’s memory. It replays A LOT of stuff from previous films, but also has so much where if you weren’t taking notes in previous films you wouldn’t remember who certain people were or why they matter.
  • I’m not lying about this being overly long by the way, it was five minutes long.Five minutes of someone just being cut open.
  • The tape is played, is pretty much what you expect. “my work will go on” etc.
  • Two people wake up in a room, one with his eyes gouged out, one with his mouth sewn shut. They’re chained to a machine that is gradually pulling them closer to a machine that will kill them. Who are these people? Does it even actually matter this point? Does anybody care?
  • Fight scene, and I have to say this isn’t really a fair fight, the guy with his mouth sewn shut is at zero disadvantage, you don’t need your mouth to fight really, whereas the guy with his eyes gouged out is fucked, not literally.
  • The guy with mouth sewn shut wins the fight and gets the key from the back of the other persons head. Because of course he wins. Don’t worry, you won’t see the guy from this scene again for like an hour, by that point you’d have forgotten who he was.
  • The police find Kerry from the last movie. Again, not much reason for this to be in this movie and not the last one. I actually want to see what this series would be like if it was edited into one long chronological story.
  • The police assume Jigsaw has a new accomplice.
  • There’s a book about Jigsaw, titled “John Krama aka Jigsaw. Is he the murderer the police say he his”. That’s not a typo on my end by the way, it genuinely says “he his”. Also, why would lead with his real name, then the fake? Also also, that book got published really damn quickly.
  • Daniel Rigg (who I think has been in previous Saw movies) seems to be the lead of this one. A cop who feels guilty for not being able to save people, particularly Eric Matthews (donnie whalberg from the 2nd one, who is still listed as missing). This film series has to be commended for that though; it’s done the film series equivalent of promoting from within. Most of the main characters for each film have been introduced in previous ones. It’s a great way of doing things and shows forward planning, rewards loyalty, and makes it feel less like a film and more like an actual world that exists.
  • He’s kidnapped, as a lot of people are in these films. Yeah, he’s definitely the lead. As condescending as this sounds it’s great to see a black lead in a horror movie. Especially one where his being black isn’t his main character trait. He’s not the black lead from Saw, he’s just the lead from Saw.
  • Oh, Donnie wahlberg is still alive it turns out. Barely, he’s being kept alive as the test for Daniel, who has 90 minutes to save both him and Detective Hoffman (who was in, erm, the 3rd one I think, I don’t know at this point).
  • His first test: he finds a woman in a pig mask tied to a chair, her hair tied to a machine that slowly pulls her head back. The tape tells him to let her die as it’s not his job to save her. From what I can tell her crime was being a prostitute. That does not seem worthy of death and torture. Or she might have been a pimp. Yeah that’s pretty bad.
  • He can’t find a knife to cut her hair loose so decides to deal with the problem in the most American way possible; he shoots the machine.
  • He gets the combination and saves her, but not before she gets nearly scalped and looses a lot of blood. What would have happened if her hair was fake and mainly made of extensions?
  • She grabs a knife and tries to stab him. In her defence, he was a black man with a gun, in his own house. The police have shot people for similar reason.
  • Oh that’s how she knew where to get the knife from, her tape said she had to kill him as he was going to arrest her for prostitution, so the only way for her to escape jail was to kill a cop. Obviously.
  • Wait, for him to have listened to that tape, she would have had to rewind it after listening to it?
  • Back to Donnie, who is chained to a ceiling suspended above an ice block. We flash back to the third one where he was knocked out by Amanda, because otherwise how else would we remember who he is? And we’re shown him being kept alive through tiny portions of food and an awful disgusting room. If he was on benefits the British government would describe that as “luxury”
  • Daniel goes to a disgusting motel run by an overweight guy in a white vest who owns a dog. He’s almost definitely a pervert/rapist/paedophile.
  • When he gets to the room there’s the picture of the motel owner and instructions to go to his room and do something whilst disguised with a pig mask. He’s still wearing the exact same clothes though and didn’t get the mask until he was in the motel room. So if there’s cameras all over the place as the tape said, then that would be noticed.
  • Yup he’s a rapist. We’re shown video evidence, he recorded it. I mean, I don’t care what happens to this guy, he’s a serial rapist who tried to deny it until the final moment.
  • He’s made to climb into a bed and tie himself up. Then gouge his own eyes out. He succeeds until the final part, and his limbs get torn away. Ah well.
  • Flashback to the time Daniel beat up a guy for abusing his wife and kids. Most the victims are kind of assholes so there is a cathartic quality to the deaths.
  • More flashbacks, this time to when Jigsaw was alive and his wife (oh yeah, she’s been in this movie, but her scenes have been really dull) worked at a health clinic and got robbed by a drug addict who caused her to miscarriage, causing him to become Jigsaw. Nice touch, kind of unnecessary.
  • Daniel now goes to a school where he finds the guy abused his wife and kids. They were being held together with spikes running through both them. To survive she has to pull the spikes out, she’ll live but he will die. This is weird as it’s a test for her. She seems to be being punished for being abused. We don’t need Jigsaw punishing women for being in abusive relationships, the police and courts already do this. He decides to let her save herself by giving her the key and setting off the fire alarm so that people are alerted. I don’t get what Daniel’s lesson in that was.
  • Crime scene technician there seems to be the worst ever and accidentally sets off a harpoon that kills another person at the scene. That’s not Jigsaw that did that, that’s not applying health and safety rules.
  • The cops (one of who i’ve already forgot her name) go into a room where the puppet is. They play the tape round it’s neck, obviously (seriously, why do none of the people in these movies remove the tape from the room and play it somewhere safe where more people can help solve it). The puppet explodes in her face giving her a shrapnel facial. I really wish the make-up team did a better job here, she looks fine just with stuff in her face. It’s not particularly devastating to see.
  • Just realised Donnie and Hoffman trap is being overseen by the guy who had his mouth sewn shut at the start. I haven’t mentioned that much but only because there’s not much happening there. I think Hoffman can die but not sure how. This film has WAY too much going on yet also somehow manages to have nothing happen for a lot of it.
  • Flashback to what was possibly Jigsaws first test. He kidnapped the guy who killed his unborn child and nailed him to a chair.
  • Jigsaw puts a torture device on his head, a series of knives where the drug guy has to push his head into them to unlock it. Jigsaw refers to it as a “tool”, which sounds silly, but that’s how Americans refer to guns.
  • The trap doesn’t work, mainly because the chair breaks. The guy decides that whilst he’s been heavily mutilated and lost a lot of blood, it would be a good idea to attempt to kill the guy who put him there. Jigsaw just moves out the way, causing the guy to fall into barbed wire.
  • Daniel, and another cop (Peter Strahm) end up in the same building the third one took place in. We get more flashbacks to that movie.
  • Wait, this isn’t a flashback, the entire film is. It’s taking place alongside the third one. Clever idea, but not cleverly done enough.
  • Daniel bursts through the door before he should, despite them not being any real warnings against this this is seen as a cardinal sin, it releases ice blocks which finally kill Donnie. He does this after shooting the mouth-sew guy. He shoots him again as he was reaching for his own tape recorder. Weird, a black cop shooting a white guy for reaching for something innocent. That never happens the other way around.
  • The tape tells him that “your impatience killed Donnie, if you did nothing he would have been saved. You failed”. That just seems unfair as he didn’t know what he was supposed to do. He was penalised for rules which weren’t really stated. I mean, he was told “don’t rush through a door, ever!” but that was by a cop, a long long time ago as part of a different moment.
  • And now we find that Hoffman is the real accomplice. Oh no, not Hoffman, he was so……he existed.
  • Hoffman locks Strahm in a room and I’ve gone past caring tbh. I don’t care about any of these people. There are too many twists and character turns that make zero sense and add nothing. It’s like watching late 90’s wrestling, just without the actors later killing their wife and child due to brain damage.
  • Oh, that’s the end? So to sum up the ending; one cop is locked in a room, one has been shot, one has had something blow up in their face but is still alive, one has become evil. Does that sound like the end of a movie? Or the end of a second act? NONE of these films stand on their own. I can only imagine how fucking pissed I’d have been if I saw these at cinema, having to wait a year to find out if a character died, but not really caring either way.
  • Wait, I forgot to say. Jeff died too.

Okay this film makes many many mistakes. The big one is it focuses too much on Jigsaw and his teachings. He’s an interesting character but he’s now dead and his disciples are ignoring his teachings, so as a character he is completely irrelevant to the narrative going forward. Yes, it improves the narrative of the previous movies. But Saw IV is not Saw II (despite containing a lot of the same fucking scenes), Saw IV is Saw IV, and as such it needs to focus on the characters in THIS movie instead of developing ones we know have no future development. It’s a huge logical storytelling flaw.