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‘Saw V’ 24/10/2008

‘Saw V’ is the best of the four sequels. The new director aids a smooth transition into the final couple of instalments and it’s a step above the previous few films in the franchise. I’d argue the ending was a little abrupt but when the credits rolled I was too surprised and pleased to kick up much of a fuss. It’s better than a late sequel in a horror franchise has any right to be and like the excellent ‘Nightmare on Elm Street 3’, recaptures some of the original magic that sequel after sequel usually dilutes.

Some of the games, especially the final ’10 pints’ circular saw trap have an intensity and invention missing from the last couple of movies. The characters involved in this area of the film are underdeveloped (why is Morris O’Brian from ‘24’ there?) but engaging and watchable. Costas Mandylor takes over the reigns of the series with ease and I’m pretty happy to have a Tobin Bell-free final episode.

3.5/5

‘Saw IV’ DVD 23/10/2008

Did we really need to see Jigsaw’s penis?

My thoughts within the opening thirty seconds of ‘Saw IV’ as our hero is laid out on a slab. This autopsy is the most violent scene in the series.

Until now I’ve enjoyed the ‘Saw’ films to varying degrees. Iffy editing aside, the first is an effective thriller with some strong, original ideas. It makes superb use of its tiny budget. The second and third I also enjoyed, albeit to lesser degrees. I admire the continuity of the franchise as much as the ingenuity of the traps, scenes from each new instalment weaving backwards and forwards through the series timeline retrospectively changing our perception and understanding of previously revealed events and motivations.

Many find the ‘one every Halloween’ setup a gimmick, I do not. I find a reassuring familiarity in the ability of Lionsgate to turn out a new film annually, regularly enough to allow for this retroactive continuity and twisted chronology that makes the series stand out from its contemporaries.

‘Saw IV’ is the first sequel/prequel/film in the franchise to disappoint me. Original writers departed, lead character deceased, it is the first to feel ‘tagged’ on to the previous three pictures. The casting and aging continuity remains flawless, but do we really need to learn more about Jigsaw’s past? Haven’t we learned enough of him? An attempt to crudely insert Tobin Bell into the film is made on every possible occasion, and poor overall execution, lazy plotting and weak twist (especially considering ‘Saw III’ left such possibilities for this edition) makes for an unsatisfying horror experience.

Maybe I’m a little unfair on ‘Saw IV’. To be honest, it’s less of a film and more of a bridging device between the first trilogy and the final two episodes of the (to be) six film franchise. There are some impressive scenes and it improved a *lot* on repeat viewing, but it just doesn’t cut it as a standalone film.

2.5/5

‘Eagle Eye’ 21/10/2008

As a concept ‘Eagle Eye’ is tight and exciting, as a movie it is utterly bereft of any connection with reality. Thanks to Shia LaBeouf, a well-struck tone and only a little fat on the plot, we can say who gives a fuck; it’s an action thriller for teenagers.

LaBeouf continues to be the most engaging actor in his age group and preposterous though his last few movies have been (flying fridges + pissing robots etc); he yet again rises above the material to be the ‘big draw’. He’s great. Completely likeable and completely worthy of his leading man status.

That creepy kid from ‘Mirrors’ showed up here again. Is he stalking me? Am I destined to have that kid pop up in every film I see this week?

With the exception of some dreadful car chases and an implausible twist, the original concept and good casting is strong enough to propel ‘Eagle Eye’ from start to end. It’s not perfect but it doesn’t need to be. I liked it a lot.

3.5/5

‘Mirrors’ 20/10/2008

‘I feel like I’m not the one looking into the mirrors, but they’re looking back at me.’

‘Mirrors’ amused me.

By the time Jack Bauer (and make no mistake, Sutherland is playing JB) started shooting bullets around and shouting at his own reflection I had just about had enough. Its half an hour too long for starters, completely extraneous scenes padding a ninety minute film out to almost two hours. It’s all fine and entertaining for Bauer to go and spend some time with a gang of expository rednecks, but the third act could (and should) have zipped along at twice the speed.

My feelings aren’t entirely negative though, and I’ll give credit where credit is due. The film looks great for its budget. Alexandre Aja shoots a damn fine looking movie and is able to squeeze some good scares out of the material. Some of the hallucinatory sequences are gruesome, originally conceived and unusually effective.

Sadly, the films downfall is that in adhering to predictable generic conventions (i.e.: clichés), it ends up treading a wholly unoriginal path. Sutherland’s back story has been seen a thousand times, the final ‘battle’ plays like something from one of those soul destroying Exorcist sequels and a scene with a psychiatrist explaining split personality disorder is right out of a bad episode of the X-Files. Jason Flemyng is completely wasted as Sutherland’s former colleague. Scenes of Kiefer and his family slapping green paint over all the reflective surfaces in sight had the crowd giggling like they were watching ‘Flightplan’ again.

Unintentional comedy it may be, but ‘Mirrors’ is pretty watchable. I wouldn’t strongly recommend it, but genre fans will almost certainly find at least something to like amongst the blood and Bauer.

2.5/5

Dave Camp on Film

I’ve decided to set up a blog to catalogue my brief opinions on each film I see on DVD, television, cinema release and any other medium. This is a big year for me, as I’ve just moved within shouting distance of a multiscreen cinema and thoroughly expect to see every major UK language release worthy of my time. Unlimited card in hand, I’m pretty fucking excited. I’ll try to keep on topic, but no apologies if I veer off onto other subjects from time to time.

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