It was just around noon as I sat down with a buddy at the local cinema to catch the first showing of the day for Saw‘s 10th anniversary re-release. I noticed the awesome (see above) re-release poster as I was walking into the building and something about seeing the tagline “If it’s Halloween it must be Saw“, really got me excited. I can’t explain it, but I just love the series, warts and all.
Saw wasn’t exactly the most perfect horror series to hit the market. Heck, it really did get worse as it went, with the fifth entry being the series’ worst installment without a doubt and the later sequels in general being a step away from the “quality” that was first brought onto the screen by director James Wan all the way back in 2004.
Saw wasn’t just another pathetic horror franchise to come and go for me. It was a little more special than that. Maybe it was because of the writing that the sequels spawned and how it leaned more towards the horribly-titled “torture porn” category then it did traditional horror, but I still enjoyed it for its unique traps and creative writing, which became drawn out, but was initially exciting and different.
It was also that yearly dose of R-rated horror that helped fill a rather large gap back in 2004, when PG-13 remakes of foreign films were circulating like crazy and a horror fan like myself would do just about anything to see some mainstream R-rated horror without having to import a DVD or wait forever and a half for a horror friend to give me whatever little details he had on U.S. home video rights or even worse, remake rights.
Saw had its moment in the sun and it was quickly eclipsed by the Paranormal Activity franchise and its yearly installments of boring jump scares and cheaply made POV antics. Found footage has basically taken over the horror genre since then, with demons and possessions being the sole subject of said money-makers.
And this pisses me off to no extent. While Paranormal Activity was scaring teens with its show-nothing approach, Saw was busting its balls trying to introduce new sick traps that somehow twisted into the bigger picture with ease. Sure, the gore got a bit cheesy and the series did take a dive in quality as directors and writers came and went at the drop of a blood-soaked dime, but at least the filmmakers behind Saw were experimenting with things and trying to hold your attention a little bit longer.
I’m not here to tell you that the Saw franchise was perfect or even that it was a franchise set on pleasing its audiences. Lionsgate milked it for all that it was worth and then some and the later entries sort of prove that, but even the worst Saw entry was a decent horror film that I’d gladly take over the best Paranormal Activity of the series or whatever else is getting pumped into theaters now.
Saw helped shape the horror community in ways that most won’t even recognize. The duo behind The Collector and The Collection got their names penning Saw sequels and the original creator James Wan went on to direct The Conjuring, Insidious 1 & 2 and now Furious 7. Leigh Whannell (Wan’s co-creator) is directing Insidious: Chapter 3 and the list goes on and on.
And why am I writing this article? Because Saw came back to celebrate its 10th anniversary for one week only and absolutely nobody is turning up for it. It’ll close its return weekend far out of the top ten at the box office and nowhere near a million bucks, which seems to be the sweet spot for new horror films.
This means that Lionsgate is probably giving up on what little hope there was for a Saw revamp, whether it be a straight-up sequel or a reboot or a re-imagining or whatever it is that filmmakers do to bring old properties back into the spotlight and that realization SUCKS!
If done right, Saw could come back and touch up on more than a few things from now and the last film. It could completely revitalize the dying U.S. mainstream horror genre in a big way. James Wan and Leigh Whannell once said that maybe enough time has passed for them to come back to their start and breathe some new light into the Saw mythos. But that probably won’t happen now, because Saw is now a member of the cruel and harsh past, where most horror franchises go to rot until somebody kicks them back up in another ten or twenty years.
And we could’ve prevented that simply by supporting the re-release. It’s not too late though — the film will continue to play until Friday, but the damage has mostly been done and Saw most-likely won’t be seeing any sort of major return for another few years, because the interest isn’t there.
I turn this article over to the viewers. Did you like the Saw series when it was making its rounds? Would you like them to bring it back or are you just sick of horror movies and the franchises that they spawn? Franchises seem to be the “thing” everywhere else, yet horror films can’t seem to catch a break. Why?