It seems like only yesterday that James Wan and Leigh Whannel’s Saw was taking the world of horror by storm, kicking the genre square in the backside as it shook up the game. Believe it or not, that was 14 years ago. One-four! Yep, it seems like only a bloody yesterday, but the first film in this famed horror franchise was released in 2004; itself developed from a 2003 short put together from Wan and Whannell. Fast forward to 2017, and the eighth – yes, eighth! – in the series adorned the silver screen, and now a new boxset release has been put together to include this octad of terror-laced, blood-spattered efforts. So, let’s take a look at what’s on offer as we explore what the twisted Jigsaw Killer has dished up so far.
To go in to the specific plot details of each film would fill way, way more than the word count afforded to this review. So, we should do our best to quickly summarise the loose premise and plot for those of you who’ve been under a rock when it comes to one of modern horrors most well revered franchises.
The franchise, of course, is centred around Tobin Bell’s John Kramer, aka the aforementioned Jigsaw Killer. Having constructed various games and devices through his twisted logic of giving wrongdoers the chance to cleanse themselves of their sins and to literally fight for their very existence, the Saw series sees Jigsaw and his apprentices put a whole bunch of poor souls through the wringer – with death itself even unable to keep Kramer down!
Like any franchise, the Saw series is one littered with hits and misses. Undoubtedly, that first 2003 movie was a shot in the arm for the horror genre, with its clever scripting and delicate unravelling making it a standout of modern horror. That picture would end with a huge twist, and the series itself has followed suit in every outing so far, with plot twists and shocking reveals a staple of each and every Saw film to date. In fact, the final 15 minutes of each film is usually reserved for a ‘let us explain what’s really happened here’ reveal that’s akin to an extremely gory and brutal Scooby-Doo ending. And much like the quality of each film has varied, so too has the bloodshed on show. While certain instalments have veered towards torture porn territory with excessive violence and gratuitously garish kills, the more well-received efforts in the franchise have largely been the efforts that have reined it on the gore front, instead focussing more on tension and clever storytelling. To be fair, that’s something that the most recent in the franchise – Jigsaw – did its best to try and do; with that film aiming for a more compelling narrative rather than spewing out gnarly brutality for the sake of gnarly brutality. The end result seeing Jigsaw as one of the better outings for the franchise, even if it doesn’t get particularly close to hitting the standard of the first two films.
Where the special features of this new boxset are concerned, plentiful is an understatement. Sure, the majority of the bonus content was previously seen on the last Saw boxset, but a true highlight of this new boxset release is the 90-minute documentary included as part of Jigsaw’s inclusion in this set. That doc looks as Jigsaw’s place in the puzzle, and nicely harks back to the franchise as a whole and how the early roots of the series influenced this latest outing.
When it comes down to it, the individual Saw movies are obviously the same as they were when they first came out. What you liked about them then, you’ll like about them now. What turned you off then will still turn you off now. For Jigsaw – which hit cinemas last Halloween – we have a slightly different beast that tries to return more to the ideals that got this franchise to the dance, and it’s certainly a welcome addition to the series. If you’re a fan of modern horror, Saw is likely your franchise. As such, this latest boxset will make a perfect addition to your collection.
Special Features: Audio commentaries / I Speak for the Dead: The Legacy of Jigsaw documentary / Featurettes / Video diaries / Music videos / Deleted scenes / Trailers
SAW: THE LEGACY COLLECTION / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: TOBIN BELL, SHAWNEE SMITH, MARK HOFFMAN, BETSY RUSSELL, CARY ELWES, DONNIE WAHLBERG, DINA MEYER / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 26TH