I have never had a horror movie night

Though Lena and I have a lot in common when it comes to what we like, there are also big differences. The biggest difference is probably that Lena loves watching horror movies, and I don’t care for them at all. So, in light of doing things I don’t usually do, we decided to watch the first three Saw movies in a row last Friday.

Before we started on it, I wasn’t very much looking forward to it. Friday a week ago, I called in sick for work. Over the weekend, I started feeling a lot better, but after working a full day on Monday, I felt horrible. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I called in sick again, instead staying at home with high fever and general miserableness. On Thursday, I wasn’t fully recovered, yet I got back to work. I did work from home to take care of Lena, who by now also was sick, and Medley (and also to prevent disease from spreading at the office).

After a week like that, I wasn’t really interested in spending all night watching movies I wasn’t at all in to. But, we did do it.

Warning: spoilers and poorly written reviews ahead.

The first movie was written pretty decently. Two men are locked in an old and dirty shower room with no clue as to why they are there and how to get out. With the help of clues around the room, they slowly puzzle themselves towards a hopeful release. While going through the game, a series of flashbacks shares what the prisoners know about their captor, a serial killer/kidnapper called Jigsaw, and why they specifically were selected. Meanwhile, an ex-cop obsessed with the case of this serial killer slowly zones in on the truth of the matter. The story converges to a chase scene where the ex-cop meets an unfortunate ending. However, the two captives do manage to overpower and kill their captor, only to find out that he was as much a victim as they were. The real Jigsaw, who had been pretending to be a victim who committed suicide before the start of the movie, stood up and left the two men for dead.

I enjoyed most of this movie. The setting of the imprisoned men was created very nicely, and the flashbacks were a good way of filling in the details from before this ordeal. However, the scenes with the ex-cop were somewhat frustrating to watch, as there were plenty of moments where I as a viewer was certain he could have easily taken control of the situation, but each time he just messed it up. Of course, the person he was chasing turned out not to be the actual serial killer, but still. Anyway, this movie has an amazingly executed ending, where pretty much everything we were lead to believe turned out to be completely different. I can’t say I saw any of that coming, so kudos for that. In the end, this movie was well worth my time.

The second installment was similar but different. The confinement of two men in a small room has been replaced with a group of 6-7 stuck in a mansion. The setup this time: the prisoners have about 2 hours until the toxic fumes in the house will kill them, but there are antidotes spread across the mansion which will allow them to walk away safely. This time however, the evil mastermind has practically invited the police over to watch his schemes unfold on a set of monitors, following the prisoners. The father of one of the captives, detective Matthews, eventually manages to “convince” the kidnapper to take him to the place. As with the first movie, nothing turns out to be what it seems, as it is shown that the monitors the police were following are actually recordings, meaning they never had any chance to prevent what they were watching from happening. Furthermore, one of the prisoners, Amanda, was actually conspiring with the serial killer. She overpowers detective Matthews as he searches the building for his son and leaves him there instead.

The first movie was brilliant in the simplicity of the setting: two men in only one room. This sequel expands on that, making it feel similar to the Cube movies, where a group of like-fated individuals navigate through a series of rooms and corridors. Unfortunately, I feel some elegance and uniqueness were lost in this change. Nevertheless, just as had happened in the first movie, this movie saves everything with some amazing twists right before the end. Though not as enjoyable as the first one, this movie was also well worth my time.

Then came the third movie, with again a different setup. It starts by cleaning up some of the loose ends from the last movie: detective Matthews freeing himself from his chains by pretty much fracturing his foot and a researcher who knows too much about Jigsaw ending up in his grip and not making it out. We are then brought to the main story of the movie, again consisting of the path of a prisoner through a series of challenges and his captors watching on monitors. The victim in this case is Jeff, who lost his son to a drunk driver and has his mind set to vengeance. His challenges bring him to meet a witness who did not testify, the judge in the case and the driver himself. Unlike the previous movies, Jeff is at little risk himself, but it’s up to him to forgive and save the other victims. He tried for all three, but only manages to save the judge, who he later accidentally kills by triggering a trap while it was aimed at him. Meanwhile, Jigsaw is dying of cancer. Amanda has kidnapped a surgeon Lynn, who she made to wear a necklace that will blow up the moment Jigsaw’s heart rate flatlines. Lynn manages to keep him alive, but Amanda chooses to shoot her anyway, leading to the plot twist of Jeff being the surgeon’s husband, and he in turn kills Amanda. Not knowing of the bomb necklace, he also kills Jigsaw, which in turn kills his already-dying wife. The movie ends with Jigsaw revealing he also captured their daughter, which should probably be a good setup to the next movie.

While the first two movies were pretty enjoyable, this one was often a pain to watch. Even the pretty decent plot twist did not manage to save the hour and a half leading up to it. The biggest problem I have with it is that it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do. It had to tie up some loose ends from movie 2, but doesn’t seem to build on that. There were a lot of flashbacks to things that lead up to the first two movies, but they did nothing to support the plot in the current one. And the plot of movie 3 had a far greater divide between what was going on inside the game and outside of it, making both stories feel really short. Not to mention Amanda, who was written to be some kind of attention-desperate wannabe Jigsaw, made each scene with her in it feel like a major drag. The first two movies were solid, this one felt like a scrapheap of stories.

In retrospect, though we had a good night, I don’t entirely feel like I did a horror movie night. The Saw movies in my opinion are more like thrillers with some pretty gory scenes, so I’m not sure whether this should activity qualifies as completed. However, it was a very enjoyable night, which is much better than I had expected at the start of it. I might continue the series, though I don’t have really high hopes after the last one. I might also one day do a proper horror night, but we’ll see when the time calls for it.

For now, I’m done writing this review. Good night!

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