So here we are at the end of my month dedicated to an examination of the Saw franchise and what have I learned?
First of all, the 2004 film Saw is an effective, low-budget thriller that impressed me with concept, acting and a few intriguing plot twists. I think I'll add my copy of the film to my horror DVD collection, and although I have zero interest in seeing the many films inspired by the franchise, I can honestly say the film is worth the watch for thriller fans.
Next, the comic book is a great example of how not to expand a text into another medium and both the Reality TV series and the video game are excellent examples of how to explore the phase space of an original text. The comic added nothing to the original story and gave no lead-in to the sequel, in addition it could have created the beginning of an entire comic book series (for those of you unaware, horror and comics have a long and involved history together - check out The Horror The Horror: Comic Books the Government didn't want you to read by Jim Trombetta), while the reality TV series and Video game both spawned sequels and introduced new audiences to the horror genre and the original film franchise.
Finally, as a series, the franchise quickly looses steam and soon exhausts it's original concept - by the end of the third film I had seen the basic plot of the remaining four films. As a long time fan of the horror genre, I can honestly say that unlike fantasy, horror works best in short form. What horror also does is pack kids in theatres, and like the Friday the 13th's and Nightmare on Elm Street's of the 1980s, the Hammer Horror Films of the 1960s and the Universal Monster Movies of the 1930s and 40's, it ensures a new generation of teens grow up with a series they can call their own, as evidenced by the massive amount of fan fiction and websites devoted to any and all horror series.
In horror films, the two biggest sub-genres are slasher movies (wherein a killer chases teens around until one of the teen girls starts doing the chasing) and ghost movies (wherein a ghostly phenomenon terrifies a family until the Dad embraces the spiritual). In 2004 Saw found another way (no teen characters and a "Slasher" who wants his victims to live, and to be better people for it) and creators Leigh Whannell and James Wan followed it up in 2010 with Insidious, one of the most effective ghost films I've ever seen, which also turned the tried-and-true formula on it's ear (It's not the house that's haunted).
1 month ago