SAW V (**1/4) - Starring Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Julie Benz, Meagan Good and Betsy Russell.
Directed by David Hackl.
If you've seen the first four, you will feel about this one about the same way you felt about the three previous sequels.
The Saw franchise is my guilty pleasure. The first one was a shot in the arm to horror. The acting was all over the place, but I couldn't help but relish Cary Elwes going way out there as Dr. Gordon, the man who has to cut off his own foot if he wants to live. It also had Michael Emerson doing his bug-eyed bad-guy thing. Saw also had one of my favorite twist(ed) endings of any horror film the past six or seven years.
The sequels have had varying success with their twist endings, and I would say if you ranked them, this one had the weakest.
Unlike other horror franchises, this one requires you to see them all for it to make sense, even though if you think about it, there is a giant abandoned warehouse somewhere full of booby traps, and every time the cops sweep the area in the aftermath of a Saw movie, they miss that one secret door that leads to five or six more rooms of torture devices.
This movie relies on flashbacks to all the other movies, and it creates new ones as we get the back story on Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), revealed as the twist ending in Saw IV as the new water-carrier for Jigsaw, who died at the end of Saw III. Turns out that hey, Hoffman was behind the scenes all along, helping Jigsaw and Amanda with their elaborate traps. Mandylor, who looks like Brenda Fraser's less successful alcoholic brother, does fine as Hoffman, a cop who wanted revenge but saw the "light", at least the light Jigsaw offers.
Saw V blatantly introduces items and details with no explanation, setting groundwork for Saw VI. So while you could see any of the Friday the 13ths and they stand alone, Saw is not that way. And if I had to choose between seeing another Saw sequel or seeing Hostel III, Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, or Hills Have Eyes 3, it'd be no contest.