Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw IV (2007)

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay) Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, Thomas Fenton (Story)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Lyriq bent, Athene Karkanis, Louis Ferreira


Plot: Despite Jigsaw’s death, and in order to save the lives of two of his colleagues, Lieutenant Rigg is forced to take part in a new game, which promises to test him to the limit.

Tagline – It’s a Trap

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Improving Once Again


Story: Saw IV starts as watch John Kramer’s (Bell) autopsy, but it uncovers a new recording for Lt Mark Hoffman (Mandylor) promising to pass on his work. Hoffman is getting help from FBI agents Peter Strahm (Patterson) and Lindsey Perez (Karkanis) who have been working on the Jigsaw case believing the bigger picture is going on with more than just John and Amanda.

Lt Daniel Rigg (Bent) becoming stressed and distant from his wife with the case learns that Eric (Wahlberg) is still alive and placed into a trap with Hoffman. Rigg gets placed into his own game where he has 90 minutes to save Matthews and Hoffman but with the FBI investigating Rigg becomes the prime suspect in the Jigsaw puzzle along with John’s ex-wife Jill (Russell) who reveals the motivation for John to become Jigsaw.


Thoughts on Saw IV


Characters – In the present time John is dead, but in this chapter we learn what motivated him to start his games or tests if you like, this does bring us to want to sympathise with John. Hoffman is the new lead detective on the case, where he must deal with the FBI turning up but worse for him, he gets caught up in the latest test with Matthews. Agent Strahm is from the FBI, he is searching for Jigsaw team as he believes it can’t have been the two-person operation, he believes someone in the force is involved and that John’s ex-wife is involved. Jill Tuck is John’s ex-wife, she is one of the prime suspects due to her connection to him, now she must give us the story to what motivated John. Rigg is the detective that has seen his friends on the force taken by Jigsaw, it is costing him his marriage so now he must go through the game learning that he can’t save everyone.

PerformancesThe performance across the board are good with Bell taking a smaller role but showing us, the sympathy needed. Patterson brings us a character we needed, one that knows the game is bigger and will do everything to stop it. The rest bring us the importance to certain moments in the film without being the full stars of the show.

StoryThe story continues to build the world that Jigsaw was from, we show that we will be facing more apprentices because Amanda and John couldn’t pull off the traps alone, this keeps us guessing on who it could be as well as teases potential returns of previous characters. The main game about a cop that needs to learn he can’t save everyone does feel like we are learning how John could recruit someone while the FBI investigation is the most interesting side of the film.

Horror/Mystery The horror comes from the games being played, they are becoming more graphic as we go along. The mystery is a lot more interesting here as we are left wondering who could in fact be the newest member of the team Jigsaw.

SettingsThe settings show us how the game can be performed in the small scale location in warehouse which would have no witness to what is going on.

Special EffectsThe effects are great here, when it comes to the games you can’t fault the effects team, we also see great moments of cutting between scenes that look flawless.

Scene of the Movie –
The final act and reveal twist.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain games do feel like gore for gores sake.

Final ThoughtsThis is a step back in the right direction, the bigger picture is a huge plus for the series as this film opened the doors to so many new directions for the film to go in. the only problem is there are sometimes one too many sub-stories to follow.


Overall: Good addition to the franchise.




Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw III (2006)

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Writer: Leigh Whannell (Screenplay) James Wan, Leigh Whannell (Story)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Angus Macfadyen, Bahar Soomekh, Donnie Wahlberg, Dina Meyer


Plot: Jigsaw kidnaps a doctor named Lynn denlon to keep him alive while he watches his new apprentice put an unlucky citizen named Jeff through a brutal test. Lynn has to keep jigsaw alive until Jeff completes the test or else Lynn will die

Tagline – Legends never die

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Starting to Slide


Story: Saw III starts right after the last film with Detective Eric Matthews (Wahlberg) needing to get out of the bathroom ankle lock, with the rest of his department still hunting down Jigsaw. The detectives are noticing something different with the latest games as we see the victims not getting a chance to survive the games, unlike anything John (Bell) has ever designed before.

For this game we follow doctor Lynn Denlon (Soomekh) who is struggling with her own depression and is abducted by Amanda (Smith) to perform surgery on John as he continues his battle with cancer, on the other side of the story we follow Jeff (Macfadyen) who has closed off from the world after his son is killed by a drink driver, who got off light, Jeff must perform a series of tests to help him get to face the killer.


Thoughts on Saw III


Characters – John Kramer is now on the verge of death with the cancer leaving him bed ridden through this movie, he has passed on his ideas to Amanda to carry on his work. Amanda is running this game, while watching over John’s surgery, she thanks him for everything while trying to put her own spin on the games. Jeff is being tested through the tasks as a man that has lost his child who could get revenge on the people that let the guy of lightly. He must learn to get over his loss to make it through the game. Doctor Lynn Denlon is abducted to perform the surgery on John, placed in a trapped she must perform brain surgery to help prolong his life and if she fails her life will end.

PerformancesTobin Bell continues to be the shining light in the film series, Shawnee Smith is good in her role where we see a candidate to replace Jigsaw being designed. Angus Macfadyen is solid as the man following the redemption and we see his desperation and emptiness he is feeling. Bahar Soomekh is strong as the doctor needing to stay in control while being in the game.

StoryThe story does continue to show how desperate John is to pass his message on to someone new, we do watch how the surgery is being performed to make sure John could have more time, while the game shows one man getting the moments he has dreamt of being able to get revenge on the people involved in his son’s death trial. This is the beginning of the story I don’t enjoy, it puts someone else in charge of whether people make it out alive, which seems to go against everything we have been taught. The side of the story I did like is watching how an apprentice is being created to John’s ideas, this is the beginning of me enjoying the bigger story over the tests.

Horror/MysteryThe horror is much higher than we have seen before, the games are more violent and this easily has the most gore of the franchise thus far. The mystery comes from the connections to everything but to be fair it just doesn’t click together like the previous two.

SettingsWe do continue our warehouse settings which helps us see the dirt the people are expected to make it out of to live.

Special EffectsThe effects here are again fantastic with most coming off practical with the cracking of bones echoing through every scene.

Scene of the Movie –
The Rack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Stepping into the idea of choosing if someone survives or not.

Final ThoughtsThis is where the series started to go downhill, we do get a better bigger picture but as the for games we see things going in the wrong direction for the franchise in quality.


Overall: It’s all downhill from here.




Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw II (2005)

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Writer: Leigh Whannell, Darren Lynn Bousman (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Donnie Wahlberg, Erik Enudsen, Franky G, Glenn Plummer, Emmanuelle Vaugier


Plot: A detective and his team must rescue 8 people trapped in a factory by the twisted serial killer known as Jigsaw.

Tagline – We Dare You Again.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Good Sequel


Story: Saw II starts as we meet Detective Eric Matthews (Wahlberg), the lead investigator into Jigsaw now, he has been struggling with his parental duties with his son Daniel (Knudsen) but when he gets called out by Jigsaw, the team get their first lead. Closing in on Jigsaw or as we know now John Kramer (Bell) he finds himself watching over his son inside the latest game.

We follow Daniel with the other victims including drug dealer Xavier (G), returning victim Amanda (Smith) and Jonas (Plummer) as they must navigate their way through this game as Daniel watching on hopelessly learning the motivation behind all of John’s ideas.


Thoughts on Saw II


Characters – John Kramer is the man we know as Jigsaw now, he hosts the games and this time he brings the detective to him, knowing he hasn’t got long left to live, he mocks them as he explains his actions and choices. Detective Eric Matthews has been tracking Jigsaw for a while now taking over from the previous case, he finds his son in the latest game and must listen to the motives behind the games. Daniel is Eric’s son that is in the game, his true identity could be his undoing as he is put in the game with the criminals. The criminals in the game all have been involved in Eric’s cases and all have their own problems.

PerformancesTobin Bell fast became the face of this franchise and you can see why in his calm performance throughout. Donnie Wahlberg is good as the detective but you feel he doesn’t get to the same level as Glover did in the previous film. Erik Knudsen is good as is Shawnee Smith, we have good performance from the whole cast.

StoryThe story continues in the hunt for Jigsaw, we know who he is now but the police still don’t know his identity. We follow how one detective gets put to the test to learn who the selection of new victims are that are with his son while we also get the first steps into the backstory for Jigsaw and what his goals with the games are. This does build a bigger world picture by the time we are done and just leaves you wanting more.

Horror/MysteryThe horror once more from the games being played by our victims, we get more graphic games here but that is because of the style of battle to survive, the mystery isn’t on the same level but we do have one as we wonder why these people have been selected.

SettingsThe settings keep us in dark warehouse rooms which show how low the people need to go to make it out alive and how easy the traps could be to create.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well to create the kills and games which look practical for the most part too.

Scene of the Movie –
Final reveal.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Some of the cut editing is too flashy.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good sequel to the original, it continues to build the world and most importantly brings us a twist that is even bigger than before.


Overall: Good sequel, keep watching.




Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Horror – The Barrens (2012)

logoDirector: Darren Lynn Bousman

Writer: Darren Lynn Bousman (Screenplay)

Starring: Stephen Moyer, Mia Kirshner, Allie MacDonald, Peter DaCunha, David Keely, Erik Knudsen


Plot: The Vineyard family Richard (Moyer), Cynthia (Kirshner), Sadie (MacDonald) and Danny (DaCunha) go into the woods for a camping trip. The trip is to help Richard get over the loss of his father by scattering his ashes in the lake he spent his childhood. Richard’s ideal trip would be no technology and an increased bonding time, but things don’t go his way when the family arrival with everyone using technology just in the woods. Richard moves his family further into the woods but the deeper they get the more isolated the family becomes. With Richard starting to go into madness and it is left for us to decide whether he is going crazy or whether he is being followed by the Jersey Devil.


Verdict: Lovely Build Terrible Conclusion


Story: I am going to be harsh to this because I feel the whole film builds up really well to show one man’s decent into madness, but then it gets ruined with the conclusion. The positive side of this film is that it builds up like a poor man’s Shinning and that would have worked because the cause of the madness would have happened due to a relatively innocent incident. Using a real life urban legend the Jersey Devil gives the idea of creditability behind the horror and unexpected. In conclusion this film is watchable but the end ruins it all. (5/10)


Actor Review


Stephen Moyer: Richard the father of the family who believes he once saw the Jersey Devil as a child, he takes his family to the same woods to get some family time but he soon starts getting paranoid about what he has seen. Does a good job in the role showing that he can play a man who is losing his mind. (7/10)


Mia Kirshner: Cynthia the awkward step mother to Sadie who tries to win her over by being the good guy in the disagreements, she sees her husband start to lose his mind but struggles to do anything about it. Poor performance as she never looks convincing as the concerned parent. (4/10)


Allie MacDonald: Sadie the teenage daughter who hates the idea of camping and has no choice but to go. She plays the typical teenage daughter offering nothing new to a role we have seen too many times. (5/10)


Peter DaCunha: Danny the son of the family who enjoys the idea of camping but soon becomes what looks like the target of the evil. Simple performance that never does much. (5/10)


Director Review: Darren Lynn Bousman – Creates some good suspense but then ruins it all with the ending. (6/10)


Horror: Good build up for one horror never really giving the actual ending enough of a shock value. (7/10)

Settings: The setting works well to create the isolation needed for this type of horror. (8/10)
Special Effects
: Most of the effects happen off camera or is an aftermath of something happening. Which all work well but the final encounter is poor standard. (6/10)

Suggestion: This is one for the horror fans to try I think most will enjoy all but the end of this film. (Horror Fans Try)


Best Part: The decent into what looks like madness.

Worst Part: The ending.

Scariest Scene: Dream sequences.

Believability: Using a real legend it is all up to whether you believe it. (5/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Could do.

Post Credits Scene: Yes


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

Tagline: The terrifying legend of the Jersey Devil is alive


Overall: Great Built Up Horror, Terrible Finishing Horror

Rating 50

Mother’s Day (2010)

logoDirector: Darren Lynn Bousman

Writer: Scott Milam (Screenplay) Charles Kaufman, Warren Leight (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Rebecca De Mornay, Jaime King, Patrick Flueger, Warren Kole, Deborah Ann Woll, Briana Evigan, Shawn Ashmore, Frank Grillo


Plot: When a family of criminals Ike (Flueger), Addley (Kole) Johnny (Matt O’Leary) of the run return home they find out it has new owners. They call the head of the family Mother (De Mornay) to help solve the problem. The new owners Beth Sohapi (King) & Daniel (Grillo) are hosting a party leading to the situation where the family has a group of hostage while they discover where the hidden money is. Beth has to help Ike get more money leaving the rest to battle to survive the ruthless family.


Verdict: A good modern horror remake, yes I did just say that

Story: Where do you start we have a great story here, we have the one on one hostage, group hostage and caring doctor trying to turn a miss guided person, all with the backdrop of an impending hurricane. The story work very well in the horror genre and builds great tension throughout with all the secrets coming out along the way. Add the good twist at the end you have a very underrated horror film here. (9/10)


Actor Review: Rebecca De Mornay – As the all demanding Mother who has taught the family all they have ever known but only her beliefs. Rebecca is brilliant in this role her character needs to be in control and through the whole film she is due to the dominating performance. Star Performance Award, Scene Stealer Award (9/10)


Actor Review: Jaime King – Innocent wife who has to spend most of the film with crazed Ike collecting money from around town. Jaime does a good job here controlling the situation as best she can, puts up a good fight and creates a new victim role that could lead onto something bigger against the Mother. (8/10)


Actor Review: Patrick Flueger – Ike has to stay calm to make sure he gets the money for the family but his rage boils over during different scenarios. Patrick creates a very good character the older wiser brother of the family who can control the other brothers. Good work in the supporting villain role. (8/10)


Actor Review: Shawn Ashmore – The calm doctor who helps the injured family member and tries to turn the younger sister by explaining how other things happen in life. An important character here because throughout the film we get teases that she might turn on the family. Good performance from Shawn here proving giving him a chance to do more than ice things is possible. (9/10)


Director Review: Darren Lynn Bousman – From Saw 2, 3, 4 and Repo! The genetic Opera I knew this guy had a ability to tell a great story and this only tells this more creating so many different scenarios and bring them all to one conclusion done to perfect. (9/10)


Horror: Getting trapped and some very horrific scenes with most of the bloodiest scenes of camera just leaving the aftermath. (8/10)

Thriller: Builds up in nearly every scene which always delivers a twist or outcome. (9/10)

Special Effects: Some good make up effects after violent scene. (8/10)

Believability: The hostage situation has happened in the past and all the friends with dark secrets are real, the dominant mother as well a very real scenario created. (9/10)

Chances of Tears: None (0/10)

Settings: The setting is created with the trapped hostage situation adds to the suspense along with the idea they don’t know how things are going with Beth doing everything to help rescue them. (9/10)

Oscar Chances
: None

Chances of Sequel: It gets left open for a sequel, but failed to make any money for some reason. So looks unlikely.

Suggestion: A horror film that really seemed to go under the radar here. I have to suggest this to all the horror fans out there it really has a mix of everything you would want in a thrilling horror with plenty of human touches on human nature. (Watch)


Best Part: Twist ending makes it even better.


Overall: A brilliant horror film


Rating 90%