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.

Rating

 

 

Advertisements

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.

Rating

 

 

Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw (2004)

Director: James Wan

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

Starring: Leigh Whannell, Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Michael Emerson, Monica Potter

 

Plot: Two strangers awaken in a room with no recollection of how they got there or why, and soon discover they are pawns in a deadly game perpetrated by a notorious serial killer.


Tagline – How do you solve a puzzle with pieces missing?

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Horror

 

Story: Saw starts as Adam (Whannell) and Dr Lawrence Gordon (Elwes) awaken in a bathroom, with their ankles chained and a dead body between them. They both have a tape from notorious murderer Jigsaw that wants to play a game with them.

Dr Gordon fills in who Jigsaw is to Adam and us, as we learn the Detectives David Tapp (Glover) and Steven Sing (Leung) who have been hunting Jigsaw and even suspect Dr Gordon at one stage. It becomes an obsession for Tapp who believe Dr Gordon is Jigsaw leaving him to watch his home, but as Adam and Lawrence get to know each other the twists on the true identity of Jigsaw come to light.

 

Thoughts on Saw

 

Characters – Dr Gordon is one of the latest victims of Jigsaw, a respected doctor why would he be selected is a mystery but his personal life isn’t as clean as his medical career. Dr Gordon plays the vital role of filling in the blanks to who Jigsaw could be as he has been considered a suspect. Adam is the other victim in the room, he seems clueless to everything going on but we learn his reason for being selected and his connection to Dr Gordon. Detective David Tapp has been hunting Jigsaw, it nearly cost him his life and has now become an obsession for him. Detective Sing is the partner of Tapp that has been working on the case with him.

PerformancesCary Elwes and Leigh Whannell are both great in the leading roles of the film both show the desperate position they find themselves one being calm the other panicked with their responses. Danny Glover wasn’t too old for this shit, in fact he is good throughout in the supporting role of the film.

StoryThe story is a mystery of why the two are being locked in bathroom, the film opens the door to the bigger picture to who and why Jigsaw does what he does, the selecting the victim process and the concept of keeping us guessing to just who Jigsaw is. We have a nice number of twists that keep us guessing from early on in the film which only gives us more when we look back on second viewing. This is a brilliant start to what became a Halloween tradition in cinema.

Horror/Mystery The horror is what has happened to previous victims of the Jigsaw murders, we also have the idea of what could happen to our leads in the bathroom. The mystery comes from the idea of just who is behind the crimes as we watch the investigation unfold before us.

SettingsThe settings for the film are used perfectly, we have the games which are mine fields for the victims with the bathroom being the biggest of all of them, which is what makes this the icon film we know.

Special EffectsThe effects are practical which is good to see, we are left in shock with moments even if some of the film is based more of what has happened over forcing us to watch.


Scene of the Movie –
The final act

That Moment That Annoyed Me Part of Tapp’s storyline seems tagged on.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most iconic horrors of modern time, it has everything and most importantly took the horror genre to a much needed new direction.

 

Overall: Must watch horror film.

Rating

 

 

Upgrade (2018)

Director: Leigh Whannell

Writer: Leigh Whannell (Screenplay)

Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel, Melanie Vallejo, Harrison Gilbertson

 

Plot: Set in the near-future, technology controls nearly all aspects of life. But when Grey, a self-identified technophobe, has his world turned upside down, his only hope for revenge is an experimental computer chip implant called Stem.


Tagline – Not Man. Not Machine. More.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fantastic Action Horror

 

Story: Upgrade starts as we go to the near future, with improved technology that isn’t too far away from reality, Grey Trace (Marshall-Green) stills like getting his hands dirty for work, while his wife Asha (Vallejo) has accepted this new life. On a routing journey home their self-driving car takes them to the wrong neighbourhood, causing a crash to which the locals murder Asha and leaves Grey paralysed.

Left feeling suicidal Grey gets a visit from a former client and technological recluse wizard Eron (Gilbertson) that offers to give him a revolutionary operation that will bring his mobility back to him through a chip known as Stem, which leads him on his own personal revenge mission with the help of Stem.

 

Thoughts on Upgrade

 

Characters – Grey Trace is a mechanic who in a technology heavy world, he would rather get his hands dirty than rely on the technology, he sees his wife murdered and left paralysed from the incident, he becomes suicidal like you would imagine believing his life is not worth living, he get a chance at revenge though from advanced technology even though himself doesn’t like violence or blood. He is our main character he will have Stem the chip control him in fights movements making him a deadly weapon. Cortez is the technology avoiding cop that is investigating the original case as well as the bodies piling up that could be suspects in case. Eron is the technology wizard that offers Grey a chance to get revenge with a chip to recover his movement. Fisk is a man hunting down Grey, he has extra abilities too which makes his hunt different to Cortez.

PerformancesLogan Marshall-Green is brilliant in the leading role because he takes full control of each and every scene, be it the talking to the voice in his head or handling the fighting. The rest of the cast are good with their scenes without taking any spotlight of Logan.

StoryThe story here shows one man given a chance to go on a revenge mission after getting a technological upgrade that cures his paralyzed position. This does take us into a realistic future with technology that does seem like it could be used in the future. Away from just the technology side of story we get a revenge film which follows the paths we expect, starting with a small fight leading up to a bigger more challenging fight by the end. We get twists and turns along the way which does keep us guessing. If you want to have a story that is fast paced throughout keeping us wanting more throughout the film.

Action/Horror/Sci-FiThe action in this film just keeps getting bigger as the film goes on, we get combat which feel unique in how Grey performs it because of his characters ability or lack there off. The horror blends in with certain graphicness of the kills and the idea behind the sci-fi in an ever-increasing technology heavy world.

SettingsThe film keeps us in a city that has accepted new technology with self-driving cars, drones covering the area and most importantly everything still looks like a normal city.

Special EffectsThe effects are used wonderfully well too, we have different abilities which make for different attacks that shows just how deadly the additional technology could be if we don’t control it.


Scene of the Movie –
Stem take over.

That Moment That Annoyed Me With all the technology in play surely the ‘Off’ switch would activate quicker.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fast paced sci-fi action film that will fly by, it has great choregraphed fight sequences, good use of special effects and a performance from Logan Marshall-Green which you will remember.

 

Overall: Must watch Action Sci-Fi Horror.

Rating

 

 

Insidious: The Last Key (2018)

Director: Adam Robitel

Writer: Leigh Whannell (Screenplay)

Starring: Lin Shaye, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Kirk Acevedo, Caitlin Gerard, Spencer Locke, Josh Stewart

 

Plot: Parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier faces her most fearsome and personal haunting yet – in her own family home.


Tagline – Fear comes home.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice World Building Horror

 

Story: Insidious: The Last Key starts as Elise (Shaye) is getting used to her new team of Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Sampson) the ambitious paranormal investigators. Elise gets called to investigate her childhood home, where she learnt to battle the ghosts even against her strict father Gerald (Stewart).

Returning home to help Ted Garza (Acevedo) Elise must confront her past in the house and outside the house as her family gets taken by the very demon which took killed her mother, leading Elise to enter the Furthering one more time.

 

Thoughts on Insidious: The Last Key

 

Characters – Elise has slowly become the face of this franchise, she shows the strength to battle ghosts and demons which would leave many people screaming in fear, her skills show her to be a powerful warrior against the evil. We do learn how Elise learnt to cope with the visits at a young age too. Specs and Tucker are the experts and easily the funniest thing in this movie, they come of socially awkward at times, but are learning how to battle the spirits with Elise. Ted Garza calls for help and here he becomes terrified about what is in the house. Imogen and Melissa are nieces of Elise who only meet for the first time, they make the bad decisions in this movie and are too easily understanding of what Elise can do.

PerformancesLin Shaye is the star of the film, she remains calm through the film and by the end you want to see her be a real ghost hunter. Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson do have great chemistry together which helps with their performances. Kirk Acevedo is good without being great, we don’t see enough of his character for him to do much more that look worried and scared. Caitlin Gerard and Spencer Locke are easily the weakest links in this movie, it feels like the producers went, ‘you can have an elderly lady in the lead role, but you must have beautiful blondes making terrible decisions too’ hence why they got hired for beauty over understanding the horror side of these films.

StoryThe story continues to show us about Elise which is good, we knew when we met her in the first film that she had battle paranormal spirits before and learning about one of her first grabs our attention. The story does try to throw twists and turns in as well as Easter Eggs from the previous films, which is fine and good fan service. The creature spirit they must face has plenty of ups and downs, the way its collects is terrifying, but we don’t learn enough about its own origin. We know horror doesn’t need the deepest of stories and this is fine, this world builds for the next chapter without damaging the previous films.

Horror/MysteryThe horror is a right mixed bag here, we have moments which is just BANG something on screen where the sound makes you jump over the actual image, this is bad, but the creature creation for the key holder is terrifying especially with what it does to keep people quiet. The mystery is good, but never feels truly solved by the end of the movie.

SettingsThe setting for the most part is the house on prison grounds, fine this should have extra spirits here and the Furthering always looks good for us to see.

Special EffectsThe effects when it comes to creating the creature are wonderful as we see less for the most part until the final showdown, by the book but it works.


Scene of the Movie –
The key creatures locking.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The Rainer twins were awful.

Final ThoughtsThis is another good addition to the Insidious line, it continues to build the world and doesn’t give too much away for future films.

 

Overall: Nice addition to the universe.

Rating