Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw 3D The Final Chapter (2010)

Director: Kevin Greutert

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costass Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Cary Elwes, Sean Patrick Flanery, Chad Donella, Gina Holden

 

Plot: As a deadly battle rages over Jigsaw’s brutal legacy, a group of Jigsaw survivors gathers to seek the support of self-help guru and fellow survivor Bobby Dagen, a man whose own dark secrets unleash a new wave of terror.


Tagline – The Traps Come Alive

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The End That Works

 

Story: Saw VII opens as we learn how Doctor Gordon (Elwes) survived, we see how Hoffman (Mandylor) fixes himself after the betrayal he faced in the last film from Jill (Russell), we also see how Jill spills the beans to the cops about who was John’s (Bell) apprentice.

Meanwhile Bobby Dagen (Flanery) is touring a book about how he survived one of Jigsaw’s game, but this has made him a new target for the games. With Bobby needing to complete his tests with rest of his team that made up his story, while we also see Hoffman trying to get his hands on Jill to end it all but there might be more people at play here.

 

Thoughts on Saw VII

 

Characters – John is still dead, but we learn how he wasn’t impressed with one of the so-called survivors gaining his fame from the story of being involved in the game, he does have a much smaller role though. Hoffman is known fully as the man working with John, scared after escaping the bear trap, he is playing the last gang now while keeping one step ahead of the law. Jill is in hiding with the police after Hoffman escaped the trap she placed him in, worried for her life she is willing to spill on everyone involved. Dr Gordon is back and part of a survivors support group, the fans of the series have been waiting for years to see him return. Bobby is a man that has been making money off claiming to have survived one of the jigsaw games but not he is being forced into going through one with his team.

PerformancesTobin Bell does have a much smaller part but is the drawn in the film. Costas Mandylor for me is now the star of these franchise as he is the most interesting character now. Betsy Russell is good without being as believable this time around. Cary Elwes brings the class back as we had been waiting for years for his return. Sean Patrick Flanery is also good in his role as the latest man being tested.

StoryThe Hoffman versus Jill storyline is the highlight of the film as now Hoffman is known by the police to be the bad guy he can do anything to anyone who gets in his way. The game does have a man that needs to be tested but the main victim he needs to save shouldn’t be in the game at all. This has been my problem for a while, the wrong people are being left in a place of choice. I will however praise how the film tied up at the end finishing the saga in a full circle.

Horror/Mystery The gore is at the highest level in this film, the 3D effects even add more to the gore being used, but some of it is just pointless. The mystery once again is the highlight of the film as we are kept guessing to where the characters will go next and why Dr Gordon has returned.

SettingsThe settings are a strange one here, the big game is normal location but the opening sequence is in broad daylight with the crowd running to see, not sure if this is designed to mock the fans that enjoy the torture porn general or not.

Special EffectsCan’t fault certain effects here but some are made just for the point of having 3D, when we didn’t need it.


Scene of the Movie –
Game Over.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The game is gore for the sake of gore.

Final ThoughtsWhile the game is poor, the conclusion of the story of who works for Jigsaw does work for this franchise that needed to end here.

 

Overall: Nice finish to the franchise.

Rating

 

 

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Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw VI (2009)

Director: Kevin Greutert

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Mark Rolston, Betsy Russell, Shawnee Smith, Peter Outerbridge

 

Plot: Agent Strahm is dead, and FBI agent Erickson draws nearer to Hoffman. Meanwhile, a pair of insurance executives find themselves in another game set by Jigsaw.


Tagline – 6 Chances, 6 Lessons. 6 Choices.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Weak Effort

 

Story: Saw VI starts as we finish the aftermath of Hoffman (Mandylor) cleans up the Strahm body. We move to Umbrella Insurance where William (Outerbridge) who has been handling claims along with his team that decide who does and doesn’t qualify for cover. Agent Erickson (Rolston) has taken over the investigation believing Strahm has gone missing and the new prime suspect in the Jigsaw murders.

Hoffman gets the deal done with Erickson to work together on the case with a surprise return from a previous film. in a twist of events Hoffman is now working with Jill (Russell) John’s (Bell) ex-wife who is following the final request, to take place William in the latest game in revenge for the insurance he refused to give him to cure his cancer.

 

Thoughts on Saw VI

 

Characters – John is still involved in these films, now we watch him continue to build the bigger picture as he teaches Hoffman about this theories, we also see how he did have other helpers including his ex-wife but this time the game is personal as he uses the insurance company that refused to help his cancer treatment. Hoffman finds himself in the clear of any suspicious after framing Strahm now, he builds one more game with Jill as he works with the FBI to solve where Strahm is now. Erickson takes over the lead of the investigation of the FBI, he brings Hoffman into the investigation to locate Strahm but just how much will he give away. Jill is revealed to be involved in the games after films where she denied being involved, she can work with Hoffman but seems to have been set her own game. William is the latest man to be tested, he must choice who lives and who dies from his team of ruthless insurance team.

PerformancesTobin Bell once again is the star of the show, being calm through each scene as we see how John would be calculating each decision through the movie. Costas has become the backbone of this franchise not getting the praise he deserves. Mark Rolston is good but doesn’t get enough time on screen. Betsy Russell finally gets a chance to shine in the one of the movies in her role. Peter Outerbridge is good too as the man going through the test.

StoryThe story once again is split into two, the game is frustrating to watch as it goes against the idea of Jigsaw, even though it is his game, it is personal and doesn’t leave the players any chance to survive, with a twist that doesn’t click. The over arcing story does work though, as we continue to watch Hoffman design the games where he is still must escape suspicious from the FBI. We do continue to build the bigger picture but for the most part we focus on the game too much

Horror/MysteryThe horror does continue with the high levels of gore which will work for the fans of the series, but the mystery side of the film does seem to have taken a step back here.

SettingsThe settings all work for the film showing us the underground trap design as the high life insurance people would never go down to that level to hear a story.

Special EffectsThe effects are as always great from start to finish of the film, sing mostly practical to create the gore.


Scene of the Movie –
Escape the Bear Trap.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The game goes against the ideas.

Final ThoughtsThis is the weakest of the franchise to date, it goes for shocks over the storytelling process which disappoints after the last two improvements.

 

Overall: Weakest of the franchise.

Rating

 

 

Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw V (2008)

Director: David Hackl

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Julie Benz, Meagan Good, Mark Rolston

 

Plot: Following Jigsaw’s grisly demise, Mark Hoffman is commended as a hero, but Agent Strahm is suspicious, and delves into Hoffman’s past. Meanwhile, another group of people are put through a series of gruesome tests.


Tagline – In the end all the pieces will fit together

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Arc, Pointless Game

 

Story: Saw V starts where we finished the last film, Hoffman (Mandylor) locking Agent Strahm (Patterson) in the death room of John, Strahm must go on his own test to make it out of the warehouse where he ends up in a trap using his intelligence to survive the impossible to escape trap.

Hoffman considered a hero now gets a promotion and gets known as the man who stop Jigsaw, Jill Tuck (Russell) gets a message from John (Bell) following his death with a box that will have clues on what to do next. Hoffman is presenting his own game with five victims needing to escape the tasks they are placed in with Brit (Benz), Luba (Good), Charles, Mallick and Ashley being involved. Strahm taken off active duty starts looking into Hoffman himself, while Hoffman tries to lead Strahm replacement into believing it is him.

 

Thoughts on Saw V

 

Characters – John is long dead now, but in this film we learn how he recruit Hoffman to be part of his team, we see how he passes on the ideas believing Hoffman has better control than Amanda. Hoffman is now in control of the games, he is running his own while also trying to shift the suspicious surrounding him, placing it on Strahm. Agent Strahm survives one of the games to the surprise of Hoffman, now he is placed on leave but doesn’t want to rest until he can get his proof Hoffman is the man behind the traps. The people in the game include Jill as they all have a connection to what is the bigger picture.

PerformancesTobin Bell is the presence we all have come to know in the franchise and while only in a smaller role he is good, Costas Mandylor steps up to the starring role as we see the clogs turning through each scene he is in. Scott Patterson is also good in the desperate detective figure. It the rest of the cast which are fine with their roles but not to the level we believe they should be at.

StoryThe story is split into the bigger picture as we learn how Hoffman is involved with the Jigsaw murders and how he must keep on top of his true identity to stay in the game. The otherwise seems like a random game which doesn’t seem to have any connection to what is going on in the bigger picture which takes us away from the film. this is why I both enjoy and hate this franchise, I love the bigger picture side of the film but hate the pointless games we watch.

Horror/MysteryThe gore used is heavy for the film but it is strange that the horror side of the film only seems to come from the games which don’t involve the biggest and best part of the film, the mystery side to where things will go next.

SettingsThe settings continue to show us the warehouse feeling where the games need to make them feel like the characters are hitting rock bottom.

Special EffectsThe effects do looks great still with most coming off practical throughout the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Final game.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The five person game did feel almost pointless to the bigger story.

Final ThoughtsThis does continue to have a great bigger picture storyline but it does fill in the gaps with mindless gore.

 

Overall: Solid continuation of the Hoffman story.

Rating

 

 

Director: David Hackl

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Julie Benz, Meagan Good, Mark Rolston

 

Plot: Following Jigsaw’s grisly demise, Mark Hoffman is commended as a hero, but Agent Strahm is suspicious, and delves into Hoffman’s past. Meanwhile, another group of people are put through a series of gruesome tests.


Tagline – In the end all the pieces will fit together

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Arc, Pointless Game

 

Story: Saw V starts where we finished the last film, Hoffman (Mandylor) locking Agent Strahm (Patterson) in the death room of John, Strahm must go on his own test to make it out of the warehouse where he ends up in a trap using his intelligence to survive the impossible to escape trap.

Hoffman considered a hero now gets a promotion and gets known as the man who stop Jigsaw, Jill Tuck (Russell) gets a message from John (Bell) following his death with a box that will have clues on what to do next. Hoffman is presenting his own game with five victims needing to escape the tasks they are placed in with Brit (Benz), Luba (Good), Charles, Mallick and Ashley being involved. Strahm taken off active duty starts looking into Hoffman himself, while Hoffman tries to lead Strahm replacement into believing it is him.

 

Thoughts on Saw V

 

Characters – John is long dead now, but in this film we learn how he recruit Hoffman to be part of his team, we see how he passes on the ideas believing Hoffman has better control than Amanda. Hoffman is now in control of the games, he is running his own while also trying to shift the suspicious surrounding him, placing it on Strahm. Agent Strahm survives one of the games to the surprise of Hoffman, now he is placed on leave but doesn’t want to rest until he can get his proof Hoffman is the man behind the traps. The people in the game include Jill as they all have a connection to what is the bigger picture.

PerformancesTobin Bell is the presence we all have come to know in the franchise and while only in a smaller role he is good, Costas Mandylor steps up to the starring role as we see the clogs turning through each scene he is in. Scott Patterson is also good in the desperate detective figure. It the rest of the cast which are fine with their roles but not to the level we believe they should be at.

StoryThe story is split into the bigger picture as we learn how Hoffman is involved with the Jigsaw murders and how he must keep on top of his true identity to stay in the game. The otherwise seems like a random game which doesn’t seem to have any connection to what is going on in the bigger picture which takes us away from the film. this is why I both enjoy and hate this franchise, I love the bigger picture side of the film but hate the pointless games we watch.

Horror/MysteryThe gore used is heavy for the film but it is strange that the horror side of the film only seems to come from the games which don’t involve the biggest and best part of the film, the mystery side to where things will go next.

SettingsThe settings continue to show us the warehouse feeling where the games need to make them feel like the characters are hitting rock bottom.

Special EffectsThe effects do looks great still with most coming off practical throughout the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Final game.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The five person game did feel almost pointless to the bigger story.

Final ThoughtsThis does continue to have a great bigger picture storyline but it does fill in the gaps with mindless gore.

 

Overall: Solid continuation of the Hoffman story.

Rating

 

 

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.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – The Neighbour (2016)

Director: Marcus Dunstan

Writer: Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton (Screenplay)

Starring: Josh Stewart, Bill Engvall, Alex Essoe, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Luke Edwards, Melisa Bolona, Skipp Sudduth

 

Plot: Set in Cutter Mississippi, the film follows a man who discovers the dark truth about his neighbor and the secrets he may be keeping in the cellar.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Horror Thriller

 

Story: The Neighbour starts as small time criminal John (Stewart) and his wife Rosie (Essoe) move into a farmhouse, the town shuns him knowing his past and the police heckle him looking to catch him out, but it is their neighbour that interests them in Troy (Engvall) a hunter at heart, that doesn’t like trespassers.

When John’s cover is blown, he rushes home to escape with Rosie only to find out she has gone missing and the clear subject is Troy. John enters his house looking for answers, but what he finds will leave him needing to fight to survive while trying to save Rosie.

 

Thoughts on The Neighbour

 

Characters/PerformanceJohn is a shady criminal, he drifts between towns but now he looks to escape, he must show all his abilities when it comes to sneaky to beat an even deadlier criminal group. Troy is a leader of a group of criminals he has a brilliant enterprise going on that he is the front for. Rosie is the wife of John who ends up being captured and is just a victim in most of this.

Performance wise, Josh Stewart is making a name for himself in this style of horror after the Collector films and he is good in these films. Bill Engvall is a good villain working well for the film with Alex Essoe being a standard female victim for the most part.

StoryThe story of two different sides of the criminal worlds clashing over something out of their hands does make it hard for us to pick a side but we do a good action horror side to this film. if we had a good side and a bad side it would be too easy to cheer for one but having to route for a criminal we do get something good here. The formula is tried and tested and easily left open for a sequel if need be.

Crime/HorrorTwo crime worlds colliding works very well with the horror side being a battle to survive what would be certain death in captured.

SettingsThe film is set over two neighbouring hours which does help the film create what is needed for the secretive side of what is going on.

Special EffectsWe have mostly practical effects for everything that is going on and it all clicks for what happens in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid horror that is well worth a watch.

 

Overall: Horror fans enjoy this one.

Rating