Now, I would consider myself – and I’m sure I would have little protest here – the world’s leading scholar in Why the Saw Franchise is, As a Whole, Objectively Garbage and Yet I Still Like It Anyway. Louise MacGregor, WtSFAaWOGaYISLIA: they had to put an extra page on my degree to fit all the letters in.
Anyway, with that in mind, it feels like the world is probably just waiting for me to offer my opinion on the recently-announced new Saw movie. Due to hit cinemas in October of next year, and boasting (boasting? Whispering, maybe) Darren Lynn Bousman (director of several previous installments of the franchise) back at the helm, my immediate reaction to this, the ninth entry into the franchise, was ugh.
Because let’s be real, Jigsaw, the depressingly weak eighth entry into the franchise, was just fucking awful – self-serious, dragging, and boring, it’s the epilogue nobody needed to the story of the central Saw franchise. And I really thought that was all this new movie was going to be – a chance to squish some extra cash out of dumbasses with a fond hangover for this franchise (such as myself).
But then came the details. The details being, of course, that this movie was based on an idea from comedian Chris Rock, who would also be starring in this movie, alongisde Samuel L. Jackson. And suddenly, I was a lot more interested. Because if there’s one thing that can save the Saw franchise from total garbage, it’s embracing the inherent ridiculousness at the story’s centre and leaning full-throttle into the stupid fun to be had here.
It’s what Final Destination did around movie three, and it’s just what kept that franchise as totally watchable (look, I mean it, it’s really fun and you’re missing out), and the more other major horror franchises, like Friday the 13th, dove into their silliness, the better they became – case in point being Jason X, or, you know, Jason Voorhees in the future, in space, as a cyborg. Horror movies have a vein of daftness shot through them from their very inception, for the most part, and the further you stretch those premises the harder it becomes to ignore that vein. So why not just dive into it full-force and use your self-awareness to have a little fun?
Lynn Bousman is a great choice for director here – his take on the second Saw movie is a slightly camp thriller with its tongue firmly in its cheek, and his other work (such as my beloved Repo! The Genetic Opera) has often embraced a twisted sense of fun. Chris Rock at the centre of this whole endeavour points to a more comedic direction, and Samuel L Jackson has his fair share of po-faced camp in his back catalogue, if only for the legendary Snakes on a Plane. If the franchise couldn’t survive on its dull retreads of the same increasingly and absurdly complex John Kramer arc, I’m beyond ready for Saw to take on something a little goofier.
Whether or not it’ll actually work remains to be seen, but leaning in to some of the franchise’s inherent silliness could save it from the reverse box-office bear-trap that it’s otherwise destined for. And I, for one, am so ready for it.
By Louise MacGregor
(header image via GeekTyrant.Com)