Onto the next release of the weekend, yes it has been that sort of a weekend where the releases haven’t slowed down one bit, and I finished watching the new English film Saw X, the much awaited film in the Saw franchise and a film positioned between Saw 1 and Saw 2. I had absolutely loved the gore of Saw 1, years later when I had watched it on television. The torture-porn setup featuring a bunch of people thrown in a room, only to get their gut punctured or their skulls cracked, made for an engrossing and tense drama which probably marked the pinnacle of the body horror genre. But soon, the one-dimensional characters and the repeated setups had the viewers exhausted wherein it almost felt as if the makers were too focused on the body horror element without investing resources in the motive of the story. When I did get to know about Saw X, I was immensely skeptical of the film being another quick cash grab at a franchise which had long drawn its conclusion. But the body-horror element was exciting enough to indulge in a watch(no, I am not your next door psychopath). So then, does Saw X manage to impress….let’s find out.
Story & Screenplay
Saw X traces the events between Saw 1 and Saw 2 wherein an ailing John Kramer travels to Mexico City in order to get treated for cancer. But on being scammed, ‘Jigsaw’ will stop at nothing to extract revenge. The story here might seem like a routine revenge drama but it definitely(and consciously) invests in the emotional angle of the drama. The vulnerability of a person suffering from cancer along with his desperation is nicely highlighted in the story. The screenplay standing at a shade under 2 hours does account for an enthralling narrative which is gut-churning in many ways, once the ‘body-horror’ fun begins.
The drama opens with the introduction of the protagonist who is shown to be suffering from cancer. His hopes of living a longer life are soon on the decline so much so that he needs to attend therapy sessions for the same. Yet, ‘fate’ decides to disguise itself in the form of a glimmer of hope wherein the protagonist gets acquainted with a group of surgeons looking for human trials to performing a path breaking surgery to cure his cancer. There is a human touch to the events that give the story a purpose and a motivation for the chaos to follow in the second hour. The twist in the tale is predictable given that it was included in the trailer as well, and thus begins another game featuring ‘Jigsaw’.
The proceedings are engrossing and indulgent while the antics will make your gut-churn. I had definitely signed up for the torture porn, fully aware of what lay in store for me in terms of the amount of gore in the drama. And I wasn’t disappointed at all, and pleasantly so! The events leading up to the characters landing in the ‘gaming’ arena are decent but when the torture games begin, it is frightening to witness the same. Right from limbs and head being sliced, to skulls being broken and operated upon, and ankles and wrists being hammered, the writers definitely do not hold back with the gore and blood. Needless to say, you definitely need a strong gut to witness the torture(positively so) on screen.
The writers do well in introducing a couple of twists along the way where the tables turn quickly. But the drama did lack in a satisfying finale given that it was rushed so quickly, whereas the reality was that there was scope to flesh out the final act by slowing things down. But you are always invested in the journey of the protagonist because of a good foundation and a valid motive, and that results in a pretty well written screenplay overall.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational and adequate in the impact. The BGM is electrifying, representing the twisted nature of the drama really well. The cinematography captures some stunning shots with extreme closeups at times which makes for a rather uncomfortable and disturbing watch. The torture sequences are also really well shot with some fabulous frames on show. The editing is pretty good too. Director Kevin Greutert definitely has understood the pulse of the audience. The USP of the Saw films that have worked was the purpose and motivation behind the torture sequences while going all out with the body horror element. And he recycled that formula to utmost perfection here. This was a big green tick in the director’s report card wherein the direction was splendid.
The performances are pretty good by the ensemble cast although most characters are one-dimensional here. Octavio Hinojosa as Mateo, Paulette Hernandez as Valentina and Renata Vaca as Gabriela, all have their moments to shine. Steven Brand as Detective Parker and Shawnee Smith as Amanda are first rate as well. Synnove Macody Lund as Cecilia is outstanding and brings forth her dark side wonderfully well against the protagonist. But it is Tobin Bell as John Kramer aka Jigsaw who delivers a stunning performance, probably his best in the franchise. His baritone voice adds layers of fear in the minds of the characters and the viewers in a towering performance of the highest order. And his poker faced intimidating demeanor was enough to send a shiver down your spine.
Saw X is a gut-churning and gory installment of a disturbing franchise that ticks all the right boxes, thus making it a wonderful watch. Available in a theatre near you.