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The Four Seasons of SAW
by Tony Farinella

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Saw

Saw
If it's Halloween, it must be Saw season for moviegoers all over the world. Yup, it's that time again. In fact, it's time for Saw 4 already. I know! Hard to believe, isn't it? It seems like only yesterday that Saw debuted in October of 2004. Now, we have our fourth installment of the series. Needless to say, the series has grown to insane heights. The films just keep getting bigger and bigger every year. They also continue to make money. Let's look at the numbers: Saw 1 ended up making $102,917,772 million worldwide on a budget of $1.2 million. Wow! That's quite a turn around, eh? As far as Saw 2, they raised the budget to $4 million, and it ended up making $144 million worldwide. Finally, Saw 3 was made for only $9.98 million, and it ended up making $164,822,275 million worldwide. Thanks to Wikipedia for that information. After reading how much money the Saw films have made, it's easy to see why they keep making them. If the fans want to see the films and they keep making money, why stop? It would be idiotic to stop making them. Why leave money on the table? It's also perfect timing, because they release the films on Halloween weekend. What's better than a horror movie on Halloween? It rocks, to say the least.

With this week's column, I'm going to focus on what makes the Saw franchise so popular. We know the films make money, but why? How do they do it? I'm going to examine the franchise and break it all down. I hope you enjoy.

The Traps/The Games:

Without question, this is first and foremost. Whenever I see a Saw trap, I always think to myself: "How would I handle that trap? What would I do? How would I get out of it?" They're all valid questions, ya know? It's hard to predict how we would react if we were thrown into a Saw trap. It's scary! They also promote the traps online and in theaters. I remember when I saw A History of Violence in late September 2005, and they showed a 30-second teaser of the eye trap. I was blown away! And of course, we all saw the jaw drop teaser from Saw 1. The Saw guys know how to get us excited without giving too much away. They always raise the bar with their traps, too. I give them credit, because it's not easy to come up with traps. You also have to please the hardcore fans who want the traps to be bigger and better. That's a lot of pressure. If the traps don't live up to their expectations, they'll let you know about it. Saw fans are dedicated, hardcore, and vocal. They're not shy about voicing their thoughts on the franchise. It looks like the traps in Saw 4 are pretty wild and pretty out there. Again, don't ask me how they do it, but they come up with new traps every year. Will they be able to do the same thing
Saw 3

Saw 3
for Saw 5 and Saw 6? We shall see.

The Internet:

Yup. The Internet DOES work. Now, you're probably going to say, "Well, what went wrong with Snakes On A Plane?" That's a valid question. Well, in the case of Snakes On A Plane, I think not everyone was in on the joke, ya know? Plus, it was released in the Summer. And in my opinion, Summer is a bad time for horror movies. I loved Hostel Part 2, but it got lost in the Summer shuffle. I think that's what went wrong with Snakes On A Plane. OK, it's time to get back to Saw. Saw knows how to use the Internet to their advantage. You see, movie fans love the Internet. I know I spend a TON of time online. It's addicting, isn't it? You can go on message boards, websites like Matchflick.com, and You Tube. So, since movie geeks like myself and others are already on The Internet, why not show us some ads from your movie? Why not show us a little clip from your movie? Why not talk to us through a message board? I know that Darren Lynn Bousman responds to a lot of the Saw fans on their message board. You need that fan interaction. Without sounding like a total loser, I can't go a day without checking my e-mail or going online. And I know I'm not alone! The interweb is like a drug to some people. Also, the Saw films are not screened for major critics. Saw 1 was screened for critics, and I know that Ebert and Roeper reviewed it and gave it two thumbs down. But that's it. So, when your film is not being reviewed by critics, you need to use the Internet.

Sticking With The Same Crew:

Saw is very much a family affair. No, it's not a family movie, but it's basically the same crew on every single movie. Leigh Whannell and James Wan have been involved in every single Saw movie in some way. Darren Lynn Bousman has also directed Saw 2 and Saw 3. In fact, he's become the new Saw director. When Darren says goodbye to Saw (we think) to focus on other projects, David Hackl will take over the Saw franchise. That's the rumor that's been floating around on the Internet, but only time will tell. Even if David does take over, it's still in the family, because he's been the production designer on a number of Saw films. We also get the same producers as well. Yup, it's all about the familiar with the Saw franchise. And that's a good thing. Why mess with a good thing? If you have a good group of people on set, it makes the whole experience a lot better. And as movie fans, we appreciate that. If you're having fun, we're having fun. Plus, we know we are in good hands. I think a lot of sequels fall apart, because they change things up and throw in too many new people. With Saw, we get a lot of the
Saw 4

Saw 4
same actors. I mean, sure, we get new faces with every film, because Saw features a high body count, but the core characters are alive and well. But, how will that work in Saw 4? Jigsaw is dead, right? We'll see how they explain things in Saw 4.

The Vision:

OK. It's time for me to be brutally honest. I loved the first Saw, and I thought Saw 2 was OK. I didn't hate Saw 2, but I was disappointed with certain aspects of the film. As far as Saw 3, I thought it was too gory and too depressing. I know you're probably thinking, "Well, duh, it's a horror movie." After watching the film again, I'll admit that I was wrong about Saw 3. I'm still not crazy about it, but I'm criticizing for the film for doing its job. I mean, if the film affected me THAT much, it must be doing something right. Yes, I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong. I messed up. I'll sum it up like this: I respect the filmmakers, and I respect what they do every year. And they always stick to their vision. They don't listen to critics or naysayers. They know what they want to do, and they stick with it. You don't have to like every film by a certain filmmaker, but you do have to respect passion and vision. It's the same for me with David Lynch. I don't always like every film that David Lynch does, but I admire the amount of time and effort that David Lynch puts into his films. You can respect something without being a big fan of it.

Halloween:

Yes, it's the perfect release date. They have found the perfect weekend, and they have stuck with it. It's almost like a family tradition! Everyone gets together on Halloween weekend to see Saw. In fact, I've seen Saw on opening weekend for the past three years. And I plan on seeing Saw on opening weekend this year as well. I've said it so many times and I'm sure you're tired of hearing it, but I love seeing a film on opening night with a lively audience. There's just so much excitement in the air. And there's also the twists. We've come to expect at least one twist from every Saw movie, and sometimes even more. Who will show up? What will we learn? Ah, you gotta love Halloween. Truthfully, I consider myself lucky to be around for the Saw franchise. It's really something else. I know one thing: I'll be there on October 26th, 2007 for Saw 4. Truthfully, I have no expectations for this film. I know that sounds kind of cynical, but I think that's the best way to approach the Saw franchise. If you go into the film with insane expectations, you're probably going to be disappointed. I still believe in the Saw franchise. I don't know how they do it, well, maybe I do, but they keep getting my 10 bucks every year. Will they get your 10 bucks this year?

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Single and Loving Flicks
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Expect the unexpected from Tony as he'll give you his columns on the way movies used to be, the way movies are, and the way they should be.


Other Columns
Other columns by Tony Farinella:

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The 2007 Thanksgiving Turkey Movie Awards

Danielle Harris of Halloween 4 and 5 Interview

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Author Interview: John Kenneth Muir

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Tony Farinella
Tony is an Oak Lawn, IL based film reviewer and columnist looking to have fun and share his unique views on film with everyone. Tony also has an unhealthy obsession with Vanessa Lengies, but that is neither here nor there.


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