5 - 1
We include this supposedly finished franchise into the discussion because, like Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber, the culture can’t be cured of their obsession with it. Sure, Saw VII (otherwise known as Saw 3D) was supposed to bring the entire mythology to a mighty close. Now, Lionsgate is thinking Part Eight, or worse, a reboot back to the beginning (and how is that supposed to work, frankly?). Anyway, what’s most misguided about this concept is that a hundred wannabes have sprung up since James Wan reinvented the thriller with his buddy Leigh Whannell. All the good ‘games’ are already taken.
It was a novel concept - at first. Offer up a twist on the whole Blair Witch/found footage idea by showcasing a harried couple videotaping the hypothetical noises going bump in the night. Deliver a decent number of jump scares to the fright flick novices and bank big, big bucks. Even Part Two played it right, expanding the backstory without totally destroying the approach. With Part FIVE looming, the suits have clearly pushed this premise to the very limits of sustainability. Apparently, anyone with a webcam and a desire to play exhibitionist runs the risk of getting visited by demons. Wait, that’s true.
Like Saw, what fans originally liked about the first film in the franchise (the clever combination of storytelling, character, and Rube Goldberg like death traps) has now become all about the bloodletting. Don’t have a decent idea for a scare sequence? Just get a gymnast to miss her dismount and watch as her body crumbles into a collection of splattery CG segments. Sure, we love a good example of ample arterial spray as much as the next guy, but everything else in the Final Destination dialogue has been systematically stripped away. All we have left is Tony Todd and vein juice.
Originally, Miramax greenlit the Wayans’ Brothers’ Scary Movie because they thought it would be cool to mock their genre hit Scream and figured the guys behind In Living Color could do a decent job. Since then, the series has been hijacked by one of the Airplane! crew (David Zucker) while spinning off into the equally god-awful ...Movie series from no-talents Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg. With more and more horror films already acting like cheeky parodies of the genre (frankly, who could take The Last Exorcism seriously?), there is no longer a need for this kind of lampoon.
Let’s get one thing straight, right up front. Massive box office success does not mean that a film franchise is still fresh, inventive, or viable. As a matter of fact, one could easily argue that continuing commercial triumphs visited on Fox and their production partners Blue Sky are a direct result of sticking with the same shtick over and over and over again. Of course, we will see yet another installment in the series. How could we not when the last one - Continental Drift - took in…get ready for it…$877 million around the world. All we can say is, “SHAME ON YOU, WORLD!”