For anyone who doesn’t happen to follow limb-dismembering, mechanized-torture horror films, the fact that the sixth entry in the Saw series is being released this weekend will seem unremarkable in just about every way. For decades now, gruesome new horror movies have arrived at the multiplex with big fat roman numerals stuck at the end of their titles. Only the most fanatical droolers of the “horror community” are even still counting. I mean, really, who would seriously bother to keep track of how many interchangeably cruddy Friday the 13th sequels there are? Or how many times Freddy Krueger ever came back from the dead to brutalize a new crop of Elm Street kids? Or how often the Halloween franchise has been scavenged, rebooted, Zombie-fied, and generally flogged to death? Quick, can you name all the Texas Chainsaw movies? How about Hellraiser? Who the hell cares?
Like I said, Saw VI sounds like bloody business as usual. But there’s a big difference. Every one of those other series enjoyed a brief period, of maybe two or three years, in which they really connected with an audience, followed by sequels of increasingly diminishing returns, released in a spotty, opportunistic, every-few-years fashion, during which their appeal was bled dry. The Saw series, by contrast, has been a clockwork blockbuster, a squirm-in-your-seat annual carnival for gore freaks. The first one was released on Oct. 29, 2004, and by the time Saw II came out exactly one year later, on Oct. 28, 2005, the series “owned” Halloween. The release date had become part of the brand, almost as if Lionsgate had licensed the holiday. READ FULL STORY »