Horror Movie Review: Saw V (2008)

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the fifth film in the Saw franchise was out just as quickly as the previous sequels. This franchise was now a yearly thing regardless of audience hunger or staying power. It was still a success though, a massive success even if the writing was on the wall for its long-term future.

You can read our reviews of the franchise to this point below.

2004 – Saw
2005 – Saw II
2006 – Saw III
2007 – Saw IV

Taking over as director, although you wouldn’t really notice, was David Hackl with a cast made up of returning players and newbies. Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Mark Rolston and Tobin Bell. Although the latter in a much-diminished role, relegated to occasional flashbacks.

If there is one thing Saw V makes clear from the moment it starts, it is that anyone expecting anything fresh or new needs to stop watching now. Saw V begins as most of them do, with an unknown in a Jigsaw trap. Also sticking to the formula rigidly, it should come as no surprise that this individual is linked to the overall story in some way.

Once that bit of bloodiness is out of the way, Saw V picks up directly after Saw IV with Agent Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) managing to escape the room Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) locked him in. He doesn’t make it far though as he is attacked by someone in a pig mask and locked in a trap.

The trap has his head in a sealed box that begins to fill with water. To survive he performs a tracheotomy on himself.

Meanwhile, Hoffman is hailed a hero outside as he supposedly survives the encounter and rescues the young daughter of Jeff and Lynn from Saw III. No-one else survived he thinks, so his secret of being Jigsaw’s apprentice is safe.

Imagine his surprise then when Agent Strahm is brought out alive too.

Suddenly his tracks aren’t so clear and once Strahm heals, the agent starts to get suspicious about Hoffman. Strahm starts to look into Hoffman who has started a brand-new game with five people who are all responsible in some way to the deaths of eight people.

Saw V rehashes so much of what we saw before, it’s hard to get too excited about it as an entry. However, a less convoluted story and the continuing tying up of loose ends makes it a worthy entry in the series.

Let’s talk about Hoffman first. Taking on the role as the series villain was always going be a problem when Jigsaw was so iconic. Whereas you could believe John Kramer was capable of the things he did because of his backstory, it’s harder to believe Hoffman would be. The film goes some way to explaining it all by neatly tying in his involvement all the way back to the beginning. Through multiple flashbacks, we see how Hoffman learned from John and how you was moulded into the man he is now.

It helps that Costas Mandylor does well with the role. Playing the character with silent menace where you can literally see the cogs wiring behind his eyes as he considers his next move.

The other major player is Agent Strahm, the light to Hoffman’s dark. He’s a rare character, in that he is one you can cheer along but he’s just not that interesting and his stupidity at times will infuriate.

Taking a backseat to the chase that is going on between Hoffman, Strahm and their superiors are the victims of Hoffman’s game. Many bemoan this fact and the lack of excitement within the traps they experience, however it’s a nice change of pace for the series. Not different, no, not at all as it is still about people suffering violent and bloody disfigurements or deaths for their transgressions. However, the room by room elimination is enjoyable, the characters piecing together the links as the audience does.

Of course, you know the score by now. In the final room and with the final trap, the music starts playing and things begin to reveal themselves. The game is over and at the end only one will be left standing. Any guesses who? It shouldn’t be too hard considering we got Saw VI in 2009.


  • Carl Fisher

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Saw V
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