Fans of the franchise will be pleased to note the adherence to the continuation of the established visual presentation style. The colour scheme of deep blacks and shadows for the brooding elements and a sickly tinge to those moments meant to unsettle the viewer are back once again. Here, the dark scenes are handled extremely well, with blacks being inky and deep. Shadow detail is evidently clear yet the artistic leanings of the film never intend to draw one's eye too far into those corners, preferring to create dark borders to the action, giving a sanctuary for the unknown to dwell in.
Colours are often muted, but once again, this is down to the way in which the films are shot and thus meant to be presented to us rather than a problem with the disc itself. The moments when such colours are called to come forth, they spring alive with surprising vivacity. As one might imagine, the most basic and oft used is the cherry red blood that flows so freely throughout the feature. It has a boldness to it that contrasts well with the dulled palette of its surroundings. My one gripe would be that perhaps it is a little too bright, but this criticism is one that has been levelled at others in the series and many more films of the genre that one can only assume it to be a conscious decision on the behalf of those behind such gruesome fare.
Grain is evident yet even throughout and subtle enough to allow for a cinematic feel without intruding. Overall, things are as they should be, with the only slight caveat of an image that sometimes falls towards a slight softness, but this is only really apparent due to the crisp nature of the vast majority of the presentation. For such a low budget film, one can hardly complain over such a detail.
Don't be under the impression that this is simply bass heavy offering though, as the surrounds come into effect well during the many set pieces of the film. The industrial noises of clanging machinery and blades sweeping against metal objects primed to slice unwitting victims, is simply palpable. Add in the screams and anguished noises of the individuals coming from all angles and the resulting effect is that of an encompassing soundscape in which the viewer is enveloped.
The low frequency rumblings are aggressive and pack a punch, whilst the ambience of minor noises such as cogs, wheels and blades all come together in a cohesive package. The all important factor of dialogue is also not forgotten or lost under these myriad of acoustics, being crisp and clear throughout. There is a subtle resonance and airiness to the voices in their plight, emphasizing the hollow spaces the characters find themselves trapped within.
Essentially, there is little to fault what is a fine mix that succeeds in putting the viewer in the very centre of the on screen nightmare.
Director David Hackl teams up with his 1st Assistant Director Steve Webb to discuss various aspects of the film. All topics are covered, from the traps themselves and their workings to the effects used and how it was all edited together. It isn't a stand out track but it still manages to be fairly informative and will likely appeal to any Saw fan keen to delve further into how this instalment came together.
Producers Mark Burg and Oren Koules are joined by Executive Producers Peter Block and John Constantine to give their musings regarding the on screen action. As with the Director's Commentary, most areas are touched upon with the key difference being that this track is perhaps a little less self congratulatory and back slapping and thus a little dryer in its outlook on the franchise as a whole.
The Pendulum Trap - 480p - 5:48
Various crew members from prosthetics and props etc give us an insight into how the first trap was created. We see the use of foam crushing plates, dummy blades and prosthetic bodies.
The Cube Traps - 480p - 5:13
A brief explanation of the logistic of the trap Agent Strahm finds himself caught in. It is interesting to see how they balanced the practicality of shooting with artistic wants and safety concerns.
The Coffin Trap - 480p - 5:44
Another mini featurette telling us of the behind the scenes orchestration of what would become the final set piece of the film. Of particular note is how Scott Patterson (Strahm) learns of what is about to happen to his character.
The Fatal Five - 480p - 11:55
Consisting of four mini featurettes, this tells us about the trials of the five captives, how they were made and filmed. These include; Collars, The Jars, The Bathtub and The Blade Table.
Slicing The Cube; Editing The Cube Trap - 480p - 5:03
The director and editor take us through the conception of the cube, its subsequent filming and in particular editing. More technical than the previous extras, this touches upon such things as the need for multi-camera setups due to lack of takes and how flash frames and editing clips backwards helped aid the overall feel of the scene.
A BD Live feature that allows the viewer to add text, audio and the like into the film to create a form of virtual blog which can then be shared with friends. Unfortunately I couldn't get this to work on either of my Blu-ray players but if previous BD Live extras are anything to go by, I can't assume I've missed much.
Hardly needs explaining.
A decent set of extras, that takes us behind the scenes of the gore and delves into not only the creation physically of the props, but also the way in which the final product is filmed and edited. Sure to please any fan.
Summation of Saw V is a difficult task as the constituent parts are hardly balanced. The film itself is formulaic, yet misses an essential part of the tried and tested blueprint laid down by the previous four chapters in the series - namely the final jaw dropping revelatory moment that turns much of the previous scenes on their head. This not only helped to lift the overall experience but serves to leave a lasting impact on the audience akin to a boxer gunning to win the final thirty seconds of a round in order to catch the judge's eye.
This lack of a rousing finale is hardly helped by the previous 90 minutes worth of repetition. The characters caught in the trap are laboured, tethered to their very presence as two dimensional, seemingly throwaway, characters (though I wouldn't put it past entry number six in the series telling us otherwise). At least the other Saw films have managed to hold onto the fact that their traps/endurance trials are generally well thought out - unfortunately this is not the case here. Essentially, what should have been a series of diabolically engineered nightmares boils down to lifted elements from a Radiohead video, an Edgar Allen Poe story and a moment that has appeared in cinema so many times it could actually be considered an antique.
The plus points are that the story is pushed forward sufficiently for fans to not be able to even entertain the thought of missing this chapter. Though perhaps laboured in a Lost manner of “let's throw another twist in that doesn't bear real scrutiny”, it does at least create a genuine reason to see the film for those interested in the previous four, or the next instalments in the franchise. It plugs gaps and throws out enough possible scenarios with regard to what happens next for ponderance until Halloween. That it does so with such fine visual and audio presentation is truly remarkable for such a low budget piece.
In short - a film for the fans that comes to Blu-ray wrapped in a sumptuous package.
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