One of the worst things that can happen to a good, original film is for its potential to be exploited and run completely thin through an unholy amount of sequels only made for turning profits in a dreaded phenomenon known as “sequelitis”. It’s a problem that’s been plaguing films for a long time, and one of its textbook examples, the Saw horror film series, has announced that an eighth installment will be released later this year. This leads us to consider a question: How many is too many?
Sequelitis is a dire issue that keeps on reappearing despite many an outcry against it. Filmmakers and studios just can’t seem to stop reverting to their “safe zone” of rebooting, retelling, and lengthening stories that were perfectly fine on their own; as a result, there seems to be a deficit of original, challenging ideas. The idea of making money has outweighed the idea of telling a great story through a great movie. Sure, money is a great thing and it does make the world go round, but is there anyone that at this point hasn’t questioned the trend of book-to-film series breaking the last book into two movies to rake in those extra box-office returns? “Soon enough…we’ll be able to look forward to Part 12 in a four-part series,” Bob Mondello, arts critic for NPR, said.
Now that we’ve talked about sequelitis, how does it apply to Saw? From its early stages, the Saw series became infamous as an instance of what happens when executives take an idea too far. The series’ co-creators, James Wan (director of the first two installments of The Conjuring and Insidious) and Leigh Whannell, only intended for the series to be three films long, but its film studio Lionsgate demanded that it be continued after seeing the financial successes of the first two films and viewing Saw as their next big horror franchise. The series’ length was stretched from three films to seven, running for six years, and produced additional content in different mediums such as video games. The Saw films were moderate financial successes despite generally negative critical reception, concluding with the seventh film, Saw 3D, in 2010…or so we thought. As it turns out, the last film contained lots of loose ends that the filmmakers had yet to tie up. “There were several ideas we never quite figured out,” Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, writers for Saw 3D, said.
Soon enough…we’ll be able to look forward to Part 12 in a four-part series.
After laying low for some years now, an eighth Saw film named Saw: Legacy, directed by the Spierig Brothers and re-introducing creative input from both Wan and Whannell (as executive producers), was announced in 2016 and is now slated for a release on Oct. 27, 2017 with ambitious plans to reboot the series entirely. “I think the [film directors] can deliver a fresh take on the material that will establish a new storyline and new characters that can carry the saga into the future,” Charlie Clouser, composer for the series, said.
Although concrete details about the film are meager at this point in time, people are already formulating some opinions about the film based on their experience with the series. “I feel like any franchise that has eight movies is bound to be repetitive, and the only reason they keep making more is because they know it’s going to sell,” Ines Husnic, sophomore, said. “It shouldn’t be the reason to make a movie, but sadly in most cases it is.”
However, other people are more optimistic. “I’ve only watched one Saw movie, but the franchise is really hyped and popular, so it makes sense that they’re making another one,” Divya Barod, sophomore, said. “I didn’t really want to watch the other ones because there’s only so much you can do with one series; they seem to keep making more of the same thing.”
“I’m pretty excited for the new one,” Gustavo Morales, senior, said. “I like the concept behind [the Saw films]. […] When people were in pain, they had good acting and you could feel the pain, and [it was] just such a nonstop rollercoaster.”
Saw has undoubtedly gone down in history as a result of what can happen if executive wants begin to outnumber artistic intentions, and it seems audacious that the already-prolonged series is getting warmed up to go at it again. In the end, we can theorize, ridicule, or hype up all we want, but our judgment is ultimately based on flimsy ground until we actually see the final product. From its early stages, the Saw series saw potential, but became muddled with problems that weighed down the films’ potential to a point where their quality has only been recognized in retrospect. It’s plausible that after the sour taste the series has left in some’s mouths, not many will be actively looking forward to Saw: Legacy. But maybe, just maybe, the Saw series has a chance of reigniting the light that drew so many in when the series began and showing us that the games aren’t over quite yet.
Image used for featured image courtesy of Saw Wiki