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Hey, ‘Saw,’ enough is enough

One horror fan decides (with spoilers) to call off the relationship with a movie franchise that has gone downhill and become cinematically abusive.
/ Source: contributor

Dear “Saw,”

This letter has been a long time coming. I just didn’t know how to put my feelings into words. But now I can say it: We’re through. Forgive my blunt words, “Saw,” but we’re breaking up for good. And not to make you feel bad or anything, but it’s not me. It’s you.

I guess you’re probably thinking that if I really understood you I’d have tarted up my words for you somehow and left you a cryptic note where I half-explained my unhappiness. Then I would have stuck that note inside an envelope that was also holding a key to a box. And that box would have been buried under a pit of deadly radioactive scorpions. That box would have contained your left lung, which I would have removed while you were under sedation. And I would have also filled your right lung with cherry-flavored Kool-Aid while simultaneously attaching a model train set to your skull. And then I would have outfitted the engine with little tiny rocket launchers that would set your entire face on fire.

And you would have had 10 seconds to decide if knowing my true feelings were more important than having nuclear scorpions gnawing on you or having your nose melted off. I guess that would have been more archly poetic.

But then again, I would have gone to all that trouble and then you would have probably just given me that deadpan gaze and smirked mirthlessly and said, “Oh really? Is that the best you can do?” Because you’re not supportive at all, “Saw.”

Once, last year, I sat in a screening room, waiting for some loserly, angsty, indie movie to begin and the other, more fancy film critics began to bash horror films and “torture porn” in particular. They were saying really mean things behind your back, “Saw,” but I stood up for you.

I said, “Hey there, now, you other film critics who actually care about true cinema. I like watching people get their heads chopped off for no good reason other than to see the blood splatter the wall. If loving amoral, senseless gore is wrong then I don’t wanna be right.”

But I knew, deep down, that I was just propping up an empty, soulless franchise out of a misguided attempt to justify horror fandom, even when the specific horror franchise in question is spinning its wheels.

Back when we meant something to each otherI remember our first date, “Saw.” You showed up on that tricycle and freaked me out. Then you made that guy from “Princess Bride” cut off his own foot. Then you got someone to go hide in a little kid’s bedroom closet and be a real live boogeyman.

The sexy do-or-die scenarios you rigged up were diabolical. You featured Monica Potter (an actress whose budget Julia Roberts-isms I find weirdly appealing). You were cheap and grainy and ugly and you rattled me. I had spooky dreams about you afterward, “Saw.” I knew it was love.

But you really blew it on the follow-through. You proved with each sequel that you were a one-trick doom-pony. The do-or-die setups remained somewhat interesting as the second and third and fourth remixes played on and on. But not always.

For example, what was with the hair-pulling machine in that last one? Hair-pulling? I can see meaner behavior on any Bravo reality show. Rachel Zoe, even without her squadron of crying assistants, could think up better ways to do someone in. Worse, it was clear that your heart wasn’t in it.

The urgency and evil glee that once informed your moralistic game-playing is on the wane, and your Halloweeny antics feels less and less compelling all the time. There’s nothing at stake anymore. Any random episode of Cartoon Network’s “Metalocalypse” has cooler deaths, funnier bloodshed and more narrative justification than you do.

And then you killed main baddie Jigsaw and it felt like you might go away gracefully and let me off the hook. But then you resurrected Jigsaw (sort of) and now you’ve decided to pursue these weird casting decisions: Luke from “Gilmore Girls?” What’s he going to do? Talk to me so fast my ears fall off?

Yes, it's true, I cheated on youAnd I have a confession to make, “Saw.” While you were taking me for granted and taking my money, I was seeing other horror movies behind your back. And they were way better where it counted, if you get my cruder meaning. Sure, I’ll name names. I’ve got nothing to hide from you, “Saw.”

I had my head turned by “Hostel,” of course. We all did. Also, “The Descent” and its claustrophobia and cave-dwelling monsters. I had a fling with “The Ruins,” too. And why not? It had murder-plants that could mimic a cell phone. And what did you invent today, “Saw?” I mean besides a renewed contract for more sequels. (“You won’t believe how it ends.” Ha. You’re dang right I won’t.)

Yes, “Captivity” was a big mistake. But when you’re desperate for a quality disemboweling you’ll believe any come-on. You made me do it, “Saw.”

So this is it. You’ve worn out your welcome. I’m bored. And no, we can’t just start over. Stop asking me to do that. And calling me to tell me that the call is coming from inside the house? Nice try. It’s not working, so knock it off. It’ll never be like the first time. We both know it. So let’s just part as friends before I begin to hate myself and question my taste in splatterfests.

All the best to you in your future slaughter-based endeavors,


P.S. This never happened.

Dave White is the film critic for and the author of “Exile in Guyville.” Find him at