Production company Lionsgate is rumoured to be considering a remake of the original Saw, first in their seven movie-strong (so far) horror franchise. Saw, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2004, was an independent horror film by Australians James Wan and Leigh Whannell; it unwittingly spawned a multi-million dollar franchise which, many have argued, is only getting worse with each instalment.
With a shooting budget of only $700,000, Saw introduced us to the antics of the depraved ‘Jigsaw Killer’, a serial murderer who entraps his victims before setting them unimaginably hideous tasks (such as cutting off their own feet). The film won a slew of awards, and was hailed as cutting-edge indie horror. However, once the series was picked up by Lionsgate, things got more than a little out of hand. Here we are, six films later, and the Saw franchise has now become synonymous not only with Torture Porn (a horror subgenre known for almost unwatchably over-the-top violence and gore), but with unimaginative, repetitive, predictable horror.
A reboot could be just what the franchise needs to drag it out of the slump – but, it would be more than a little strange for Lionsgate to simply remake the first film. Firstly, the original isn’t even ten years old. I know; it seems as though we’ve been watching Jigsaw’s hapless victims make lassos out of their own skin in order to reach a rusty hacksaw so they can laboriously cut off one or more of their limbs in a convoluted and probably pointless attempt to get hold of the key to their shackles for half a century or more. In reality, it’s only been eight years. The original Saw is still alive and sawing; it’s a young film with everything to prove, and could still be scaring the bejesus out of film lovers for decades to come.
Apart from that, the first Saw is the very definition of the phrase ‘original and best’. If Lionsgate are planning on rebooting their cash-cow franchise (it’s grossed $870 million worldwide and counting), why remake the best film of the series into what is almost certainly going to be a pale and anaemic shadow of its former glory? To quote John Turturro in O Brother, Where Art Thou: ‘That don’t make no sense.’ Surely the best route to a reboot would be to simply take the concept and style of the Jigsaw Killer and put it to a whole new use, with a whole new twist (à la The Amazing Spiderman)?
Original creators Wan and Whannell quit work on the franchise after film number four, but it has been reported that they are open to continuing the series if something new and interesting can be squeezed out of the material. Most of the sequels have so far failed to do this, but with the original creators back at the helm of a reboot there could be the potential for a good movie. Even so, most film-goers and critics seem to have already made up their minds; a Saw remake would be pointless, too soon, and probably tarnish the original; a Saw reboot would be pointless, too soon, and probably just yet another rehash of old material, and an eighth (count them) straight-up Saw sequel …well, who knows anyone who’ll have any time for that?