The Saw series has always been a standard of sorts. After what I felt was an iconic debut, the series has always remained consistently interesting, with one of the most compelling and ever expanding plots in film history. People may complain that the series is in decline, but what people need to realize is that each part is astronomically better than the corresponding parts of other horror series (for example, Saw IV is better than Halloween IV, or the 4th Nightmare on Elm Street film). The same holds true for Saw V, though the film definitely shows that the series is in decline and needs to end soon before it descends into pure absurdity.
A universal truth of the Saw series is that every entry, no matter who does it, will always be well written and contain a plot twist or two at the end. Again, Saw V continues the tradition of revealing the \'huge\' (if you could call it that) twist whilst \"Hello Zepp\" by Charlie Clouser plays in the background. The film answers as many questions as it raises, and serves as more of an origin movie, like Saw IV did. Only this time, the origin doesn\'t focus on John Kramer/Jigsaw, and therein lies the problem.
Why does Saw V fail to impress me? Simple. Not enough Jigsaw. Tobin Bell, who has managed to create an iconic villain over the last 5 years, delivers another sublime performance that is not to missed in the world of horror as perhaps the greatest villain of the decade. It really amazed me how Saw IV had the best acting of the series, but just one movie later, pretty much every performer falls flat on their face. This is especially sad considering most of the cast are returning characters, except your typical \"why is this happening to me! AHHH!\" type characters (which got unbearably annoying, considering they killed off the two least annoying ones first). Meagan Good and Costas Mandylor are acceptable in their roles, however.
Back to the lack of Jigsaw. Tobin Bell really doesn\'t physically appear that much in the movie, and that is far and away its biggest flaw. The film is similar to Saw II more than the others. To get my drift a little better, imagine the second film, except reduce Jigsaw\'s screen time by about half. Yeah. This is the only weakness of the screenplay for me, which appears to have matured from the over the top torture porn in Saw III and the ridiculous attempt to run Saw IV concurrently with its predecessor. The film\'s biggest flaw is in the acting and lack of Jigsaw. Besides this, I really felt that it fit the mold as a worthy entry to the series.
After watching this, however, I no longer feel that Saw is the standard of excellence in horror as it once was. That said, the film has the advantage of being short and never dragging. It\'s well paced and will more than deliver the thrills. Another thing I feel obligated to mention is that this is the least scariest film in the series, which is okay, because unlike every other cheap horror film, Saw V doesn\'t try to be scary. It\'s more of a thriller with some gruesome images (like the first film) than a full blown horror movie (like parts II & III).
In the end, what it comes down to as far as your ability to enjoy the movie, you have to ask yourself this question: \"why do I watch the Saw series?\". If you watch it for the story and plot twists, you should be at least satisfied, if not entertained. If you watch the series for pure shock and awe and disgust, you\'ll be disappointed, because Saw V does not try to be a horror film outside of a few scenes. It\'s a decent entry to the series that is tolerable, despite a lack of the iconic Jigsaw, horrid acting, and a somewhat predictable plot twist (easily the most predictable of the series).