FEBRUARY 28, 2010
If a studio releases an independent film that is a blatant ripoff of one of its other independent films (and its studio-financed sequel), can anyone involved be sued? How about folks like me? Can I sue Lionsgate and/or the makers of Are You Scared? (including producer and HMAD “favorite” Mike Feifer, whose involvement prompted me to consider just shutting the film off at once) for releasing a film that was so much like Saw and Saw II that I had no possible way to enjoy its “twists” and “turns”? I mean, I’ve seen my share of Saw knockoffs in the past few years, but this one truly takes the possible lawsuit cake.
OK, see if this sounds familiar: After an opening scene kill that’s not really related to the rest of the movie, an African American SWAT officer and an attractive female detective investigate a possible location for the killer, only to find him gone. They talk a bit about how he’s “at it again” or some nonsense, and then it’s off to meet our other main characters, a group of six people who wake up in an abandoned warehouse and cannot recall how they got there or what connection they might have to one another. And the most arrogant member of the group dies within minutes. Luckily from there it diverges a bit, but it’s still loaded with Saw-lite moments; the mastermind watching everything through a monitor bank and talking to them with a voice distortion box, the “choose or die” type traps, the twist ending that theoretically makes you want to watch the movie again under a different context (fat chance)... Christ, the climax even has someone shout a final line to someone before sliding a big metal door shut on them. Way to think outside the box, folks.
To be fair, I didn’t guess the twist; primarily because it didn’t make any fucking sense (I get why he’s after the main girl, but it seems a bit convoluted and surely too expensive an endeavor if he just wanted revenge on her). But to be fair without being snarky, they do come up with one really good trap - a brother and sister are placed (actually, they place themselves there - most of the movie wouldn’t happen if they all just stayed put, as there is no gas or anything keeping them from doing so) with drills pointing toward them. Shutting off one drill makes the other one inch closer to their sibling, so it’s this whole back and forth thing - save yourself, or your brother/sister? It’s a trap that would have fit well into the Saw mythos (the others are pretty lame, and/or are direct steals from Saw, such as a key surgically implanted inside oneself), though the hilariously cheap design of the thing (and what’s with the blue lights for their eyes?) sort of dampens the idea.
I also found it laughable and somewhat disingenuous that the killer had to order all of his own traps. You’re already ripping off Saw left and right, why not try to make the guy MORE interesting than John Kramer? One of my favorite odd little moments in the Saw series is when you see John passing the time by looking through a catalog of various mechanical parts. I liked that he came up with and built these things himself. This sod orders the shit custom-made, which is just a quick and easy way for the cops to find him instead of doing any strenuous police work (this scene is hilarious by the way - they go to the glass place where he ordered one of his traps, and the guy has the receipt sitting right there, with the correct address and everything). But it also keeps me from thinking he’s very intelligent, and the script never offers him a chance to do anything but shout at monitors and deliver exposition.
Oh, and it seems that they weren’t content with merely ripping off Saw, so they rip off Lost too. Our spunky, curly brown haired female lead apparently set her father on fire while he slept so she could spare her mother from any further abuse at his hands. She even has a similar orange/pink tank top that Kate wore a lot on the pre-Dharmaville days of the show. So after me, the only person in the world who can be less surprised by anything in this film is Michael Emerson (and maybe Ken Leung now too).
And there’s a sequel! If it all takes place at the same time as this one I’m gonna have to smack someone, possibly HMAD reader Pyro, who recommended this one to me (j/k).
What say you?