Revisiting Saw, and the Torture Porn Genre

Making a return after its supposed Final ChapterJigsaw has once again come under fire for championing guts for glory. Yet for all the bad rep it gets, the flak may not be entirely justified. As criticism continues to spew from every end, there is no better time than now to revisit the much-maligned ‘torture porn’ genre, and the movie that started it all.

Released in 2003, Saw may be well known for its creative display of gore. But it was the plotting and characterisation that proved the most intriguing. Such as is rarely done in horror, the film builds up a strong case for its fascinating villain, whose impetus goes far beyond an ostensible murder intent.

Before his big plans, John Kramer had been stricken with cancer. When he attempted suicide out of desperation, he survived. It is only with his proximity to death, did he begin to appreciate life, and it is this belief that inspired his becoming.

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The Midnight Lullaby

Few things made Luciana happier than watching the world go by from her window. There, she could look down at the pavement and imagine her tiny feet upon gravel. She could watch the blue skies above turn dark as the hours passed.

On lucky days, she could even catch a glimpse of birds weaving through the fluff of clouds. More often, she peered into the her neighbour’s home, although her father forbade her to. Still, she kept watch on the house, claiming interest in the night sky.

No one knew much about the old woman who lived there. Stories have it that she never left her home, and had lived on the street longer than anyone else did. A young nurse came up to visit her three times a day – at eight in the morning, twelve in the noon, and seven in the evening.

In the hours between, the old woman had only the company of her grandson. The boy – no more than six – would sit in the old rattan chair next to her bed. Every night, she would sing him to sleep.

Luciana never knew the words to the lullaby. But she did always hear the faint hum of the mournful tune, consonant with the grim sorrow that she saw on the woman’s face. She could never forget it, she thought.

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Review: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Blade Runner 2049 (dir. Denis Villeneuve, 2017) – A long-buried secret leads K to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who has been missing for thirty years.

Verdict

A plodding pace for thin plotting tempers enjoyment of what is otherwise a thematic marvel, with visuals made for the cinematic experience.

4/5

Review

Just two years from the future that Blade Runner predicted thirty years ago, and we are still steps away from emotive replicants, hover cars, and instant showers. What has however exceeded 20th century expectations, is digital imagery. Film has since seen brilliant advances in simulating realistic holography and futuristic landscapes. It is hence no surprise that Blade Runner 2049 would be a visual masterwork.

What about its narrative then? Years have left the ambitious sequel at a disadvantage, asking questions that have already been asked before. Its predecessor Blade Runner had been made in 1982, when novel ideas such as singularity were rife with unknowns. The source material Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick goes further back to 1968, at a time when A.I. had been but an abstract concept.

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The Lonely Hunter

Aina saw and felt nothing, as though she no longer existed. Then, everything came back to her at once. Her senses were overwhelmed. An acidic scent of smoke swam in the air, attacking her dry throat.

Where she laid, she tasted metal on her tongue and spat out blood. She wished she would have had a bottle of water on her right then. But rules were rules. Belongings of any kind were forbidden on a time trip. All precautions against paradoxes had to be strictly observed, Aina had been warned yet and again.

Black spots danced around her vision as she tried to figure out where she was. She blinked hard through sore eyes, and stumbled along the alley. Conscious of her nakedness, she peered from behind the wall. Surrounding screens lit the familiar city in shades of blue and green.

It took a while before she remembered what she was here for. This was the right place. Aina was right where she needed to be.

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Review: The Host / Gwoemul (2006)

The Host / Gwoemul (dir. Bong Joon-ho, 2006) – A family of four will do anything to rescue their youngest, from the monster that has risen from the depths of Han River.

Verdict

Far exceeding the purpose of monstrous chaos, the creature feature finds heart in a moving story of a dysfunctional family’s last shot at redemption.

4/5

Review

Eco-degradation has serious consequences. The Host personifies the danger into a living creature, whose mutation had resulted from chemical toxins that were irresponsibly dumped into Seoul’s Han River. With no purpose beyond destruction, the monster ravages the city and stores its human prey for food. Among its kidnapped victims is Hyun-seo (Ko Ah-sung), whose family would do anything to get her back.

As with how the World War’s nuclear anxieties had birthed Gojira back in 1954, the inspiration behind Gwoemul is also found in a real-world incident. In 2002, a South Korean employee of the U.S. military poured 20 gallons of formaldehyde into the same river, leading to anti-American protests by various environmentalist groups.

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Review: Kingsman – The Golden Circle (2017)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (dir. Matthew Vaughn, 2017) – After their headquarters come under attack, the Kingsman sets out to stop the perpetrator, who has also sparked a global, drug-induced epidemic.

Verdict

Doubling down on the havoc, Kingsman ups the ante on fun but needs to do better than waste its band of characters.

3/5

Review

Perfect tailored suits, a bare essential of the Hollywood spy repertoire. From every iconic incarnation of Bond to the sharp-dressed men of U.N.C.L.E., no world-defending agent has ever left for a mission without being dressed to the nines. And so there seems no better front than a bespoke tailor shop for Britain’s top-secret service Kingsman, back again for more overblown shoot-outs.

Shame to see their neat headquarters go at the very start. Destruction rains upon good folks, who deserved much more than the hasty farewell they got. But no time for grieving, as Merlin (Mark Strong) puts it. Along with Eggsy (Taron Egerton), now up to snuff and wearing the mantle of Galahad, they fly off to Kentucky on a hunt after the culprit.

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