Of all the Saw films, this seems to have the least coagulant.
The opening starts with a trap that is directly influenced by Edgar Allan Poe and doesn't disappoint on what we all expect from opening traps. Lots of gore and very little chance of survival.
After the mind bending satisfaction of the timeline twisting that strung Saw III and IV together, we start again in the backroom and move events forward into the aftermath that leads us into the next lesson Jigsaw is teaching.
I don't know if people start watching the franchise movies this late, but this would be the place to do it. There is more about Detective Hoffman and his back story and his involvement with Jigsaw than actual Jigsaw mythology. It is exhausting and semi-boring to see The Detective and The Agent Strahm tango…until the end. The payoff is there if you stick with it. You get flashbacks, but not enough to spoil the first four movies, giving you plenty of incentive to go back to the beginning.
Where Costas Mandylor is usually just a pouty face (sorry, I'm not a fan of Pouty Mandylor), here we get to see his acting spread out a little, and show more than just the stoic, cop face. Or at least, express some passion.
The game doesn't start until twenty minutes into the movie, when we finally get to five people in a room. The “haven't you watched T.V.” line that is revisited from Saw 2 seems silly as people come to the split second realization of the situation they are in. One of the most understated, and for me, personally satisfying, things about the Saw movies is the social decay. Watching a group of people, or one person reacting to another, decline into pure instinct as all those rules and conventions fall away is just as gratifying as the gore. That's why Jigsaw picked them, and that is why most fail his tests. The twist when the understanding comes at the end is as reliable as any other Saw movie and we are left with one big, unanswered question and unknown fates. If you made it through the opening of Saw IV, then this gore is child's play. Grab some hot, cheesy nachos and munch away.
What didn't coagulate for me was the relationship of the players to Jigsaw. With the previous Saw films, the players were all directly related to Jigsaw and the personal events that shaped him, even when it hasn't been revealed to the audience yet, or would only be done with either extremely sharp attention to detail or my way, watching the commentary. These people all played their parts in an event for which Jigsaw feels they should be punished. And that's it. While each movie has the feel of a Deeply Grimm Fairy Tale, the lack of the personal connection to Jigsaw was a letdown. And I'm assuming that was a wig Julie Benz was wearing. It was also a letdown. I did love her role reversal from what we are used to seeing on Dexter.
Even with these flaws, the House of Jigsaw gives plenty to its disciples. I will return to worship for Saw VI to see just what will be answered.