Film scores

Soundtrack review: Saw V (Charlie Clouser – 2008)

sawv

“Saw V” is a 2008 horror film which sees the apparently last disciple and heir apparent of Jigsaw, Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) go on the hunt to protect his secret. Using a series of increasingly bizarre and grisly traps, Hoffman eliminates his enemies one by one to protect the Jigsaw legacy. From the franchise personel, David Hackl, who served as the production designer of Saw II, Saw III, and Saw IV, and second-unit director for Saw III and Saw IV made his directorial debut with Saw V. Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, the writers of the previous film, returned to write the film. Saw creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell served as executive producers and of course Charlie Clouser was back to write the score.

The previous score “Saw IV” had the music of the franchise enter a bit of a slump so I’m hoping this one gets back to the usual ways. The main titles gives me what I want but once again the meat of the score seems to follow the direction this second trilogy took, that of muddy tension. The problem with this is that it’s not deep enough to be enjoyed as atmospheric and not heavy enough to be scary. The music stays at the border not deciding where to go and it kind of loses me every now and then. I cling to the piano echoes and to the motifs from the main theme every chance I get.

I am looking for cues like “Feldman” and “Promotion”; that’s the kind of sound that makes me enjoy the score and get in my atmospheric sweet spot. Unfortunately those moments are rare. I know the music does a good job of creating an uncomfortable atmosphere but for me it’s not enough, not when I know how a Saw score can sound like. I just drift out during the middle section and only hear echoes that don’t do much for me. besides, a lot of the cues sound very much alike.

At least I find more music to enjoy here than I did on “Saw IV”. Cues like the action burst “Wire trap” or the mysterious “Strahm files” rise above the others. “What it takes” brings a nice piano echo and does a little more than set a tense atmosphere. “My method” is a weird industrial and ambient combination that makes me wish it was longer. It also marks a change in tone for the score. From then on it’s not just empty tension, the music makes me feel something.

While better than “Saw IV”, “Saw V” still falls short on the third one which is still my favorite. As always Zepp comes at the end to leave a good impression. To be continued…

Cue rating: 81 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 26 / 84

Album excellence: 31%

Highlights:

Saw V Title

Head Cage

Feldman

Promotion

Wire Trap

Strahm Files

The Fittest

Meet Jigsaw

My Method

He Had Help

Strahm flash

Pigs Revealed

Zepp Five

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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