You know the drill (pun intended).  Equal parts rusty metal shop tools, sadistic use of those, grimy dark light locations and a budget under $10 million. Much has been made in the last year of the demise of this sub-genre, blaming everything from GITCMO to fan boredom. Saw V, the latest entry (reviewed here) opened this past weekend and may have something to say about an early diagnosis of death.  With a greater than $30 MM opening weekend the patient seems very much alive.

Before deciding, though, let’s do an analysis.  Take a look at the chart below:

Graphing the US theatrical gross as a proxy for business success of the sub-genre, two things are very evident.

  1. Extrapolating Saw V grosses to about $60 MM from its opening shows that this franchise at least has room left for profitability.
  2. 2006 saw a peak in revenues, twice that of 2007 which had the same number of films releases.

So, does the dip in revenues from 2006 to 2007 and the lack of releases in 2008 indicate the end of these type of films?  Some would say that except for Saw, it is indeed the end. Backing up that conclusion, a quick search on imdb turns up no torture horror films in development for 2009 or 2010. I don’t count Eli Roth’s Hostel III “treatment” credit as I doubt THAT will be greenlit after the piece of shit that Hostel II was. But I digress. Maybe it’s the end of the sub-genre.

However, let’s keep in mind that it wasn’t invented in 2004 with the first Saw. 2003′s two remakes of 70′s classics show that everything is cyclical in Hollywood. There are still other 70′s torture flicks out there that could be made (click here), but it looks like at least for the next few years horror will be all about the 80s slasher remakes. Friday the 13th, Sorority Row and even a Nightmare on Elm Street reboot are on the way.  I predict that torture horror will go the way of the western. The heyday is gone, but we’ll continue to see the odd entry now and then.