Film Review – Saw 3D

Ahh, we have reached the end of an era. Regardless of whether we like it or not, Saw is the horror franchise of the last decade. I also read today that Saw is the third highest grossing horror series after Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. After this one though, who knows if it will surpass either of those. Jigsaw has joined Freddy and Jason (and Michael Myers) as a classic horror icon. Now on to the actual movie.

Saw 3D opens with the glorious return of Dr. Lawrence Gordon played by Cary Elwes, arguably the best actor to have been in the Saw series at all. We witness how he originally dragged himself out of the trap he was placed in during the original Saw movie. He proceeds to cauterize his wound on a hot pipe which he encounters in the hallway. While he screams in pain, the opening credits begin. We then meet Bobby played by Sean Patrick Flanery of The Boondock Saints. He is a public figure who has earned everything from publicly speaking about his time as a victim and then survivor of a Jigsaw trap. It is revealed very quickly that he has lied about this and he is kidnapped by Jigsaw (now Detective Mark Hoffman) so that he may be put through a real test. The rest of the movie follows him through his game.

The director Kevin Greutert kept many elements from the previous Saw films the same. Greutert is quite the veteran of the Saw movies, having edited Saw I – V and directed Saw VI. Knowing this, you would think he’d be perfect for this, but you would be wrong for the most part. While Greutert certainly has exceptional editing skills, his directing could be considered lacking. I want to repeat that the editing in the first few movies was very good and I found it to be one of the best parts of the film.

As these films have progressed, they have gotten more and more bloody. The first film had almost no blood in it whatsoever but as they went forward, they began to lack more and more plot and replace this with more and more disturbing violent deaths. We began to see this especially in Saw V, which in my opinion is the weakest link of them all, the newest film included. The end of Saw VI reminds me of when I first saw Dawn of the Dead. In Dawn of the Dead, there are a few slow motion sequences which really give you a taste of the Zack Snyder that was to come. There was one death in particular at the end of Saw VI which was extremely gratuitous in its violent nature, which unfortunately was just a fraction of what was to come.

The biggest problem with this film was that every death was ridiculously violent, showing entrails falling out of stomachs and limbs being ripped off while bodies were cut in half completely. This type of gore is not what I like to see in my Saw films because it distracts so much from the plot.

Overall, the story would have been a good one were the gore not so distracting in nature. The one thing which really made the film worth it for me was the return of Dr. Gordon. Without him, this would have been a complete pass.  There was also a disturbing lack of Tobin Bell.  Even being the title character, he was confined to two scenes.  If you are a fan of the Saw films and enjoy the mythos of them, then you definitely need to see this. In terms of the history and back story of all the films, the ending truly does come full circle and complete the series. While the film itself was not very good, it really did finish the series as it should have. If you have not seen the other films and you do not know much about the characters, you’re likely going to be better off skipping this.

The big question here is: Is this really the last Saw film?  I think we can all agree that the likely answer is no.  I could lean both ways about this; certainly, if this makes enough money, they will make another.  It’s a cash cow that I imagine they are not exactly ready to give up.  From the ending, it is hard to tell which way they would go with this.  It ends in such a way that if they leave it untouched it could be the perfect ending to the series.  However, it is also left in a way that it could be picked up and continued.  I suppose only time will tell what they will decide to do with Jigsaw.

With the initial six films, I generally have them in three categories: Saw and Saw II are exceptionally good and I would recommend them to anyone; Saw III and Saw IV complement the series but are not great stand alone films; Saw V and Saw VI are pretty much not good in any regard with a minimal amount of the trademark “Saw” twists. It is unfortunate for me to admit, but aside from the very last five minutes, this movie easily fits in to the last of those categories.

Final Grade: C