You ever have the feeling of pity when you see something that was once original, no matter what it is, degenerate itself through repetition to something bland and meaningless which starts to feel like copying something that was once great? If you have, then you know what I feel like after watching the latest entries of the Saw franchise, namely the seventh and last entry, Saw 3D.
I’m not that big on horror movies, which is quite evident in the fact that I dislike most modern horror movies, like The Ring, and my all-time favourite horror movie is Stanley Kubrick’s absolutely brilliant The Shining. Saw is one of the few contemporary horror movies that I do like, because of the originality and execution of the concept, even though it does have Cary Elwes, but nothing is perfect. The idea of putting people to the test and see whether they have the will and instinct to live is psychologically quite gripping and intriguing to me personally, and I lauded the first film, and appreciated the sequel too. It was quite apparent things couldn’t go anywhere else than downhill from the third movie onwards, I mean, what movie series could get away with killing off its most interesting, and actually the series’ essential character, the titular Jigsaw Killer, John Kramer (Tobin Bell)? Another thing that most likely cost the series much of its success was the general mindset of mindfucking every viewer by making the plots of every subsequent movie, until Saw 3D, a convoluted hash-like jigsaw puzzle which requires the viewer to have, not entirely unlike the reader of this sentence, a good working memory and deep knowledge of the inner workings of the earlier movies.
After Saw VI’s slightly better quality than the last three movies I was actually a bit excited about Saw 3D and looked forward to what the movie could offer in 3D. How bitterly was I disappointed when the movie came to its conclusion, although it did have few redeeming aspects to it. First off, the movie was quite straight-forward and didn’t require me, or anyone I’ve asked for that matter, to strain their brains to make sense of what is going on and where this movie takes place in the chronology of the overall story arc. Secondly the movie pretty much tied all loose ends of the story, and the ending specifically gave me great satisfaction as I had always wondered how, and be warned as this may spoil the ending for you if you think about it, Jigsaw had managed all the medical aspects of his games, after all he was only an engineer. Thirdly… Ok, there was no third redeeming aspect.
The direction the series started to take after the third entry, towards your regular Summer Scream-teen-slasher movie, came to its absolute pinnacle in this movie, and then there were none. The graphical nature of the deaths was also of note, although some of the effects looked really poor, probably because of the 3D aspect of the film, especially in the garage trap, which originally was intended to make an appearance earlier in the series but was vetoed because the producers deemed it too brutal, in which Chester Bennington of Linkin Park makes a surprise appearance (he has been quoted to have met with an acting coach to get into character and find his ‘motivation,’ which I find ridiculous as he only has to scream on the top of his lungs). The whole movie felt like a blood orgy, which in my opinion wasn’t the original intention nor appeal of the first movies, and the 3D was mainly utilised to throw a bit of blood and guts towards the viewer for effect, which really felt like a waste of time and money. The 3D was lacklustre at best and definitely did not add to the experience, although I did stop to admire the depth of field of the studio set early on in the movie, but was that single scene justification enough to pay a few extra quid to view the movie? Not by a long shot.
The only thing I’m really satisfied about is that the series is finally over, although unlike Kurt Cobain, it faded away rather than went out with a bang. The latter half of the series actually taints the brilliance of the first two films, because no matter what you do, you’ll always have that voice in the back of your head telling you that greed and hurry managed to make something so original and compelling essentially the Call of Duty of horror movies: a workhorse that is brought out every Halloween to see how much worse the movies can be made and still make people come back to it. I hope the producers finally have the rationale to not make a new sequel for next Halloween and let Jigsaw rest in peace finally.
It does leave a question though. What will they come up for next Halloween? The game has begun….