And so it ends. After seven years of torture porn, the Saw franchise has finally kicked the rusty, booby-trapped bucket. Most will agree that the films stopped being good after Saw II, though there is a decent argument that Saw III would have been a decent place to say farewell. However, like it or not, the series has had enjoyed ongoing success, albeit with diminishing returns with each successive instalment post number three.
Presumably the 3D gimmick – and the announcement that this was the final Saw – was a last ditch attempt to wrest some extra cash out of those of us foolish to cough it up every year, and it’s worked. Thus far Saw 3D has at least generated more money than at least its immediate predecessor. Admittedly, the budget was almost twice that of Saw VI (and 20 times that of the original!), but I’m sure the folks at Lionsgate are happy all the same.
Saw 3D begins by letting us know the fate of one of its original characters, in an effort to drive home the fact that this really is the Final Chapter. Of course, in practice, this revelation is more than a little disappointing, but one appreciates that the film at least attempts to bring things around full circle. Unsurprisingly, there is a new game afoot, with one of Jigsaw’s ‘survivors’ at the centre of another human-sized version of ‘Mousetrap’, and as with the last several instalments, this plot isn’t particularly interesting.
I have probably mentioned this before, but the main problem with the Saw films post Jigsaw’s death is that his replacement, Hoffman, has always been a dull character. After the death-defying climax of Saw VI, Hoffman’s out for blood, and this comprises the other half of the narrative. He’s as boring as ever, and I wonder if the series would have been better if they’d chosen an actor who played the role with more flair than Costas Mandylor.
You may be interested to know that the 3D is pretty good. The film was actually shot in 3D, which means we’re not subjected to a horrible conversion (excepting the flashbacks to earlier films, which are in short supply this time around, probably for that very reason.) That they did the 3D so well is a double-edged sword. There’s a noticeable attempt to keep the film as bright as possible (knowing full well that Real D technology makes films noticeably darker), but this of course means that the film doesn’t visually match its predecessors. It’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t, but at least this means the extra cash you have to fork out isn’t a total waste. The film doesn’t ever get too distracted by the gimmick either, which is a blessing.
Out of the usual assortment of yawn-worthy traps, there are a couple that would have to be the best we’ve seen in recent years. That being said, it remains a disappointment that Saw never really mixed up the format too much. Imagine how fun it would have been if something completely unexpected happened – say, a trap broke. By that, I mean the victim either escapes due to shoddy workmanship, or alternatively dies because the mechanism to save them fails. It’s well within the realms of possibility and would bring something truly surprising to the now clichéd situation of having victims blunder into obvious traps and then spend their last seconds on Earth screaming and banging the walls instead of trying to survive.
Another example would be if the victims were REALLY, REALLY SMART PEOPLE. It’s not impossible – plenty of Jigsaw’s targets were chosen because of their own fiendishly clever schemes – and it would make for a fascinating scene if two such brilliant minds actually took a moment to work out how to best work together to extricate themselves – and succeeded. They could even begin trying to solve their predicament BEFORE pressing play, and thus buying themselves a decent amount of thinking time. As it stands, the best traps in Saw 3D are the ones that don’t simply rely on gore, and the added gimmick of seeing Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington covered in super glue doesn’t really achieve much.
There’s a sense of achievement that comes with managing to catch each of the seven instalments of Saw around Halloween in as many years. There’s also relief that the series is finally over. I wouldn’t put it past Lionsgate to decide on a straight to DVD spin-off, but I think it’s safe to say that Saw VIII won’t be making an appearance on the big screen in 2011. Leigh Whannell and James Wan’s creation has come a long way since their direct involvement, but funnily enough stopped having anything redeeming since then. Sure, it’s been an interesting experiment of sorts, wondering just how far the filmmakers would go in creating the most complex horror franchise of all time, but I really suspect that most of the people buying tickets were like myself – feeling the need to act out the yearly ritual whilst never really believing the series was going to get any better.Rating: