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The CineManiac’s 31 Days of Horror – Day 29: SAW 3D

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“SAW 3D could have been a great ending to a decent franchise, but instead traps the series with sloppy writing, acting, and lack of focus.”

SAW 3D (aka SAW VII)

Director: Kevin Greutert

Writers: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Cary Elwes


United States | R | 90 mins

Freddy. Jason. Michael. Pinhead. All these horror icons, and a few others, share a common thread – they’ve all lived on through numerous sequels. Horror is the only genre, other than pornography, that spawns sequel upon sequel once a franchise is developed, and there’s usually no stopping them until they decide to kill off the bad guy, send them to space or the hood, or remake them. The latest horror franchise, the SAW series, hasn’t gone to space nor has it been remade but they did kill off Jigsaw numerous sequels ago, yet yearly we get another labyrinth of mayhem to navigate and survive. Now in the supposed final installment they’re taking the traps to a whole new dimension in 3D.

Picking up immediately after the previous installment, a now-scarred Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) is out to silence Jill (Betsy Russell), Jigsaw’s wife, once and for all. The police get involved to protect Jill but it’s not before long that a new game is set in motion when fellow Jigsaw survivor Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery) wakes up to find himself playing again because of his dark secrets. Now all the loose ends will be tied up as Hoffman tries to carry out Jigsaw’s (Tobin Bell) legacy with the cops hot on his tail, and the one-legged Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes) makes a surprise return to bring things full circle.

SAW 3D takes us back into the convoluted maze of cops, traps, and moral choices right from the start. If you are not familiar with all of the previous entries you will be completely lost as there is no recap of previous installments. As the series progressed and threw out another set of questions with each wrapped up plot twist the SAW series somehow managed to become intriguing and interesting as it progressed. As the mythos became larger, and heavily convoluted, it also became more entertaining. However, SAW 3D sloppily wraps things up and breaks a few rules previously set. The writing is quite shoddy and the acting is the worst of the series. SAW 3D is the epitome of soap opera horror and, even though the whole series digresses into that category, the seventh film suffers heavily from it. Tobin Bell (of course in flashback) and the now-returned Cary Elwes get very minimal screen time when their characters and motives are central to connecting the franchise which, in turn, is the biggest disappointment of SAW 3D.

While the mayhem and traps are in bloody full swing, and we do finally get to see the infamous jaw trap in action, some of the set-pieces are repetitive and used solely for the gimmick of 3D. The opening trap is the first mistake the film makes as it has no connection to the legacy and motives of Jigsaw and the public setting is a horrible metaphor for voyeurism. The key points the seventh film ties together to wrap up the series could have been easily condensed into another act added onto the sixth film and wrapped up the series a whole lot better, and more efficiently. But instead we have to endure another convoluted game and uninteresting characters, and in 3D no less. The twist ending to bring the series full circle, while it does answer more than one unanswered and important question, is not given enough time to fully have an effect but does indeed cap off the franchise. SAW 3D could have been a great ending to a decent franchise, but instead traps the series with sloppy writing, acting, and lack of focus on the important aspects that made the series something to explore. Game Over.

copyright 2010 Tyler Baptist

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