a critiQal film review Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: As a deadly battle rages over Jigsaw’s brutal legacy, a group of Jigsaw survivors gathers to seek the support of self-help guru and fellow survivor Bobby Dagen (Flanery), a man whose own dark secrets unleash a new wave of terror...

876 words (Est. Reading Time 4m 22s)

“If it’s Halloween, it must be Saw.” That’s the tagline that ran every year for six years, from 2005 to 2010. And now it’s all come to an end with Saw 3D.

While the series has been uneven, it’s managed to keep going mainly by tying in previous films with the current one, creating a mythology viewers are eager to follow along with – that, and the inventive traps created along the way. I always assumed Saw 3D would be more of the same, but it seemed I’d grown tired of the nearly endless flashbacks and rehashing of plots. So, when I heard the new film was also adding 3D – a sure sign the series was becoming a bit stagnant – I didn’t feel motivated to see how everything was going to turn out.

And so it went, for two years. Saw 3D was on my list of movies to see, but it was never high on that list, and even when it arrived on NetFlix®, I just didn’t feel like watching it.

Finally, however, when some extra time became available, I decided to give Saw 3D a shot. Would the film exceed my less-than-stellar expectations, or is the necessity of finishing the series the only reason I – or anyone else – would want to watch this last film?

Tobin Bell appears once again, mainly through flashbacks, and while he deserves congratulations for appearing in every film in the series despite being killed off early on (in Saw III (2006)), the viewer now sees his appearances as a note of nostalgia back to the glory days of the series, back when the traps were inventive and the villain was more thought-provoking and chilling, as opposed to Costas Mandylor’s soulless automaton.

Costas Mandylor is back again, and while he’s still as cold-blooded and uncaring as ever, his war with Jigsaw’s widow, played by Betsy Russell, manages to give viewers a reason to want to watch him, nearly for the first time ever. With Russell’s character as his cold yet calculating foe, Mandylor seems in for quite a fight – until Russell’s Jill suddenly reverts back to a typical horror film cliche – scared female victim. She manages to toss in a good shot or two, but those are few and far between as Saw 3D puts Mandylor squarely back in the driver’s seat for their confrontations.

Then there’s the new cop foe, this one played by Chad Donella. Introduced for the first time ever in Saw 3D yet apparently full of history with foe Mark Hoffman (Mandylor), he seems like a last-minute addition, and never really catches the viewer’s interest. His game with Hoffman comes off making him look like nothing more than a slow-witted idiot, and is really a low point in this finale.

After a couple of inventive – yet completely throwaway – trap scenarios to kick things off, Saw 3D adds another game into the mix. While this one seems like an obvious choice, it’s still interesting to watch the victim navigate through the obstacles in his way. Unfortunately, the viewer will probably guess the outcome long before the game is finished, making this, sadly, also a large waste of time.

And, the gore factor seems to have gone up a notch for this final film. While this can’t really be the case (some of the earlier films had some truly grotesque sequences), it might be the in-your-face camera angles aiming for that 3D effect that cause the gore to seem like it’s a bit more vivid and grotesque than ever before – almost to the point of causing some queasiness.

After a brilliant start with Saw (2004), this horror series has spawned 6 sequels. While that’s a feat all by itself, not all of those sequels have been good, and by the time Saw 3D rolled around, I saw it more out of necessity (had to complete that final review) than any real desire to see how things wrapped up.

Sadly, by putting Costas Mandylor’s Matt Hoffman squarely back in the driver’s seat for most of the film, the filmmakers squashed the glimmer of hope we had at the end of Saw VI (2009) that Jill was going to give Mandylor a run for his money. Toss in a last-minute addition of another cop with a sudden history with Hoffman, and gore spilling out of every in-your-face angle while suspense has apparently become a thing of the past, and round it off with a trap that the viewer will easily guess the end to long before it happens, and a lot of the thrill disappears from Saw 3D.

Aside from a few brief appearances by Cary Elwes, rare sparks from Beverly Russell’s Jill, and a heartfelt performance by the man who is the main focus of this film’s big trap, Saw 3D would be hardly worth seeing at all.

True, the film does bring the series to a close in a fashion that evokes fond memories of the first film, but most of this final sequel, like too many of it’s predecessors, fails to evoke the same terror and suspense that the original did – and still does.

And so ends the story of Jigsaw…and for some of us, that’s been a long time coming.

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