Title: Saw 3D
Directed By: Kevin Greutert
Starring: Sean Patrick Flanery, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Cary Elwes, Tobin Bell, Chad Donella
After five films that never achieved the same effect as the original, expectations were at rock bottom for the seventh installment of the Saw franchise, Saw 3D. All director Kevin Greutert and his team had to do was manage to at least keep it on par with the rest. Sadly, not only did Greutert fail miserably, but he had to take all of the other six films down with him.
WARNING: SPOILER ALERT
This installment’s centerpiece is a Jigsaw survivor named Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery). Ever since his “rehabilitation,” he’s been busy peddling some book around trying to bank on his trauma. The problem is, Bobby’s a complete fraud. Clearly Jigsaw is not going to let him get away with this and nabs Bobby, his wife and his entourage, finally bringing some truth to his lies. Bobby is forced to go through a series of traps all of which put one of his team member’s lives at risk culminating with the ultimate, his wife’s.
Meanwhile, Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) and Jill (Betsy Russell) are still going at it. At the end of Saw VI, Jill left Hoffman in a reverse bear trap, but Hoffman managed to escape, mangling his face in the process. Now, Jill is under police protection, specifically the protection of Detective Gibson (Chad Donella). While Gibson attempts to keep an eye on Jill and stop the latest game before the players perish, Hoffman lurks in shadows, preparing to pounce.
Before we even get into this whole mess of a story, we get an unintentionally laughable opening. It’s too bad too because the concept of having a Jigsaw killing go public had so much potential. Rather than exemplify that angle, the action focuses on a pathetic love triangle. The trap itself is rather inventive, but the banter that goes on between the players is downright silly. This is a scene that should be in a Saw spoof movie, not really part of the franchise.
Things only get worse from there. The primary portion of the film is Bobby’s story and that’s actually rather intriguing, but between the convoluted twists and atrocious performances there winds up being little to enjoy. Flanery is easily the best of the bunch, but that’s not saying much. Each character is unbearably one dimensional, dribbling out absurd dialogue like one line that describes Jill as looking “crazier than a sack full of cats,” whatever that means. Bobby’s PR team is so irritating, it’s a pleasure to see them perish and the same goes for his wife who incessantly shouts out trite lines like “Bobby, help me” and “Why are you doing this?”
As for the ways they die, they’re certainly new and creative, but far too complicated to appreciate. Almost all of the traps are designed for one thing, carnage. Most of the previous traps seem somewhat sensible, but the batch in this installment will have you questioning their validity relentlessly. In fact, there’s one instance where it’s quite confusing why Bobby’s actions don’t free the victim. There’s also one mass killing before Bobby winds up in his nightmare featuring Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington. Zero character development leads to zero interest, leaving the filmmakers to rely on gore for sheer shock value. There really is no point to this particular instance other than to send flesh flying. The fault in this department likely lies with the extra dimension. The footage does look better having been shot in 3D rather than being post-converted, but at the intellectual level of the trap’s expense. Most of the traps are designed to pop, not terrify, leaving them with no lasting effect.
As bad as the story, the dialogue and the acting is, the element of Saw 3D that makes the film almost insulting is the portion that pertains to the entire series. Dr. Gordon’s (Cary Elwes) return may be exciting for some, but the way in which they bring him back completely destroys everything the franchise has built up over the past six years. The whole scenario makes little sense. You can’t try to make a connection with earlier traps and have Amanda (Shawnee Smith) completely absent. Even worse? One of the few new scenes featuring Tobin Bell has him dressed liked a teenager. It’s so ridiculous, it’s impossible to appreciate the moment and what it means to the story.
Had it not been for these blatant missteps, perhaps Saw 3D would have made for a decent conclusion. Was there really no crewmember on hand to point out the fact that Bell isn’t properly dressed? Didn’t anyone find it ridiculous that a cop has to announce to his team they can’t take a specific route because the floorboards are missing? Apparently nobody involved in the making of the film saw a problem with the jarring back-and-fourth between Jill’s story and Bobby’s or with the overabundance of text. And how has Bobby gotten away with all of this to begin with? Is he a victim that completely fell off the police department’s radar?
What a waste of a franchise. The Saw series certainly went down hill after the first film, but at least the rest were not only watchable, but even enjoyable to a point. Regardless of quality, just about every Saw film has maintained John Kramer’s message, but here, the intent to have the victims recognize their will to survive is lost entirely. Rather than uphold anything even the slightest bit intellectual, Saw 3D is dumbed down to the max, spoon-feeding moviegoers everything the entire way through. This film will destroy newcomers’ urge to see the better films of the series and simply insult the devoted fans.
By Perri Nemiroff