Despite what you may believe about the “Saw” movies, they have become the defining horror films of our generation, like “Halloween,” Friday the “Thirteenth” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” before them.
Think about it. Even with poor reviews, little variation between sequels and a cast of nobodies, the “Saw” films continue to find an audience every Halloween. Not because they have an interesting plot or authentic acting, but because they know what people want to see in a horror movie these days, and they deliver it year after year. Though “Saw 3D” is advertised as the last installment in the franchise, I expect to see a remake in production by the time I’m 40 years old, starring Suri Cruise as Virgin Who Survives #2. This series will follow the same path as its aforementioned partners in horror, and, like its main antagonist, will seemingly never die.
I know this because “Saw 3D” feels less like the end of the series than the first movie did. The parts of the movie that aren’t covered in blood tell the story of Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery), a writer who lies about being held captive by Jigsaw and writes a self-help book about his “experience,” passing it off as an enlightening, character building situation rather than a painful near encounter with death. This pushes Jigsaw’s successor, Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) from the third installment, to capture him for real and put him through a series of challenges that force him to change the error of his ways and actually help people for once. Meanwhile, Jigsaw’s ex-wife (Gina Holden) offers to expose Hoffman in exchange for immunity for her collaboration with her former husband. These storylines are carried out in the usual fast-paced and underwhelming way, proving that director Kevin Greutert at least knows what the fans want from these films.
And boy, do they get it. “Saw 3D” takes the violence public, with one of the killings taking place in a shopping mall as onlookers watch with fascination. The film was shot in 3D rather than converted in post production, which barely shows except in a few scenes where vital organs fly at the viewer’s face. There are buzz saws, bear traps and the particularly creative use of a fishing hook to grotesquely slaughter a woman. Many viewers will laugh at this movie, others will groan as they see yet another series of uninspiring killings that had completely desensitized them at least four movies ago. At least a third of the viewers will fall asleep in the theater. I for one am taking a long sigh of relief, knowing that I won’t have to deal with this movie until it’s inevitable, glorified reboot. Until then, let’s leave this saw in the toolshed.