The one word that comes to mind when I think of the Saw franchise is "tired". Ever since James Wan and Leigh Whannell unleashed the first low-budget torture porn in 2004, it's been a rocky road down hill with each successive sequel churned out every year. Well, we're now on our seventh outing, and it's just begging to end the series completely, not because it wraps everything up in a neat package, but because Saw 3D simply fails to live up to the hype of being the grand finale touted on posters and in trailers.
Where do I begin? The formula continues relatively untouched here, and it's quite revealing just how beleaguered it's all become. Writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunston deliver a marginally better effort than Saw V, what most people say is the worst film of the series, yet don't manage to even muster the margin of quality in Saw VI, which wasn't all that much better. It's a little odd because you'd think that Saw done in 3D would at least be somewhat interesting. It's not.The plot is rather incomprehensible, bringing back Costas Mandylor, this time with significant facial damage, and adding Sean Patrick Flanery to the mix as a Jigsaw survivor who has become a successful author and counsels other survivors. Flanery's character attracts the attention of Cary Elwes, who returns for the first time since the original film, but doesn't really have much to do, and when he does it, tends to go overboard with the acting, perhaps to make up for his limited screentime. Showing up even less is Jigsaw himself, Tobin Bell. Basically, what is purported to be the final Saw film is, ironically, the one that features the iconic villain the least.
The characters are all rather dull and the traps even duller. We've basically seen everything done before in earlier installments, signaling the fact that the franchise is out of ideas. Whatever is there that's new certainly isn't clever, and whatever is retread isn't done better than it was before. Only one gag, that being the triple saw blade public execution earlier on in the film, suggests that Jigsaw's work has upped the ante and progressed to a new level of commentary. Everything else is just senseless gore devoid of even the most marginal weight the purpose of the traps might have imposed in previous situations.
The 3D is also a rather large point of contention. When will studios realize that they can't toot the 3D horn so hard, then give us a film that hardly benefits from it? The Saw series is dark to begin with, made even darker by the use of 3D, to the point where certain effects have become imperceptible. The producers claimed the use of stereoscopic photography would make the traps "come alive" but nothing seems particularly enhanced by the effect, which is odd because it was claimed to have been shot in 3D, not post-converted. Maybe it comes down to the fact that some kinds of shots just don't work in 3D, and the crew on this film was simply unable to adapt, but with an average of $15 for a ticket, the 3D better be worth it. Nothing was any more or less scary than it would have been in 2D, and the 3D certainly won't make you forget about how dumb the whole film is.
Save yourself the money and wait for it at home if you absolutely, positively have to see it at all. The Saw die-hards will most likely get a kick out of it, but those who want more out of their horror, as well as their 3D experience, will probably feel cheated. Even though the door is left open for another sequel, should this one prove to be successful enough at the box office, I hope this is the last we see of Jigsaw.