Review: Saw 3D

Friday, October 29 by

Saw 3D is my most not favorite Saw movie. That’s the worst I’m ever going to say about a Saw film because I love the franchise. I’m impressed that they’ve managed to make seven films and each one has a story, because they didn’t have to. They could have just cranked them out. The seventh one is just my most not favorite story.

I really do think the stories are key to this series. The mystery and twists make them genius, and the slowly revealed backstory makes them feel connected and profound. Saw 3D has some ambitious ideas, but maybe not the means to pull them off.

The idea of a Jigsaw support group is awesome. I wish they had more than 90 minutes to devote to that, especially since up until now we’ve only known of maybe one survivor ever. So let’s say there were other traps we never saw and some people survived and got Jigsaw’s message. Even if they felt empowered, it’s still a traumatic way to get empowered. And some people may survive through toughness but not get the message.

Unfortunately, this is not about the world at large. It’s still about traps in a warehouse, which is fine. That’s what Saw is. It’s just that suggesting a larger world in which Jigsaw is a factor opens up too many possibilities not to play any drama there. I’d also love to know what Jigsaw would think of support groups? Surely some of his survivors met up while John Kramer (Tobin Bell) was still alive.

Also, the writing at this point is not quite at the level to handle these themes. Leigh Whannell said some profound things in Saw I – III, but the later sequels have tended to tackle bigger issues than I think Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton can really address (the health care crisis in Saw VI for example.) The main victim, Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flannery) committed a sin that raises more questions than it answers.

I get it. It’s time. I was pushing for this series to go on forever, since they kept telling stories I liked. But it’s time to wrap up. They’re not getting any deeper. They ran out of characters to create or mythology to write, so now they just put together the basic elements that will make it work. It’s the difference between telling a story and making one up. Making up a yarn can be fun, but it’s not memorable.

Some of the veterans in the cast can still make it work. Betsy Russell is more believable as Jill Tuck than the cop she’s coming to for protection. I don’t normally discuss acting because that seems like a personal choice or preference, but I have to call out Chad Donella playing agent Gibson. He’s just ridiculous. Where did they get this guy? He just gives line readings that don’t feel real. I don’t believe even he believed them.

The traps are good though. They seem like the most elaborate. They make a fun mess and spray all over the place. That’s fun in 2D horror movies anyway, but obviously in 3D they spray on you too. They do a great job extending the time. A whole lot of flesh rips off in 10 seconds (because it takes about 30 in actual screen time.)

The traps are just like mini-stories themselves, so as a collection of short films Saw 3D is effective. You know the beginning, middle and end of everyone who ends up in a trap. It messes with you and really builds to the squirmy parts.

Of course, Saw always brings it home in the end. They came up with a satisfying resolution for many storylines, although not totally final just in case this one does make $100 million and they need to do another one. As my most not favorite Saw film, I don’t know that I’ll watch it again but I’ll at least keep the ending in mind as I rewatch my more favorite Saw films and show them to my kids.

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