Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Cary Elwes, Betsy Russell, Sean Patrick Flanery, Gina Holden

Director: Kevin Greutert

Writer(s): Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan

Cinematography: Brian Gedge

Original Score: Charlie Clouser

Running Time: 90 mins.

You know the drill by now, “it’s Halloween, it must be Saw” though this is purporting to be “The Final Chapter” which would suggest some sort of conclusion to the ever sprawling story and back-stories that have built up the franchise’s mythology over the last 6 installments. By now much of the goodwill and fondness I (and many others) have for the first rather ingenious film has been wittled away to the point where rather than a stand-alone film or sequel in the true sense each installment has become the byword for a literal cash-in, simply setting up a “game” whereby a group of loosely connected people have to run a literal gauntlet of traps that test their wills and those of others to see who lives or dies, with the obligatory dopey detectives working in the background to discover whats going on and culminating with a final reveal that shows blows apart one of the previous films with a “twist” and a returning character.

In the years least surprising move Saw 3D follows this exact same model, albeit failing to shoe-horn the ubiquitous Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) into proceeding bar two minor flashbacks, don’t let his presence on the poster fool you this is still very much Detective Hoffman’s (Costas Mandylor) game, with most of the plot driven by his personal revenge mission against Jill Tuck, Jigsaw’s widow. Something which leaves the whole game aspect out in the cold, it presents us with the requisite traps in abundance but no semblance of why anyone would go to all this hassle for seemingly insignificant people, led by a supposed Jigsaw survivor in Sean patrick Flannery.

So to the traps, and it is the presence of these over plot or acting that audiences seem to flock to the cinema year on year, thing is they now seem rather old and monotonous along with the rest of the film’s elements. at one stage they were designed to teach the victim a lesson whereas now they are designed purely to shower us with blood and guts in the most laughable way, in that sense it has lost all power to shock or scare (as the first film had the skill to do) meaning all that remains is the reaction of “eww, that’s gross” in the same way you would in a gross-out comedy, surely this is a low-point for a horror film reduced to below-par comedies!

The saving grace is the fact that this does somewhat conclude the series in a satisfying whole, a hard feat considering how trampled the mythology has become in 7 years. To say Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes) returns is hardly a spoiler, and given his lack of presence throughout you just know he is key to giving us some closure, the brief glimpses at he and Jigsaw  will help you hark back to the original’s ingenuity and may even gain some of that goodwill back though in killing of Jigsaw, in Saw III, which seemed a courageous move at the time hasn’t paid dividends and makes you wonder if he had been kept as the villain throughout there may have at least been a charismatic character amongst all the blood-letting.

While 3D films are ten-a-penny now it is rather important to draw attention to the 3D in Saw 3D given it is the title, the publicity would have you believe we are to be picked up by Jigsaw and strapped into a chair, I can’t say this was ever an expectation of mine (I’m not quite that gullible) but something more immersive than what’s on offer would’ve been nice, as it is we are given blood splatters and chain flying at the screen with the usual credits sequence that utilises the technique more than anything else in the film, in that respect Saw: the Final Chapter would have been a lot more palatable, and appropriate…thankfully!

VERDICT

As a stand-alone film it is simply more (weak) excuses to splatter and dismember countless, faceless victims, except the entertainment value has now all but gone., thankfully in its conclusion of a limping franchise Saw 3D is satisfying for around 15 minutes, …I wouldn’t count out a reboot though!

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