Saw 3D/Saw: The Final Chapter (Saw VII)

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"... you survived "

Oct 31st, 2010

I've dedicated a lot of time to the Saw franchise. I had watched the previous six entries multiple times. I sat through two seasons of Scream Queens (the second season was a true test of endurance) as well as a couple of shoddy video games. After a complete trouncing at the box office (by Paranormal Activity) it was announced Saw VII would be the last (in 3D no less) and that Jigsaw would be finally laid to rest.

To say I was a tad excited would be understating it. What I hadn't expected once the credits began to roll that this last entry was to affect my Fandom to Saw more than any other flick in the franchise.

With this being the last film in the franchise the main bulk of this review may descend into bit of a rant about the series in general so expect spoilers for every film that has come before this.Let the games begin. Saw VII is not the worst film in Jigsaw's canon (Saw 5 continues to hold that title) but it's a decidedly average affair. For a final entry it's a little anticlimactic and I can see how many a fan could come away more than a little disappointed.

Carrying on where 6 ended the concluding focus sets up a battle between the surviving apprentices Jill and Hoffman. I had been salivating at the prospect of these two finally going head to head (the last movies little skirmish was only a taster) but the decision was made to reduce the characters screen time in favour of another game involving the unworthy. Bobby is our main protagonist who finds himself at the centre of one final game after falsely identifying himself as a survivor of Jigsaw.

Being a big Saw fan I kept up with all the information regarding the sequels as and when they hit. Originally there were plans for a 2-part spectacular to finish the series but after poor box office returns on part 6 (they say poor but it still made a mint in profits) both planned films were combined into one final hurrah. Unfortunately this approach makes things a little disjointed and you can almost see the seams where two separate scripts have been woven together.

Bobby's game has next to no connection to the battle for Jigsaw's crown and any sequence of traps really could have been supplemented in its place and had the same impact. With such little connection to the overall Saw mythology it's rather irritating that Hoffman and Jill's showdown is limited to a rushed 15minute climax rather than taking centre stage.

To hammer home that this is the final flick we get a couple of cameos from previous cast members that weren't hacked to pieces. This is a great idea and it's commendable that the producers even bothered to reward the audience with such fan service (especially the person returning in the opening sequence) but it's a small portion of the film they fail to capitalise on. I like the idea of a person trying to capitalise on a survivor's fame but wouldn't it have been more fun if Hoffman's final game involved erasing all the survivors of the previous movies. The introduction of new characters at this stage leaves little room for development as much needs to be covered for the conclusion. The only major difference between the victims this time out is whether they were men or women.

As you can guess the cast of this film are absolutely terrible and deliver the most cringe worthy line readings. The Saw franchise has never been one for great performances (bar Tobin Bell) but it was as if they were trying to out ham one another. The dialogue is laughable only saved by the fact that it's so bad its good a phrase I should not be using in regards to Saw. What about our saving grace, Tobin Bell? He has one 2 minute sequence to tie him to the Bobby character (as well as a fleeting appearance in the twist ending). His scenes could have been exercised from the film for all the impact and relevance they had.

The entire prospect and reasoning behind the final game is also quite a let-down. At this point in the sequels people have been captured for minor transgressions and pretending to be a victim to make money seems a valid enough reason but once we look at the bigger picture it goes against Jigsaw's moral outlook on life.

The original intentions of the games were to make people appreciate life. Bobby may have lied but his life is better for it, he has a new wife, lots of money and he's helping others. In fact he is also spreading Jigsaw's message without the need for mutilating people. This makes the whole game come off as petty revenge on John Kramer's part. If this was an attempt to really vilify the Jigsaw legacy as misguided it fails especially considering the ending (we'll get to that).

This film has the most number of traps in any of the movies and to be honest all but two are average fare (the car and throat trap).This time out most of the victims are innocent pawns (unlikeable but innocent) where no one really deserves death. Bobby's lawyer spreads his lies, His P.A speaks too much, and his friend kept his secrets.

Each and every one of the above can be levied at John Kramer in crafting his legacy. The idea that the characters are innocent should create a little more tension in our desire for them to escape but they are painted as villainous. The only real villains are a couple of racists which include Scream Queens 2 winner Gabby which are unrelated to the main game.

The short showdown we do get to see is fun but fails to live up to its potential. Jill's brief appearances in the franchise made her ambiguous and the implications of how she was connected were greatly exaggerated. This final movie changes her character into a hapless victim as she runs and screams like the countless females of horror before her. It's disappointing.

Hoffman is fully realised as a super villain as he lays waste to people not only as the Jigsaw killer but through physical encounters. It's fun to watch but its far closer to the Terminator franchise as he endlessly slaughters those in his way. It's as if the horror/thriller design of the franchise was dropped for the conclusion.

As with most of the Saw films this one has a twist ending which unfortunately is telegraphed from the opening scenes. I won't give it away here but it's a satisfying resolution even if you manage to figure it out. It's defiantly illogical if you try real world reasoning. The mythology of the franchise was fragile at best, all the retcons have finally taken its toll. The Saw franchise doesn't make sense.

The 3D sucked in a way I didn't think possible (that's from the cinema release I can't comment on the home version). The producers of Saw wanted us to know the effect was implemented properly by letting us know that it was filmed with state of the art technology (and not converted later like a lot of the crap 3D out there). My question is where was it? The initial titles were in 3D and then it just disappeared. The extra ticket cost was not worth it and I felt as if I was being punished for being a fan of the series. Another side effect of the 3D was in certain scenes portions of the screen were out of focus; I have finally experienced suffering at the hands of Jigsaw.

The problem with this film is that there are moments of greatness sprinkled throughout that are never capitalised on. The best example of this is the trap that takes place outside. It's a thrilling experience that adds new life to the proceedings only to be dropped immediately. It's such an abstract moment that feels like it was shot so it could be dumped in the trailers all the traps should have been like this and they should have tied into the story.

Although from this review it seems I hated this film but I didn't. The reactions of the audience were great and it was fun laughing and cringing at the cheesiness of the scenes. This is an average slice of Saw which is hit harder because it's supposedly the last. Expectations were higher and I think it suffered from the same problems the Lost franchise had. Too many questions so few answers.

If there is another film (and with the open endedness here I have no doubt Jigsaw will be back) I know I'll go and see it but not with the anticipation that I used to. Every Halloween I have a marathon of the Saw films but no more, I will take the films for what they really are, through away pulp. 4/10

Had the longest pre-production schedule of any Saw film (crap 3D bumps up the process)
Tobin Bell worked with the writers to hone his character for a 2 minute cameo?
Gabby West won her role in this film through Scream Queens, just like Tanedra Howard did in Saw VI (pointless role, she screams and dies season 2 was a waste of air time)

Director: Kevin Greutert
Screenplay: Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunston
Released: 2010
Rating: 18
Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Tanedra Howard, Betsy Russell, Carey Elwes

Other reviews in the series

Saw II
Saw IV
Saw V
Saw VI

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