Someone could argue (though probably not myself) that the supposed finale to the seemingly never-ending Saw saga, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010), is also the end of a defined horror movie era, with the franchise having been with us for the majority of the Noughties. It all started in a basement with two strangers, two hack-saws, a tape recorder and a twist ending.
While the original Saw (2004), directed by James Wan, was a solid low-fi thriller, the series has gone so far in the wrong direction over the course of a half dozen sequels that the resulting films barely even resembled their original incarnation.
Saw 3D is – we are being promised – the last in the series and picks up from where the forgettable Saw VI (2009) left off, and this last tour of the torture-rific battlefield is just as gore-stained and overblown as its predecessors. The plot sees the former survivors of homicidal genius Jigsaw band together to stop further copycat killings, while Jigsaw’s legacy reaches its completion.
For all the convolutions in the plot – and between the flashbacks, subplots and set-pieces – the only original thing in this film is the ingenuity of the traps, and there are some particular nasty ones in store. The extremity of violence is to be expected and if that’s what you’re after, Saw 3D does not disappoint. However, if your stomach turns easily, it’s safe to say that this should be one to avoid.
As with its predecessors, the performances in Saw 3D are generally wooden, but Tobin Bell (aka Jigsaw) is generally worth a watch. His gravely vocal chords provide the same sinister charisma that carried the previous films through to being semi-watchable. Kevin Greutert’s direction is by-the-numbers while the plot is half-baked. Yet somehow, it ends up a pretty enjoyable experience with considerable kinetic power and vicious energy supported by the occasional inventive death. It would be fair to say that this is one of the better Saw films in the franchise, ending the story of Jigsaw and his twisted life philosophy on a high note and one final twist for old time’s sake. However, the 3D element is just a gimmick on top of that and adds nothing more than a splash of superficial shocks.
Seeing as this is the end (finally), I can safely say looking back at the Saw series that it was an uneven rollercoaster of frenetic thrills and repulsive violence, whilst occasionally springing the odd surprise. If you like a healthy dollop of blood, incomprehensible plot convolutions cut together in a flashy editing style with an overly emphatic music score, Saw 3D will do the trick. It is, at the very least, good, gruesome fun for Halloween, but it’s certainly not going to convert any nay-sayers.