James Cameron will be remembered not for creating the computer-generated world of Pandora in his questionably popular film, Avatar, but rather for beginning a chain of events that would ultimately slaughter the idea of the conventional movie going experience. The use of 3D has not only made it difficult to see new films without paying that addition $4 charge, but it also has made it impossible to see a film that relied on original storytelling rather than this tired old gimmick. Saw 3D is no exception to this preposterous rule and the lack of thought or originality really shows through.
Perhaps it wasn’t the use of a 3D ploy that contributed to the complete failure that this seventh entry in the franchise, or at least it didn’t act alone. It could due to the fact that a new film was released every year for the past six years, thereby tiring Jigsaw’s tale of terror long ago and eliminating any possible of a unique plot.
The film opens with the scene that most will recognize from the trailer, involving two men involved in a trap in the middle of a large crowd. While this notion is intriguing, the scene is abandoned within minutes and serves no real purpose for the story. Instead, the plot, or whatever semblance of one, is centered on Bobby Dagen, who has found fame in being a survivor of one of Jigsaw’s traps. He writes books and accepts candid interviews with the sole intention of making money. He even holds a ‘Jigsaw survivors group”, of which most of the survivors are people that the audience has never seen in previous installments. The only ones recognizable are Tanedra Howard, who won her walk-on role in Saw VI from her appearance on the reality show, Scream Queens, and of course, Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes). The good doctor’s reprisal has been hyped to the limit and is undoubtedly a tactic to sure a bigger box office return against the juggernaut Paranormal Activity 2. Either way, Bobby is soon kidnapped and forced to relive his experience as one of Jigsaw’s lab rats and run around a maze for 90 minutes.
This idea of having the central character(s) explore a spooky, abandoned setting for the course of the film was first introduced in Saw II and has remained in every sequel, thus making the whole concept absurd by the second or third go-around. However, by the seventh film, and possibly the last, it might make more sense to come up with a novel narrative in the vein of the first one. Of course dollars signs always win and instead of crafting an innovative screenplay, more time and attention was spent on the use of 3D technology. As with My Soul to Take, and all the other countless 3D films, Saw 3D will seem incredibly outdated to future generations when this fad has once again run its course. Just like the “yo-yo” scene in Friday the 13th III, there are scenes included for the sole purposes of making use of the technology. While undoubtedly the visualization of blood and skull fragments rushing towards the audience is, in a sense, cool, all the special effects in the world cannot replace a great story, of which Saw 3D does not have.
The Saw films, good or bad, have always had one unique characteristic about them that set them apart from the traditional horror-fare. The first and most important thing is that have all had Tobin Bell, the main antagonist Jigsaw. Tobin is barely in this film, save for his big three minute cameo and appearance in various flashbacks from past films. Granted, his character was killed in the third film and that makes it kind of hard to keep him in every film but that feat has been accomplished in every other film until now. Also, the films have always had an interesting and well written plot that served to entertain the audience and make them think at the same time. Even more of a crucial element in the series is the “twist ending” in every film, beginning with the first one, and highly regarded as one of the greatest endings in horror film history. Saw 3D does have such an ending and thus leaves the franchise is complete and utter obscurity. Of course the film does have an “ending”, but it is completely predictable and is even expected given the rest of the plot.
This is especially true if advertisement proves correct and this film is going to the final installment. However, if the film makes money, which it is expected to do, then there will certainly more sequels to follow. There is even a plan, although more of a rumor at this point, to reboot the whole series in time for next year. Tobin Bell has even stated that he would like to see “either Bryan Cranston or Thomas Jane” as his replacement.
Sequel or reboot, the whole idea of continuing these films is a slap in the face of fans. What started out as a great little independent film, made on a shoe-string budget has morphed into this big-budget cash cow that is milked year after year without any regard for the creativity of the original film.
1 / 5 "Kills"
Note: This film was viewed locally at Rave Motion Pictures at the Metropolis Mall.