Saw VII 3D Directed by: Kevin Greutert Cast: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Sean Patrick Flannery, Chad Donnella Running Time: 1 hr 50 mins Rating: R Release Date: October 29, 2010
PLOT: In this final film from the horror franchise, a man (Flannery) faces Jigsaw's (Bell) wrath when he becomes a successful writer who lies about having survived one of the serial killer's elaborate torture traps. At the same time, Jigsaw apprentice Hoffman (Mandylor) is trying to conclude the work while being chased by an old ally on the police force named Gibson (Donella).
WHO'S IT FOR? This gnarly finale is for those who already care about Jigsaw and Co. before even considering to check this one out. Saw VII 3D is not the ideal random selection when it comes to making a trip to the movies.
EXPECTATIONS: I've only missed one Saw film. My relationship with the franchise is akin to the one we all have with that douchebag family member we only see during the holidays. Every year, I give the franchise a little attention (I've reviewed Saw V and Saw VI for The Scorecard Review), in hope that the newest film doesn't suck. Now, it's like the family member is being sent into space, and I've been invited to have one last run-in with the person. I could do one more, if just for the sake of rounding off our weird relationship. And metaphors aside, I was most curious about the idea of Jigsaw putting a trap outside. Would it be a slight breath of fresh air, even for just a moment? I also wrote "Top 7 Other Reasons Why 3D Sucks" in anticipation of what looked like would be another bad moment for 3D.
Tobin Bell as Jigsaw: The actor that helped start this whole mess is given top billing in the credits, but is not on-screen for more than a five minute total. His most striking moment is his 8 Mile impersonation, which features him wearing a backwards cap, and trying to look like creepy while dressing up like a skater punk. This might have provided a giggle, but Jigsaw is still not in the center of the Saw stories anymore. It's Hoffman's show now. Score: 3
Costas Mandylor as Hoffman: I'm sticking by my Saw V review when I say that Hoffman looks like "a fat Brendan Fraser." This time, though, Fatty Fraser has got even more rage pumping through his body, especially when he makes a surprising visit to his point of origin in the third act. Score: 2
Sean Patrick Flannery as Bobby: The former Boondock Saint did plenty of screaming in those two movies, which must have served as his audition for the howling he does here. Having a man profit from pretending to be a victim of Jigsaw is interesting, but the story fails to take this premise beyond the usual track – making Bobby watch people die in a course of real torture. Score: 4
Chad Donella as Gibson: It wouldn’t be fair to compare his performance to Chris Klein’s infamous Street Fighter cop character, but there are times when Donella’s acting flirts too aggressively with such a prestigious position. His performance is all scowls and trying to deliver macho backtalk with a bit of gravel in the throat. It doesn’t work. Score: 2
TALKING: Rubbing it in our face that this movie was clearly written in a weekend, the script is full of first-draft dialogue. With a straight face, Gibson says, “You’re crazier than a sack of cats.” Score: 1
SIGHTS: One can only imagine how distracting a horror movie can be when it looks like its using blood of the wrong color (it's more pink than red). Many times, characters were not splattered in real gore, but instead my grandmother’s (delicious) Kansas Turkey sauce. And gee whiz, the 3D is terrible. During the many times I wrote down “3-D sucks” while watching the film, I took off my glasses to see what I was doing. The image before me was quite clear, without much fuzz. And, the high definition quality gives a strong realism to the image, thus making it more obvious just how cheap this sucker is. Score: 3
SOUNDS: It wouldn’t be a torture movie with lots of screaming, some of it goofier than others (a blonde publicist has the most amusing one). And for all three people that stay till the end of credits, the main theme from all of the Saw movies indeed plays at the end. Score: 5
BEST SCENE: Someone in my theater gasped when Person B didn't catch a device-thwarting key thrown by person A. It was a great example of the only type of fear that works now in a Saw movie.
ENDING: "Game over."
QUESTIONS: Didn't Dead Snow prove that large intestines can no longer be used without a wink of comedy? And also, just who is making all of these traps? Are these left over from Jigsaw's blueprints? Is Hoffman taking on the entire cause and picking/stalking victims himself? How do Jigsaw/Hoffman decide which torture rooms get high-definition televisions and which don't?
REWATCHABILITY: This isn't the worst Saw movie, but that doesn't give it any more of a revisit value. It just means it wouldn't be as painful as seeing Saw VI a second time.
The rust settled on the Saw about three films ago, but the damn things haven’t stopped spinning … yet. The seventh film of the franchise runs the typical Saw circle and its attempts at diversion from the path are weak. Finally, Jigsaw takes his horror-show public, but the opening sequence, which involves three dumb teenagers and three saws is hammy (a real shocker) and with a lame premise. And the implementation of a main character who preys on the sensation of Jigsaw is slightly refreshing, but it only works as a character feature – not as a compelling scenario for which this movie can possibly get any better. While other horror franchises suffer from their own redundancy, Saw proudly stands as one of the laziest of its kind. At least Jason Voorhees got out of Crystal Lake a few times. Hell, that killer even went to space.
It’s been clear for a while that the most brainpower for a Saw movie goes into the elaborate contraptions meant to give a now desensitized audience a few seconds of gross-out amusement. The rest of the thought of Saw is hard to be seen, especially with its overall TV-movie quality. Is this really a mainstream, weekend-dominating Hollywood release, or a bloody episode of some cop/killer drama on cable?
Saw VII does not leave its audience without dumping a couple of surprises on them, which I consider to be a thoughtful gesture. Especially considering that not everyone watches these movies in hope of seeing Blonde A get impaled by a mega-spike car. It's kind of the writers to offer a little ribbon on their bloody little package that answers a huge plot hole running throughout the series.
Still, Saw VII’s best quality is that its finale-mindset indicates that the series is offering to shut itself off.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10