Saw 3D

Saw 3D

*

Reviewed by: David Graham

It's hard to believe a horror franchise that killed off its villain in the 3rd instalment has reached a 7th entry, the 3D factor conveniently allowing them to drop the by now embarrassingly unimaginative chapter indicator. At least Jason Voorhees had the good sense to mix it up a little after his supposedly final 4th-film demise, with the Friday The 13th series embracing outlandish suffixes and diversions into copycat killings, telekinesis, possession and even sci-fi.

The Saw series has been a box-office juggernaut, brutishly having its way with our cinematic Hallowe'en every year since its 2004 inception. Depending on your stance, each entry is either reassuringly familiar - if it ain't broke, blah blah blah - or crushingly predictable, representing the absolute nadir of its genre and the place to wholeheartedly lay the blame for the lamentable 'torture porn' boom that has blighted and buggered the slim chance of respectability horror had 10 years ago. At least, thanks to the unexpected success of last year's sleeper sucker punch Paranormal Activity, this one is meant to be the last. Ahem...

Copy picture

The story (ahem, again) involves a self-help guru (B-movie acolyte Sean Patrick Flanery) riding the coat-tails of Jigsaw's suffering. His self-help groups entertain notions of the survivors' feelings of increased self-worth - a sort of Stockholm Syndrome in reverse - which are toyed with in such flippant fashion as to be both laughably melodramatic and offensively naive. Martyrs this most certainly ain't. Needless to say, the presumption of this would-be Oprah of sadism lands him in one of Jigsaw and co's patented booby-trap minefields, where his circle of hangers-on are caught in life-or-death situations designed to hold a mirror up to his facile existence. Meanwhile, the killer's twisted legacy is turning its purveyors on one another as Dean Armstrong does his worst Christian Bale as the cop trying to put an end to the whole sordid and sorry business.

The convoluted back-story that has evolved with each instalment is referred to regularly in highly cliched flashbacks - newly shot and to older films - that give the movie a TV-show feel, further compounded by how brightly lit all of the sets are. Whether this is to combat the darkening inherent to the Real-D filming process, or to highlight the viscera being sprayed all over the veritable butcher's shop sets, the effect is to completely eradicate any menace that such grimy interiors might have had. The 3D effect is negligible other than a few split-second splashes of human debris here and there, and even though some of the trademark traps end in messily macabre deaths for multiple victims, there's absolutely no reason to care, as none of them are fleshed out at all.

Even Chester Bennington from Linkin Park gets short shrift, popping up from out of nowhere as the leader of a racist troupe who all get their comeuppance simultaneously in the most spectacularly gruesome scene. Most of the acting is hilariously earnest, but Cary Elwes is reliably camptastic in a cameo that makes his OTT turn six years ago seem positively Oscar-worthy. However, there's little of the wickedly sardonic humour of, say, the Final Destination series, and the Hostel films at least squeezed some subversion out of their stereotype-skewering and a modicum of excitement out of their eventual shift into thriller territory.

Where the first film had at least an ingeniously contained if unlikely scenario and a handful of genuinely frightening scenes (the carpark abduction, a pitch-black flat being investigated using polaroid flashes), this new offering is content to peddle the sort of over-elaborate assault courses of death that should only work in videogames. Director Kevin Greutert seems to be aiming to illict whoops instead of winces; the opening scene's contraption has a pair of young studs punishing a girl for her infidelity to them in a way that is uncomfortably meant to be crowd-pleasing. It's actually both embarassingly homoerotic and shamefully misogynistic.

Other instances of tooth-pulling and eyeball-impaling not only invite unflattering comparison to Argento and Fulci set-pieces, they also cruelly mirror the audience's experience of watching this crud. A visit to the dentist seems like light relief afterwards, and laser surgery wouldn't begin to erase the stains of tedium this moronic garbage leaves on the retina. There's hardly any of the original's ludicrously overdriven visual flair, and the sequels at least managed to come up with some memorably excruciating executions. Even Charlie Clouser's score is thuddingly obvious, the one-time Nine Inch Nails cohort seemingly and understandably dialling in his contribution.

There's really not much else to say about Saw 3D. Even if you liked the previous films, this will probably be your breaking point. If the repetition doesn't leave you feeling short-changed, then the extra expense of the entirely unnecessary 3D definitely will. And if you're the sort of movie-lover who doesn't need a running commentary (unless it's from the director on the DVD), then stay as far away from this film as possible. The likely inanity of this film's target audience might just have you reaching for that chainsaw that you stashed in your bag, y'know, just to shatter the fourth wall and give the punters a fright. That's if you haven't slit your wrists or gouged out your eyeballs already. The only reason I'm not giving this zero stars is because I feel I need to save that dubious distinction for the inevitable although at present denied 8th instalment. Avoid.

Reviewed on: 31 Oct 2010
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Saw 3D packshot
A self-help guru falls foul of Jigsaw's legacy.
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