As a critic, I’m not supposed to like horror movies. Critics scoff at modern horror for its depravity and excessive bloodletting. Outside of a few instances, like this year’s The Human Centipede, I pride myself in not joining them. I like horror and I’m not ashamed to say it. The Saw franchise has been my buddy for the last six years and when asked about their quality, I always defended them. I would recommend each and every one, except for Saw 3D. Director Kevin Greutert, after being forced off Paranormal Activity 2 to direct this movie based on a clause in his contract, compared the move to being “raped by your dad.” While it’s not quite as bad as that (I imagine), it sends the series off with a fizzle rather than a bang.
As everybody should know by now, Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is dead, but his work goes on with the help of Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). However, at the end of the sixth movie, it seemed his help was no longer needed because he found himself in a trap thanks to Jigsaw’s wife, Jill (Betsy Russell). Though it was supposed to be inescapable, he somehow made it out and that is where Saw 3D begins. Jill, fearful of what Hoffman may now do to her, confides in the police and reveals who Hoffman really is. So now, the entire police force, led by Detective Gibson (Chad Donella) is off to find him. Meanwhile, Jigsaw’s latest victim, Bobby (Sean Patrick Flannery) finds himself in an elaborate maze, not unlike the previous movies, where he must inflict pain on himself to save those close to him.
The Saw franchise requires a lot of leaps of faith. If you begin to pick it apart, it will easily crumble. You can predict human nature to a certain extent, but you can’t to the extent shown in these movies. Nothing would ever play out the way it does, but I’ve always looked past that, something most audiences are aware they must do when sitting down for a horror movie. But Saw 3D is ridiculous, even by the modest standards of the franchise. To explain why would be giving too much away, so I’ll refrain from doing so, but it all leads up to the dumbest, most predictable ending of any of the Saw films, which, unfortunately, concludes the entire story.
If the above quote is any indication, it seemed like director Kevin Greutert simply didn’t have his heart in the production. Saw 3D is the most sluggish, boring entry to date and the lack of interest comes across in nearly every facet, including the writing (one of the “games” requires Bobby to pull out two of his teeth, a game the guys in Jackass 3D did just for fun). A big part of a director’s job is to direct his or her actors and Greutert's egregious laziness keeps him separated from his cast, all of whom give fairly bad performances. Even the veterans who have appeared in the previous movies are notably weak, except for Tobin Bell.
I think it’s safe to say that Jigsaw is now one of the biggest horror icons of all time. He deserves to be right alongside the likes of Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger and Bell’s chilling portrayal of the man is the main reason why. As far as horror icons go, Jigsaw has the most personality of them all and Bell plays him in a way that shows the frightening lack of morality behind his skin. He kills people, but claims not to by giving them a way out. He thinks he’s doing them a favor, when he’s really putting them through Hell. He is all that and more.
But you won’t see him here. Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, who have penned the story since the fourth movie, foolishly write him out, giving him an extremely limited screen time with only one true scene that fails to expand on his story the way the previous movies have.
While it has been a roller coaster ride for the Saw series—some have most certainly been better than others—this is the biggest step down, going from what is arguably the best to what is clearly the worst. Jigsaw deserved a better send-off and if this truly is the last installment as the studio has said, then a once great franchise has, sadly, been ruined.
Saw 3D receives 1.5/5