Horror film hits rock bottom
November 4, 2010
If the seventh installment really is the final “Saw,” then the series has gone out on a low note.
“Saw 3-D” isn’t just bad, it’s comically bad – as if the producers realized they had run out of ideas and resorted to self-parody instead. When a brutal horror movie makes you laugh more than you scream, then you know it’s time to move on.
The plot of “Saw 3-D” picks up shortly after the events of “Saw VI.” Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), sporting Joker-style facial scars after narrowly escaping one of his own traps, continues to hunt Jigsaw’s widow, Jill (Betsy Russell). Meanwhile, a Jigsaw survivor (“Boondock Saints” star Sean Patrick Flanery) tours the talk show circuit with a book detailing his horrific ordeal.
I feel sorry for anyone dragged to this movie without having seen the rest of the series. More than most other long-running horror franchises, the “Saw” movies share a strong sense of continuity. Unless you’ve been following these movies each year, you’ll find the plot hopelessly complex. Only long-time fans need apply.
Because of the extreme violence in “Saw 3-D,” it will only appeal to those who can appreciate the technicality of movie gore. The MPAA Rating Board warns of “sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture,” but I don’t think that adequately describes just how rude this movie is.
Dismemberment and mutilations are filmed with almost surgical detail, with many shots lingering on the gruesome aftermath for intolerable lengths of time.
The only thing that comes close to entertaining in this movie is the acting, or, more specifically, the lack thereof. The “Saw” series has never been blessed with quality performances, but the acting in “Saw 3-D” is remarkably bad even by the series’ low standards. However, I must applaud “Final Destination” alumnus Chad Donella for at least trying to have fun with the atrocious material. I say skip the horror movies, this guy needs to go into comedy.
A big part of the advertising for “Saw 3-D” is that the extra dimension will somehow make “the traps come alive.” Several of the trailers even show members of a fake audience getting strapped to their chairs to, I assume, get tortured to death. I assure you that no one was tortured during the screening I attended, save for the mental torture of sitting through an hour and a half of gimmicky 3-D effects.
This movie is a great example of what not to do with 3-D technology. It’s stuck on the old-school philosophy that 3-D means throwing stuff at the audience to get them to flinch.
The new school of 3-D filmmaking is all about immersion and adding depth to scenes. Apparently no one working on “Saw 3-D” got the memo. What little 3-D effects the movie has are limited to bits of CGI blood and intestinal matter flying at the screen.
I imagine the decision to shoot in 3-D was primarily a financial one. The “Saw” movies were once cash cows for distributor Lionsgate, but the series has failed to bring in the same level of box office bucks in recent years.
The gross domestic box office returns for “Saw VI” dropped over 50 percent compared to “Saw V.” The higher ticket prices demanded by a 3-D release should help to counteract this reduction in profitability, but it’s obviously more of a last-ditch attempt for more money than an artistic choice.
The “Saw” series certainly had a good run. To chug out seven movies in as many years is no small feat, and for that it will be remembered. Just don’t remember it for the colossal misstep that is “Saw 3-D.”
Michael Brun is an alumnus of UW-River Falls.