Tick Reviews – Saw 3D (2010)
In the immortal words of Henry Rollins, I’m a liar. At the very least, I’m a hypocrite. At the very worst I’m part of the reason most horror movies are shit. Just a few weeks after My review of I Sell The Dead (https://thereservoirblogs.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/tick-reviewssort-ofi-sell-the-dead-2008/) where I eviscerate the current state of horror films, its fans and supposedly draw a line in the sand on what I will be watching, while asking like-minded horror fans to take a stand with me…….I break down and watch the latest chunk of flotilla from that cinematic abortion that is the Saw series. Yep, I am apparently that guy that is all bitch and no action with the flip-flopping moral stance that’s as shaky as Michael J Fox on a tilt-a-whirl. And yet….I feel only the slightest smidgen of shame because I have a few weaknesses in this genre and unfortunately Saw is one of them.
Now, that’s not to say I like the Saw movies. Quite the opposite, actually. I loathe them. I think they’re maybe the worst franchise in film history and the epitome of everything that’s wrong with the genre. However, they’ve become like the proverbial car crash that I just can’t turn away from. The Saw films absolutely fascinate me. They are awful in ways that have to be seen to be believed. Even better, it’s a horrifically evolving sort of awful that grows and metamorphoses in increasingly retarded ways as the series goes on. It doesn’t just get worse as it goes, it gets aggressively worse in moronically bizarre ways that defy all logic and are usually creatively bankrupt. I know I previously called out the misuse of anointing films so bad that they’re good in that last review, but Saw is the goods on this front. They’re so entertainingly horrible that you have to applaud their incompetence.
My semi-masochistic history with Saw dates back to the first instalment, which I saw in the theater. Before the first Saw came out, the hype machine on the internet would have you believe that the film was going to revolutionize the horror genre. From what was shown and said, there was no reason to doubt that. Saw looked like it was lean and nasty. It seemed far darker and more serious than anything the horror community had seen in years. It seemed to be original, boundary pushing and had a more respectable cast that you normally got (yeah, unbelievably, at the time Danny Glover, Cary Elwes and Monica Potter was respectable.) The word was this was as grim and vile as movies got. On the day it finally came out, my wife and I got to the theater to find out that the management had decided that the film was so disturbing that they wouldn’t be letting anyone in that was under twenty-one. We were shocked. Just how crazy and gory was Saw going to be? I took my seat excited and nervously anticipating what sort of genre changing assault I was about to witness.
So, imagine just how pissed off I was by the time the end credits ran. I had not witnessed an envelope pushing, genre changing, vile masterpiece. No. I had just witnessed one of the worst pieces of shit that I’d even been unfortunate enough to pay full price for in a theater. It was stale, unimaginative crap that pushed no envelopes and was actually tame not just for what it promised, but for what else was coming out in the months surrounding it. Saw made films like Hostle seem genius and daring. It was lazy, incompetent and flat-out had no balls. The story was insipid. The gore was mild. The acting was awful. It contains THE worst, most laughable bit of thespian train wreck that I’ve ever seen when Danny Glover begins to go “insane” and speak to his dead partner that isn’t there. I seriously challenge you to find a worse piece of acting in the history of cinema than this scene. You just can’t do it. Top to bottom, Saw is absolutely appalling.
So why would I ever watch another one? I don’t know. Chalk it up partially to the horror fan’s need to always give something another chance and chalk it up partially to morbid curiosity to seeing if Saw 2 could get any worse. Horror fans are half optimism and half pessimism. We’re walking contradictions that spill money and common sense in equal parts and we probably don’t have the ability to change even when we want to. Yet, we also are not only in on the joke, we’re usually several steps ahead of it. We love a shitty movie like no one else. Saw instalments have become the shitty movies to end all shitty movies and although there are mouth breathing window lickers out there that don’t get the joke and actually defend the Saw franchise, I like to think that most people are now watching these pieces of crap on an Ed Wood/Uwe Boll level. If nothing else, I know I am.
The Saw films are that bad. They’re Uwe Boll bad. They’re on the level of The Happening, Torque, the Postman, Showgirls and Waterworld. I own all of those DVDs and I will also own Saw 3D. You see, Saw 3D is the brilliant accumulation of every bone headed, incompetent, illogical thing that every other instalment of Saw has done wrong multiplied to the Nth degree. I’m going to explain why Saw 3D (actually Saw 7. Saw SEVEN. Let that really sink in) in the idiot savant in this family of Down Syndrome films and I will spoil some things because it really doesn’t matter. The film is too stupid and bug shit crazy to be able to ruin it with spoilers and most of the twists are predictable anyway. If you really don’t want to know anything going in, stop reading now. If you don’t want anything spoiled because you’re an actual fan of the Saw films and are involved in them, don’t ever read this blog again. Better yet, go tie a plastic bag around your head and pretend you’re an astronaut.
So, Saw 3D starts off with the end of Saw 6, with Detective Mark Hoffman (Costa Mandylor) surviving Jill Tuck’s (Betsy Russell) attempt to kill him. This followed immediately after he had attempted to kill her unsuccessfully. Jill is the ex-wife of John Kramer (Tobin Bell), who was the original Jigsaw, the psychotic and extremely judgmental serial killer, who’s modus operandi is to act like a third-rate James Bond villain. He’s the thoroughly uninteresting boob that the Saw films revolve around. Hoffman is the protégé of Jigsaw and now acts as the new Jigsaw because the original Jigsaw has been dead for the last four films, even though he’s been in every one of them. Hoffman is actually the third Jigsaw because the second Jigsaw has also been dead for several films because the first Jigsaw knew he couldn’t trust the second Jigsaw and secretly trained a third Jigsaw. Sound convoluted yet? We’re just getting warmed up.
Okay, so each Saw sort of centers around a main victim or victims that Jigsaw, whichever one that may be, has dropped into an elaborate trap filled maze where the victim will get a bunch of other people killed as he/she is taught valuable lessons and pays for whatever crime/sin/accident that offended Jigsaw. That offense varies from victim to victim and which Jigsaw is carrying out the punishment and which Jigsaw set up the trap and of course sometimes one Jigsaw thinks they’re in control, but it’s really another Jigsaw, so the victim may or may not be the actual victim. Each film has a different detective/special agent chasing after Jigsaw, because no cop ever survives more than one movie once they become the lead agent on the case. Unless they secretly survive only to be killed in a later movie. Or unless they’re secretly one of the Jigsaws.
SO, as we get to the new Saw, the main victim being thrown into an elaborate death filled maze is Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flannery). Bobby is one of Jigsaw’s former victims who managed to survive and escape Jigsaw’s wrath and now makes a living off of the experience as a famous author, motivational speaker and talk show guest. Only, Bobby’s lying. He made the whole story up. This is not a surprise as it’s not only telegraphed, we know after seven movies that you only survive Jigsaw’s traps if you’re really one of the secret secondary Jigsaws or they need you to come back and die in a different Saw film. Or course, Bobby, his wife and his entourage are kidnapped and placed into Jigsaw’s newest maze so he can fight for his and their lives. We see through a flashback that Bobby met the original Jigsaw at a book signing before even the first Saw film took place. So, Jigsaw one planned out Bobby’s trap six films before this happened, told Jigsaw two to carry it out four films after he died, but she died too, although that’s okay because he must have also told Jigsaw three about it as well, because Jigsaw one was always four billion steps ahead. Although, this is all conjuncture on my part since I’m not one of the secret Jigsaws, as far as you know.
Though, that could be a problem because Jigsaw three seems to be losing it. He’s far too busy killing off other people in ever complicated and now public displays of Rube Goldberg torture devices or trying to track down and kill Jigsaw One’s ex-wife. Because Jill was on board with Jigsaw One’s killing spree, but not so much with two and three. Or she didn’t like any of them. Or didn’t know and now she knows. That part is all fuzzy. Anyway, it’s okay, because as we find out, there’s also always been a FOURTH Jigsaw and he’s committed to the big picture so he makes sure Bobby and his people meet their fates. You see, Jigsaw one knew he couldn’t trust Jigsaw two, so he made sure that he had a Jigsaw three, so that after Jigsaw Two went crazy and killed Jigsaw One a trap would kill Jigsaw Two and then Jigsaw Three would take over. But he also had the foresight to know that Jigsaw Three would go crazy and kill his ex-wife, which would in turn activate Jigsaw Four to kill Jigsaw Three and become the main Jigsaw, at least until he goes crazy.
You have to assume that Jigsaw one is so smart that he has a Jigsaw Five in waiting to take over at some point, which is pretty cool since there was a point where there were at least three Jigsaws operating at one time without any of them noticing what was going on. I’m not sure how three fucking nutjobs all kidnapping people and murdering them in huge trap filled mazes at the same time while all thinking they’re they only Jigsaw can happen. Apparently they never see a TV or read a paper or run into each other at the Jigsaw union hall. You think you’d hear about the other murders and think “Hey! I didn’t do that one. There must be another Jigsaw.” Doesn’t matter. Now there’s a fourth one.
So who is Jigsaw Four? Well, that would be Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) who was one of the two original victims from the first Saw that died. That clearly died. That they have reiterated several times in many movies that this guy absolutely died. Only he didn’t die. He was recruited by Jigsaw One to join his crew. Because that’s what you do when you’re a super successful, rich surgeon that has been kidnapped by a maniac that’s forced you to cut off your own foot with a dirty hacksaw and presumably murdered your wife. You realize that you’re a dick and start murdering people at his bidding. It makes perfect sense.
So, all the cop characters die AGAIN. Another victim escapes AGAIN. A new Jigsaw steps up as the old one dies AGAIN. But that’s okay. This is the last Saw. They promised us. Cross our hearts. Pinky swear. Except…..Yeah, that scene where Jigsaw Four kidnaps Jigsaw Three…well…..there’s two other people in pig masks with him, so those must be Jigsaw Five and Six. And, Jill did get out information on Hoffman that, along with a police station massacre should cause a massive manhunt. Also, Bobby survived so he’s either yet ANOTHER Jigsaw or he needs to get killed or he needs to seek revenge on Jigsaw Four through Seventy-Two. But, this is the last Saw. At least until the straight to disc series kicks off.
As awful and stark raving stupid as that all sounds, you can’t even begin to imagine it until you see it. The Saw films have gotten more brain-dead as they’ve gone and I thought they couldn’t get any worse than Saw 6. Various tasteless assholes around the net have praised Saw 6 for having a brain because it has a thinly veiled subtext condemning insurance companies and the American health care system. By thinly veiled I mean blatheringly spelled out. Yeah, it has brains. Have you ever been to a party and listened to some ultra stoned high school dropouts telling you about, you know, like, politics and stuff and how, like, the Dali lama is, like being persecuted and stuff. It’s brainy like that. Saw 3D is worse.
Writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton aren’t the greatest writers working today. I’m pretty sure they’re near the bottom. I’m not sure how to grade them. They’re responsible for four of the Saw films, and that should get you on death row. I don’t care if you just want a paycheck or not. You can tie these ridiculous films together better than the outlandish leaps of logic and unbelievable ties that bind this garbage.They also did the Feast trilogy and The Collector which are at least entertaining and the original script for the first Feast is even better than what was filmed. They are obviously checked out by the time they got to Saw 3D. There might as well be a filmed testimonial interlude in the middle of the movie where they film themselves confessing to the audience that they just don’t care anymore. Thanks for the cash and go fuck yourselves. I’ve never seen a sequel where the writers were so glad to get it over with. I almost halfway think that they’ve been trying to sabotage the franchise since they started writing for it and that thought makes me sleep a little better at night. I won’t even mention the director since his only two important credits are Saw films. He’s obviously a non-talent.
The only thing that gets better with each passing film is the amount of gore. The first film promised untold sickness and delivered little. Yeah, I know, I also said last review that gore shouldn’t be enough for a horror film and I mean that. Mostly. It depends. Just shut up. Anyway, the gore in these damn things once you get to number seven? Tres magnifique. It’s absolutely outrageous. There are a couple of scenes that are just flat-out gross and if a hardened hardcore horror junkie like me says that, the rest of you better have a barf bag. The problem with the gore is that these deadly trap scenes have gone beyond ridiculous. There was a point early on in the series where the traps were sort of quaint and not too outrageous. At this point, they aren’t plausible by any stretch of the imagination. With the amount of money and engineering skill needed to make these contraptions, it would take the authorities a few days to track down Jigsaw because the list of suspects couldn’t be more than ten or twenty names nationwide. To make it even worse, traps are now being set up in the middle of public places that are high traffic areas. It’s finally satisfyingly sick, but it’s become so goofy that it’s on a Troma level. But, Troma taking itself seriously. Never a good thing.
And that is the biggest problem with the Saw films. They take themselves deadly serious. There is not one ounce of a sense of humor in these films. I appreciate that there are far too many jokey horror films out there, especially of the low-budget variety, but if you’re going to be serious, you also have to be at least semi-competent. Saw films never reach that level. Yet, that’s what makes these bags of shit so enjoyable to me. They are completely clueless. That’s why I have this disgusting love/hate relationship with them and, God help me, I’ll continue to watch as long as they continue crank them out. I just pray they keep getting even worse.