Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:
Saw 3D (2010)
Right up front I'm going to have to apologize if this ends up sounding exactly like my review of "Saw VI" from last year. At this point, it's really hard to distinguish one from the other with each new sequel being exactly like the last one. For this review, I even considered just taking my "Saw VI" review and crossing out a name and a minor plot point or two and replacing them with the current ones as the story and flaws have pretty much stayed the same, but this is supposedly the last chapter of the series and one final chance to write about it, so let's just jump into it.
"Saw 3D" starts off by showing us that Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes) managed to survive his encounter with Jigsaw from the very first film. It then introduces two parallel story lines. One involves Jigsaw's wife, Jill (Betsy Russell), revealing to the police that Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) has been the one carrying on Jigsaw's work. In return for this information, she gets police protection as they try to hunt him down.
Meanwhile, another Jigsaw-type game is being played out by a best-selling author, Bobby (Sean Patrick Flanery), who has falsely claimed to have survived a Jigsaw trap. He must face four challenges (sound familiar?) in an effort to save his friends and wife who are all confined in the latest implements of torture devised by Jigsaw and Hoffman.
So here is the supposed "final chapter" of the worst horror franchise in history, and presented in many theaters in 3D no less, but luckily I didn't have to suffer this in an extra dimension. Two dimensions were quite enough. Once again, there are many, many, many buckets of blood to be had because that's obviously what the makers of these films think it takes to make a decent horror movie nowadays.
You have to wonder about the mental health of the people who write movies like this, people who spend their time coming up with the most gruesome ways possible to kill a human being. Just to give a few examples from the film: gouged eyes/brain, tearing skin from various places, ripping off body parts, and one of the Saw franchise's personal favorites, the old snapping jaw.
It really makes you appreciate just how good some of the older horror films are. Having recently rewatched John Carpenter's "Halloween," it's very clear that great horror films can be made without gratuitous gore and torture. It's sad to think that an entire generation probably thinks that garbage like the "Saw" sequels (I still maintain that the first film is decent) and the "Hostel" films are what constitute horror.
Turning back to this most recent entry, it does what basically all the recent entries have done. They, of course, forcefully squeeze Tobin Bell back into the story as Jigsaw, who finally died off in Part III (I think, though it's hard to remember/care at this point) and once again, the filmmakers ruin the ending of the film, this time by starting off with the scene of Dr. Gordon escaping his trap, so it's quite clear what's going to happen by the end of the film.
I have said that it is the "supposed" final chapter because it seems unlikely that the studio would let such a large cash cow go. Sure the series has been underperforming at the box office, hopefully from people finally realizing how bad they are, but they always end up making money nonetheless. This one even made a little extra because of the 3D. At this point, we can only hope they are being serious about this being the final entry in this terrible series. Then again, looking back at the far-superior "Friday the 13th" franchise, do you remember what happened after "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter?" Six more sequels, a crossover, and a reboot.
Have we seen the last of "Saw?" It's possible, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if there was more mutilation in the works. If only the people behind this series would watch some of the older horror films to discover what makes them good. Although, after six clones of the same film, it seems unlikely that they'll ever be able to figure it out. 0/4 stars.