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The F*cking Black Sheep: Saw: The Final Chapter

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

SAW: THE FINAL CHAPTER

DIRECTED BY KEVIN GREUTERT (2010)

I’ll be real with you guys, I am not the biggest fan in the world of the SAW franchise. In fact, there are later several chapters I never even bothered to witness. Perhaps it’s because of this that I find myself in the sole position of mildly defending what most deem the F*cking Black Sheep of the franchise, the cheekily gimmicky SAW 3D: THE FINAL CHAPTER. I just caught this one for the first time the other night, and I have to say, I didn’t hate it. I actually kind of dug it. Now, there are a few qualifying caveats to that statement. First off, I’m not talking about the 3D version per se, as I’ve not seen the film projected three-dimensionally. I also can’t speak to the tie-ins, through-lines, gory connective tissue and story continuity that may or may not have carried over to the seventh chapter. I can only judge the film as a standalone that’s tangentially related to the original. Again, I’m no Jigsaw expert!

Yet with all those parameters set, yes, I had a pretty damn good time watching SAW: THE FINAL CHAPTER and its wild kill-contraptions. Is it a great film? Oh god no. But is it so bad it all but discontinued the franchise (until this Friday with the return of JIGSAW that is)? Again, I think not. That said, let’s get into why SAW: THE FINAL CHAPTER isn’t quite the F*cking Black Sheep everyone remembers it as!

One of the things I immediately appreciated about the seventh SAW is how it brought back a few original characters. The flick opens with Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes) from the first film, dragging his bloodily severed leg across the boiler-room before cauterizing the wound on a scorching steam-pipe. This instantly rang familiar in terms of character, but also registered a bit campy in tone, doing so in a manner that let you know that this would be a slightly lighter, sillier, almost 80s style guilty pleasure (what with the FRIDAY THE 13TH IV subtitle THE FINAL CHAPTER and all). The rest of the film bore that out to be the case as well. In terms of other recurring characters, it’s always nice to lay eyes on the gorgeous Betsy Russell as Jill, and regarding Costas Mandylor as Hoffman, his well deserved grisly comeuppance also came off as quite pleasurable to see.

Another thing SAW 7 does well – and to be fair, the entire franchise relies on this – is how most of the victims of Jigsaw’s elaborate death-traps more or less have it coming. Cue the so called protagonist in VII, Sean Patrick Falnnery’s Bobby Dagen, a purported survivor of Jigsaw’s torturous wrath. This fraudulent huckster has been selling a memoir and emceeing a support group for fellow survivors, shamelessly making money off of other people’s pain. Oh but it doesn’t last. In a purely poetic way, Dagen is ultimately treated to the same death-mode he claimed to have already suffered in the past, namely having meat hooks pierced through his pectorals before being hoisted up and put through the ringer. Worse yet, he must witness the death of the one gal who has his heart, his wife Joyce (Gina Holden), as she’s charred to a cinder inside a flaming centrifuge. Jigsaw and his acolytes alike, the most magnanimous of torture artists!

Really though, and this is where the SAW franchise aligns quite comparably to that of FINAL DESTINATION, the main reason we watch these flicks is to see how crazily creative the death-strokes can become. To this end, there’s no coincidence Chad Donella (Tod from FINAL DESTINATION) was cast in THE FINAL CHAPTER. Furthermore, SAW 7 has no shortage of extreme and exorbitant forms of death. It starts with the pre-title sequence when a pair of cheated-on youngsters must seesaw their way toward helping a two-timing young lass who suspended directly above, with the result ultimately leaving the girl foully disemboweled with intestinal rain following suit. Nasty!

Of course, perhaps one of the all time crowning death-traps comes during the garage sequence, where a quartet of fatalities gets exacted in one fell swoop. First off, RIP Chester Bennington, the igniter in chief who sets the trap in motion, leading to a girl getting her head squashed to bloody oblivion, another dude getting both arms torn off, yet another dude getting crushed by the car-frame, all of which leading to the driver’s grotesque demise when flying into the hood of another vehicle all together. It’s lovely! Actually, this idea was to be originally featured in an early franchise entry, but was always deemed too brutal to film. Thankfully director Kevin Greutert talked the suits into allowing it to make the final cut!

Additionally, the gnarly dental sequence is nothing short of a squirm-inducing nightmare, so too is the scene where a poor girl gets three of her upper orifices plugged, gouged and drilled into a gruesome pulp. On and on. My favorite of the lot just might be the way in which Jill suffers two horrifically gory deaths, one being a dream sequence where she’s dismembered limb from limb after being suspended by each. The other of course coming in reality, when Jill’s head becomes locked-up in a rusted reverse bear-trap before being quickly pulled apart until her face explodes in a resplendent cascade of glorious grue. Simply gorgeous. And not for nothing, I also dig how Hoffman - the creepy Jigsaw copycat killer (who even looks like Harry Connick Jr. of the movie COPYCAT) finally gets his just desserts as well, at the hand of Dr. Gordon no less. Talk about full circle!

I could wax on about what a guilty pleasure SAW: THE FINAL CHAPTER struck me as, knowing full well the story inconsistencies and confounding subplots don’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense…but I’ll refrain for now. SAW 7 is neither a great film, nor even among the upper echelon of franchise chapters. But you know what, it’s not the franchise killing (or franchise suspending I suppose) entry it may have been initially received as. I liked the movie far more than I expected to, and frankly, that’s good enough to label it more than a forgettable F*cking Black Sheep of a franchise faux-finale!

GET SAW: THE FINAL CHAPTER ON DVD HERE

GET SAW: THE FINAL CHAPTER ON BLU-RAY HERE

Extra Tidbit: Which SAW sequel is your favorite?
Source: AITH

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