SAW THE FINAL CHAPTER (Kevin Greutert)
(Alternate title: SAW 3D)
The SAW franchise finally comes to a close. Love it or hate it, SAW has made a significant impact in the gratuitous violence subgenre of horror, and with it the franchise’s antihero Jigsaw becomes an instant classic character— thanks to the macabre portrayal of Tobin Bell, who will always be remembered for this defining role.
There’s nothing like the first time watching the first SAW movie, where the viewer is totally clueless, and then comes that final twist where Jigsaw makes himself known to his victims, and to the audience. The sequels tried to capture the intensity of the first SAW movie, and most of them made up for the lack of enigma with heightened onscreen violence.
In this seventh and last instalment (please do not make a SAW prequel!) the plot takes off shortly after the final moments of the sixth film. Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) barely makes it out alive after being trapped by Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell) in a head contraption. Now Hoffman is all pissed and is after Jill.
In a parallel plot, a self-proclaimed Jigsaw survivor named Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery) becomes the latest individual to be put to the test, and in still another related story, Hoffman settles the score with a cop bent on catching him.
For what it’s worth, SAW 7 still delivers the level of blood and guts and severed body parts that you’d expect. As an added bonus, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park gets “jigsawed”, though I’m not sure how that subplot is necessary in the movie.
SAW 7 is way much better than its horrible immediate predecessor, and the final moments of this finale film are intense enough to fittingly close the franchise. There are still non sequiturs here (as to be expected in just about every horror movie) and I didn’t particularly like how one of the major characters met a tragic fate at the end (I am not going to spoil who, but fans of the series already know who that is) but the revival of an old character and making it the moral weight of the movie is good enough.
I did not understand the relevance of the opening sequence at first. Usually, Jigsaw tests are held in closed spaces, with few or no witnesses. This time, it was held like a public execution in front of countless onlookers, and I believe this may be a mirror of the audience’s penchant for gratuitous torture entertainment. In a way, SAW deconstructs itself.
I did have a good time watching the seven SAW films, through all the blood, torture, and moral impositions, and I believe Jigsaw stands as a reminder that the distinct line between good and evil may in fact be an illusion, and in order to make it surface we have to be reminded of the reason why we are doing what we are doing. Jigsaw is the proverbial antihero, who despite all of the world’s bullshit managed to retain a conscience and a moral barometer. Her apprentice Amanda (Shawnee Smith, who got killed in the third movie) did not have either a conscience, or a moral barometer. Hoffman had potential, but lost himself along the way.
This is a film franchise with memorable characters and themes so universal sooner or later some pretentious filmmaker is going to copy them. I’m not a fan of the horror genre, but SAW definitely gave said genre some respect it deserves.