In its seventh and perhaps final chapter, ‘Saw’ is a dull, 3-D disaster
“Saw 3D’’ had to go there. Well, it had to try. A few body parts make their way toward you. Drops of digital blood — there’s rarely another kind anymore — float in the middle of the screen. But, if we’re to believe posters heralding a final chapter, this is a pitiful goodbye. This series never cared for filmmaking. It never cared for human life. Now it doesn’t even care for its audience or itself, scraping together the gist of the other movies, simply in order to have something to sell for Halloween.
This is both the most gruesome and least coherent of the seven movies. That’s saying something. Crucial information has somehow been written legibly on teeth that must be extracted. The victim must be taught a lesson — he’s promoting a fraudulent book about how he survived Jigsaw, the series’ killer that Tobin Bell’s been playing from the start — so no Novocain for him. How about for us? The 3-D hurts to look at. Surely, the urge to tear out our own eyes is part of the fun. These movies have made more than a half billion dollars, none of which appears to have been reinvested in the franchise. They still have the polish of a rusty nail.
It feels contractually obligated. That’s because, in part, it is. The director, Kevin Greutert, wanted to make “Paranormal Activity 2’’ but was required to stick around here. This is the movie of a man who knew what he was missing.
The dismemberment and torture are now shtick. The filmmakers — “Saw’’ veterans — struggle to imbue this movie with the usual righteousness. The heath care thread in last year’s installment suggested the series could be reborn as a vengeful jeremiad. But here we are now with those glasses, looking at the same old same-old — not to sound too jaded, but we saw death-by-crematory in an earlier episode. The entire affair reeks of desperation and spite.
Several of the “games,’’ as they’re called, are just randomly jammed into the proceedings. That episodic approach works for an equally indigestible, far more innovative series like “Jackass.’’ So does 3-D. This “Saw’’ installment seems desperate to extend the movie to a legitimate 90 minutes. In a very early sequence, a young woman is suspended above a buzz saw. Her crime was having two lovers, who now have the option to kill one another or agree to raise the saw up and eliminate her. In front of a camera-phone-wielding crowd, no less. Not much later a gang of racist punks has been rounded up and rigged for group destruction in a rusty garage. Jigsaw died of cancer a few movies ago, but flashbacks and new games, inexplicably, keep him alive. This alleged final edition trashes the perverse morality of his legacy to make him the Jerry Springer of gore.