Jesus Christ, is this really the seventh film in as many years? Yes, it’s Saw o’clock and it must be time to completely forget what made the first film so good (all over again.) While the original entry had the brilliant concept of people being placed in devious traps they had to survive in order to appreciate their lives, it was also great because it was a) relatively bloodless and b) you didn’t want to see a man cut off his foot. Every subsequent sequel has ignored that second point and been stuffed to the gills with complete bastards that the audience is supposed to want to see be tortured and die horribly. If this isn’t torture porn one step removed from snuff, then what is?
Series villain Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) died back in Saw III, only to have his work continue in the sequels by corrupt cop Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) in Saw IV. After dispatching of vengeful FBI agent Strahm in Saw V, Hoffman assumed that he would be the only one to carry on Jigsaw’s work in Saw VI. Naturally, Jigsaw had already planned ahead for this event and got his wife Jill (Betsy Russell) to place Hoffman in his own trap should Hoffman try and screw up the master plan. Hoffman miraculously survived and is now on a revenge mission, bringing him in confrontation with Internal Affairs officer Matt Gibson (Chad Donella).
Meanwhile, Bobby Dagen is enjoying the limelight, having written a self-help book about his experiences in surviving a Jigsaw trap. Only problem is, he’s lying about the entire experience. While attempting to reunite all previous survivors together in a self-help group, Bobby is kidnapped and he and his entourage are placed in a brand new game. How will it all end? If you reckon anyone is walking away from this, you’re clearly new to the Saw franchise.
If the above paragraphs made it appear as though there is a coherent story to be found in the latest Saw movie, then that is entirely the fault of the writer. The Hoffman/ Jill battle of wills takes place over roughly three scenes (two of which are at the very beginning) and immediately gets sidelined by the need to have a series of harrowingly violent deaths for no real reason. Part of the problem is that this film is two Saw movies shoved into one. Without any balance between the lengthy deaths and the more arguably more interesting revenge subplot, what’s left is an hour and twenty minutes of pointless gore broken up with people triggering flashback montages to explain plot holes. In terms of a final episode, this is more about as dramatic as an episode of Hollyoaks.
Once again, character depth is eschewed in favour of unlikable bastards who somehow deserve what’s happening to them, instead of being relatable people. This time, you can’t help but feel that Jigsaw is completely in the wrong about Bobby. Granted, he’s making money off a lie, but he’s hardly the worst person in the world – after all, he’s getting out the positive message Jigsaw himself tried to tell (cherish your life), and he’s doing it without the ludicrous amount of bloodshed. But Jigsaw seems to always get things wrong – there are people in this world who are far more evil and deserving of suffering than some bloke who wrote a self-help book based on the suffering of others. Politicians, warlords, slave owners, bankers – the list is really quite long. Nope, it’s got to be the guy who’s made a quick buck from selling a positive message.
As for the traps themselves, this film brings us a whopping eleven grizzly death scenarios, although three of them hardly count (one’s a short flashback, one’s a dream and another is pretty pointless.) Eyes get stabbed, women sawn in half, jaws ripped off, teeth yanked out and throats jabbed, all in glorious 3D. Of particular note is the opening trap, which takes place in a shopping centre in front of hundreds of people. Why is this? It’s mentioned that the three involved are airing their dirty laundry in public, but surely the real point is to spread the good word amongst more people? Why is this not remarked upon? What is the chronology of this sequence? Another key point is that the 3D technology doesn’t make much of a difference, aside from a few body parts/ saws/ bits of shrapnel that get launched towards the screen. Only a couple of the traps are designed to slowly approach the screen, so quite what the point of the use of the 3D technology was (aside from raising the price of the ticket) is another mystery entirely.
The acting is atrocious throughout, with most dialogue consisting of lengthy screams and grunts of pain. Series mainstay Tobin Bell gets roughly thirty seconds of screen time (bring a stopwatch, it’s probably less), making him pretty much redundant in his own franchise. The characters are also completely idiotic, especially Matt Gibson, who – bafflingly – believes that he’s smarter than Hoffman, despite the amount of officers that have died trying to bring Jigsaw down. He also willingly walks into the world’s most obvious trap and is useless throughout the movie, so quite why the franchise has ended on his involvement is yet another unresolved mystery.
At the end of the day, the Saw franchise has finally come to its bitter end. Despite having more incessant violence than any other film in the series, this one feels the most toothless. Pointless, silly, unnecessary, tiresome and completely predictable, this is the end of what was once – around seven years ago – a truly horror great. Game over.