Rated R/90 min.
Once upon a time, Cary Elwes starred in a magical film called The Princess Bride, playing the dashing Westley, who wooed Princess Buttercup, embodied by Robin Wright, who went on to become one of our best American actresses. Elwes, on the other hand, starred in a terrible horror movie called Saw six years ago and is now making a return in Saw 3-D, which is actually the seventh film in the franchise. Unlike Elwes, former series regular and New Kids on the Block member Donnie Wahlberg somehow got away, though not before appearing in four of these movies. Life can be very cruel sometimes.
Speaking of cruelty, Saw 3-D opens with a flashback to the first movie, showing a recently amputated Elwes crawling across a grimy floor, leaving a long trail of blood. His lack of a foot is his own doing, and we watch him literally seal the deal by mashing his open wound into hot metal. Things go downhill from there.
The razor-thin story centers on an author (Sean Patrick Flanery) who writes a book for survivors of the Jigsaw killer (Tobin Bell, the series mascot) and even holds group meetings. I like this idea very much: “Hi, My name is Barry and I spent twelve bucks to see Saw 3-D.” “Hi Barry.”
Needless to say, Jigsaw isn’t amused and, even though he died four movies back, he puts the author through one torturous obstacle course after another. Flanery has hit a remarkable career milestone: between this and last year’s The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, he has managed to appear in two of the worst sequels ever made.
All of the torture scenes have a clock read-out, letting you know how many seconds are left before the overly elaborate traps mutilate their victims. Having the seconds counting down only makes every minute feel longer, stretching out the 90-minute running time. The structure of the plot has the gory set pieces interspersed with an equally tortuous subplot of a police investigation. It’s like watching a disgusting slasher movie, changing the channel to CSI: Miami, then constantly flipping back and forth.
Jigsaw may be a demented, but he’s a lamb compared to the real sickos: Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, the screenwriters of this movie. They’re responsible for Saw entries IV-VII and repeat a hilariously idiotic moment from the previous movie: Saw VI openes with a woman chopping off her arm; cut to the opening titles, then to the victim in the hospital, where she proclaims “I cut off my arm!”, which the film flashes back to, in case you forgot. The same lady is back again and, sure enough, she says “I cut off my arm!” and guess what we flash back to? Contempt for the audience doesn’t begin to describe it.
So what about the 3-D? I haven’t mentioned it for a reason—it stinks. Maybe even worse than the rest of this cynical abomination, if that’s possible.
The poster declares this is the “final chapter,” but I’m not buying it. So let me make a humble proposal for Saw VIII: let Jigsaw punish Melton and Dunstan the way they punished me.