Tuesday, 26 October 2010
FILM REVIEW: SAW VII 3D
By Guest Reviewer: A.J. Smith
Why have the Saw movies been popular enough to spawn six sequels, a frequency of one every year at Halloween? No, really, why? As an avid fan of horror movies, I was disappointed with the first movie’s lack of humour, but did appreciate the climactic twist just enough to convince me to cough up for the cost of a ticket for #2. But half way through was all I could last before one of only two walkouts in my cinema-going life.
It didn’t take me long to catch-up to the current state of affairs thanks to a brief re-cap at the beginning of Saw (VII) 3D before a gut-wrenching, publicly staged ‘trap’ starts the body count meter ticking. And sadly, the victims are little more than numbers we care little for them.
Jill (Betsy Russell), the wife of the original mastermind, Jigsaw /John (Tobin Bell), now deceased, is doing battle with Detective Hoffman (coldly played by Costas Mandylor). Hoffman has succeeded Jigsaw in devising and executing the gruesome traps and ‘games’, testing those deemed guilty of crimes against morality. The tension between the two adversaries is cast aside as Jill sits idly in police custody, allowing Hoffman to execute revenge on Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flannery), a Jigsaw survivor cashing in on his notoriety.
The manner in which these two stories intertwine feels like an afterthought, as does the 3D. Although filmed in 3D, it looks post-converted with objects lacking volume and shape. At best you get body parts flying at your face, and, at worst, everything resembles a cardboard cut-out, as though in a pop-up book, though not one you’d give your children to read.
Director of Saw VI, Kevin Greutert returns, and reportedly only because Lionsgate exercised a clause in his contract to do so. He was set to helm the Paranormal Activity sequel when producers decided against David Hackl, director of the least profitable sequel, Saw V. That’s interesting given that Paranormal Activity 2 is at the other end of the horror spectrum, relying on characterisation and a spooky atmosphere to deliver subtle thrills that are just as effective, if not more so, than the over-the-top shocks of the Saw variety.
But the sadistic and inventive traps are the reason fans keep returning; devised to push ultra gore, while also giving us a chance to put ourselves in the place of the victims for a ‘what would I do in that situation?’ moment. The trap involving a fish hook, a key and some metal spikes activated by a decibel meter had me shrieking in amusement and repulsion. And the quality of the gore effects is impressive; only a couple of times did an effect look fake.
That’s quite an achievement for a film packed with so many grisly deaths, but repetitive flashbacks and a regurgitated plot will leave fans glad that this is (supposedly) Saw’s final entry. I can only recommend this to anyone who liked a previous instalment, or the horror movie completist.
Note: I have to give an extra special mention of Chad Donella, who plays Hoffman’s ex-police partner, Gibson. Every time he spoke the audience was cracking up and later cheering him on, as if to somehow encourage him to outdo himself. I believe that, in time, Donella’s hammy performance will alone garner a cult following, but heaven forbid, his own film!