By Scott Tibbs, November 15, 2010
Note: There will be lots of spoilers in this review. If you have not yet subjected yourself to the latest chapter in this abomination of a franchise and do not want to see the spoilers, stop reading now. You have been warned.
The Saw series started out with a lot of promise. It was gory and difficult to watch at times, but the first movie was surprisingly tame in comparison to later films. Lionsgate set out to make an intelligent movie that broke from the mold of slasher films, and for the most part they were successful. The problem is that this series probably should have ended after the first movie. Had that happened, people would view the series in a much more positive light. The fact that Jigsaw died in the third movie should be a clue as to how absurd the last four movies have been.
The series has gotten progressively worse over time, with overly convoluted plot twists and "swerves" that are little more than retroactively rewriting the script of various movies. After the third movie, the primary purpose of watching this series is to laugh at the utter stupidity of the horrible writing. The first movie to actively annoy me, however, was Saw VI, which was so overtly political it could have been a Barack Obama campaign commercial. Yes, we hate insurance companies and we need health care reform. Blah blah blah. You can stop preaching now.
So I plunked down my $5 to see Saw VII last week. I was the only person in the theater, which was a bad sign. If you walk into a movie and realize you're the only one in the theater when the opening scene starts, you are probably not about to see a good or even passable movie. And this one was bad beyond my expectations.
First, the opening trap was absurd. You have a woman hanging above a buzz saw, with the two men she has been dating below her. The series' new villain (Hoffman) explains that one of them has to die. The men decide that their girlfriend would be the one to die for manipulating and lying to them - which is now a capital offense apparently. Never mind that one of the themes of the movie is that the traps supposedly are all survivable.
Here is where it gets absurd. The trap is behind a glass wall, in the middle of a very crowded shopping area. How exactly did Hoffman have the time to set this up, considering this takes place immediately following Saw VI? Simply put, there is no way the timeline works for this. Plus, once the trap is completed, it is never mentioned again, making the entire scene a completely pointless waste of time. This was filler, nothing more.
As the trap starts, at least 100 people are watching this happen and no one makes a serious effort to break the glass and rescue these people, other than one woman who lightly taps on the glass with her briefcase. That is just stupid. Perhaps Saw VIII will rewrite the story again and retroactively decide that these people are all part of a Jigsaw cult.
So one of the Jigsaw "survivors" is on a book tour about his experience. I won't go into much detail here. Hoffman kidnaps him and places him, his publicist, his lawyer, his best friend and wife in a series of traps, because he was lying about the experience. He was never in a "Saw" trap. Of course, everyone involved, save for the faux survivor, dies. But the faux survivor's wife was not in on the plot, so why did she have to die?
Hoffman manages to sneak into the police station, and then goes on a slasher movie rampage by killing most of the people in the building - including his target, Jigsaw's wife. Wasn't this movie supposed to get away from the slasher genre? In any case, he punks the entire police department, slaughtering others with traps he has set up (because Hoffman is supposed to be a good guy who only goes after criminals and degenerates) before finally getting to Jigsaw's wife and killing her.
This is where it gets stupid. Well, it is more stupid than before. The new "reveal" (again retroactively rewriting the previous movies) is that Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes from The Princess Bride) has been in on the scheme the entire time, since Saw II. After he survived the trap, Jigsaw rescued and recruited him.
Never mind that Gordon was assumed dead after the first movie after cutting off his own foot, and never mind that he has never once appeared in any of the previous 5 movies. Never mind that it makes absolutely no sense for him to be working with Jigsaw after what Jigsaw did to him. Jigsaw put Gordon in a death trap that Gordon could only free himself from by cutting off his own foot. Jigsaw threatened to murder Gordon's wife and daughter. Yes, I can see how Gordon would be motivated to help Jigsaw after that. It makes perfect sense.
Gordon and two others (we never see who they are) kidnap and drug Hoffman (who is still no-selling getting stabbed in the neck with a letter opener) and leave him in the bathroom from the first movie. Gordon has been asked by Jigsaw to avenge Jill if Hoffman does anything to her. After all, it makes much more sense for Jigsaw to ask Gordon to take revenge than actually protecting Jill from getting killed in the first place.
Hoffman isn't killed, of course, so we have plenty of room for him to go on another rampage next October. Since we have three people carrying out Jigsaw's last wishes, the door is open for more sequels even if Hoffman dies, and Gordon has apparently been working with Jigsaw all along.
The Gordon swerve was so stupid and nonsensical that I actually started laughing. The writers of this movie actually think they are being intelligent, by orchestrating this large-scale conspiracy involving what now can only be described as a Jigsaw cult. (The conspiracy now involves Jigsaw, Amanda, Hoffman, Gordon, Jill and two others who are not identified.) Gordon has had nothing to do with the last five movies, so suddenly inserting him into this conspiracy strains credibility to the breaking point. And how did Hoffman, who was Jigsaw's right hand man from II through VI, not know Gordon was involved? Amanda did not know about Gordon or Hoffman, either.
I was actually laughing on my drive home, because this series has become a self parody. I am sure that is not the reaction Lionsgate wanted for the biggest horror franchise of the last decade. They have taken what could have been a good franchise and made it into little more than a gore fest and the attempts at writing a "plot" have been a complete failure. It is also absurd to label this "The final chapter" and end it on a cliffhanger with the villain still alive and three new recruits. This series once had promise, but that has long since evaporated.
Final Grade: F