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John’s Horror Corner: Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010), bravo, Jigsaw! The game is won and your puzzle is complete!

September 29, 2017

MY CALL:  Some weren’t fans of this intended franchise closer and, you know what, I don’t see the problem.  I thought this was a delight.  Great kills and characters, old favorites and some solid closure to a franchise spanning 7 films in as many years.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Saw:  Well, the story makes the most sense if you see Saw (2004), Saw II (2005), Saw III (2006), Saw IV (2007), Saw V (2008) and Saw VI (2009) in order, then this (part VII), and finally Jigsaw (2017; part VIII). Other torture porn for gory thrill-seekers would include Hostel I-II (2005, 2007; but not part III), Martyrs (2008; not the remake), The Human Centipede films (2009, 2011, 2015), the I Spit on Your Grave series (1978 original, 2010-2015), and even the Final Destination films (2000-2011; but skip part 4).

The “where are we now” SIDEBAR:  In Saw VI (2009) we learned that Kramer (Tobin Bell; Boogeyman 2-3, Saw I-VII) recruited his wife Jill’s interest and involvement because of his success rehabilitating Amanda (Shawnee Smith; The Blob, Saw I-III/VI, The Grudge 3).  Contrary to how things appeared in part IV, we learn that Kramer, Hoffman and Amanda were all working together the whole time, making a lot more sense of how such elaborate measures were accomplished.  But not only that, as of part V we discover that Jill (Betsy Russell; Cheerleader Camp, Chain Letter, Saw III-VII) was involved the whole time, too! MIND BLOWN!  An FBI agent, an ex-tweaker zealot, a mad scientist engineer and a medical doctor sure do form an efficient torture team—just imagine the science and street savvy, and the access to legal and medical records.  After discovering that Hoffman (Costas Mandylor; Saw IV-VII, The Horde) double-crossed Amanda, Kramer instructed Jill (in his will) to kill him.  She thought she did, but Hoffman is a survivor!

So now with Hoffman seeking revenge, Jill turns to Detective Gibson (Chad Donella; Final Destination, The X-Files).  The saga continues as Hoffman pursues Jill, Gibson pursues Hoffman, and a new game begins…

Bobby (Sean Patrick Flanery; The Devil’s Carnival, The Evil Within, Dexter) masquerades TV talk shows as a Jigsaw survivor only to become the star victim in the latest game, the victims of which are everyone who was connected to his lies that brought him fame.  I bet he’s regretting that book deal now!

There was a notable drop in death trap quality in parts IV-V that thankfully rebounded in part VI. Well, things are continuing to resume their former glory as these deaths are a joy. The lover’s triangle resulted in a buzz-saw dumping a duplicitous girl’s guts to the floor; the steam-powered blade go-kart made an exploding flesh piñata out of a human body; the tooth-pulling scene hurt like…well, pulling teeth; the oven-roasted spouse was wild; and the superglue car trap was an immense tough-to-watch pleasure. I reeled as the victim tore off his own skin and cackled as his friend’s arms and jaw were torn asunder! But my favorite had to be the fish-hooked key trap. OMFG, in now seven Saw films no trap has made me reel and wince and yell at the screen this much since part III’s needle pit!

The best story contributions (so far) to the original seem to come from parts III, IV and VI.  This franchise has always been special by not only continuing a story, but by adding to the previous movies’ stories, building the franchise into a super-elaborate yet satisfyingly followable super-plot (hence the clever movie poster for this film). Well, part VII is no exception.  Remember Gordon (Cary Elwes; Saw I/VII, Hellgate)—yeah, that’s right, the doctor who sawed off his own foot (in part I) and crawled off presumably dying of blood loss?  Well…he lived!

The most iconic device in the entire franchise has been the jawbreaker (Amanda’s test; part I).  The machination reappeared in part VI, but Hoffman survived—jamming the trap.  But in this sequel, we finally get to see it work.  It’s strangely cathartic after all this time seeing it rip a jaw open in a millisecond.  Not only that, but this sequel yet again revisits the most iconic location: the bathroom from Saw (2004).  How fitting that these fondest franchise memories find honoraria in this sequel closing a run of 7 films in 7 consecutive years (2004-2010).  I’m left to wonder…will any of these characters, places and traps find encores in Jigsaw (part VIII)?

Some weren’t fans of this intended franchise closer and, you know what, I don’t see the problem.  I thought this was a delight.  Great kills, characters that mattered, revisiting old favorites and bringing closure to a spiderweb of plots spanning seven films.  Bravo, Jigsaw.  The game is won and your puzzle is complete.

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