SAW 3D (SAW VII). Starring Tobin Bell, Cary Elwes and Costas Mandylor. Directed by Kevin Greutert. Rated R 18+ (High impact violence, blood and gore). 90 minutes.
You need balance to see Saw.
You need a lot else as well. The series has built up a fan base, horror buffs who like to imagine the fiercest horror and gore nightmare scenarios, or horror buffs who like a good laugh at the increasingly ugly torture set ups and sadistic psychological games. The others who go to see them by now are probably completist film reviewers (as at present!).
There is a prologue with a grisly saw set up in a glass case in a prominent city square – with people gathering and gawping (as we are in the cinema), taking mobile phone pictures or just gasping with transfixed gaze at the deaths. The film is punctuated with other set-ups and, as with all the other films in the series, a quest where someone has to do superhumanly painful feats in order to save others (usually a futile hope).
Actually, there is quite some amount of plot. Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw has the opportunity to appear in flashbacks. Rogue accomplice policeman, Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) is continuing the murders, even to pursuing Jigsaw’s widow. He is also out for revenge for the policeman whose life he saved but who reported him to authorities (and is willing to let all the police who stand in his way die as well). The original bit of plotting is with an alleged survivor of a Jigsaw trap who has written a book, holds self-help groups for other survivors, has written a book (a nice touch in a flashback when Jigsaw himself comes to get an autograph) and has become a media personality. It is all lies, so the quest is his to save his co-conspirators and his innocent wife (her demise is too sadistic even for a Saw film).
There is also an inventive ending which unexpectedly takes us back to Cary Elwes, the first victim six films ago and allows for another sequel (which has been denied but the box-office may say otherwise).
But, in the realistic terms of what is shows and imagines, it is all rather horrible.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Released: October 28 2010.