Saw 3D (2010)

Saw 3D (click for larger image)Reviewed by Andrew Kasch

Starring Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Sean Patrick Flanery

Directed by Kevin Greutert

So Saw is officially over. And if you really believe that, I have some copies of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Jason Goes to Hell, and Freddy’s Dead to sell you. That said, Saw 3D officially marks the end of this crazed seven-year cycle, and Lionsgate has made several moves to make sure it goes out with a bang.

This time the game revolves around slimy self-help guru Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery), a Jigsaw survivor who has grown rich off his story and parading around fellow victims. Naturally, he’s abducted and thrown into another series of morality tests in order to save his wife and fellow cohorts. Meanwhile, the sadistic Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) also plots revenge against Jigsaw’s widow (Betsy Russell), who has been locked away in protective custody ever since trying to kill him at the end of Saw VI. And yes, the fate of Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes, in a brief role) is finally revealed in the film’s worst kept secret. But even though it’s no longer a surprise, it’s still great to have everyone’s favorite Dread Pirate Roberts thrown back into the bloody fray.

Saw 3D (click for larger image)Everything about Saw 3D is wildly over-the-top. The 3D itself is fully utilized (the production used real 3D cameras instead of that post-conversion crap) so blood and body parts fly into your face at high velocity. The traps, still creative as hell, are now one step shy of becoming Transformers robots. How Mandylor is able to set up devices that would take a team of electrical engineers years to construct is beyond all explanation (unless he has secret protégés of protégés that we’ll learn about in Saw 8-11). That said, nitpicking through this film is just pathetic. If you’ve made it this far into the series, you’re not watching Saw for its logic; and when it comes to good old-fashioned gory exploitation, there’s an undeniable charm to this installment. It isn’t nearly as well crafted as the previous entry (thanks to some well-publicized production problems), but at least the high body count and outrageous plot twists keep the series from sinking back down to Saw V levels of boredom.

This is largely due to series editor Kevin Greutert, who returns to direct (possibly with a Jigsaw trap strapped to his head), and despite the abhorrent circumstances behind the scenes, it’s still good to have him back. Saw VI was arguably the best in the series, and Greutert still manages to bring a lot of energy to this follow-up. At this point everyone involved has a real grasp on the crowd-pleasing elements, and they’ve honed the franchise into cinematic comfort food. Most of the ridiculous back-plotting that dominated the lesser films has been stripped back to make room for more meat and potatoes – which is to say, blood ‘n guts. For the diehards it does answer some of those lingering questions but wisely moves things forward for the rest of us. The only drawback is a serious lack of Tobin Bell, who has about as much screen time as he did in the first film.

Saw 3D is kind of like watching one of the better Friday the 13ths: It ain’t high art, but you know what you’re getting and you get what you pay for: the kind of hoot-and-holler entertainment best enjoyed with a flask and a whole group of buddies. For better and for worse, this series has had a huge impact on horror, and until Jigsaw returns again, the next few Halloweens will feel a little emptier.

3 1/2 out of 5

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  • James Coker

    absolutely right cinemascribe, I what I loved about TCM 2 was that were the original is a very 70’s serious fright flick, TCM2 is a very 80’s fun black comedy fright flick, there different from each but i love both of them equally

  • James Coker

    you know Cinemascribe I’m actually a little anxious and gitty about this Possible LEATHERFACE 3D

    • Cinemascribe

      James, I honestly don’t know how to feel about it. If it’s true that they want to set it in present day, that would go a long way toward easing my mind because the prequel/1970’s era storyline is really played out. One of the reasons I enjoyed Hooper’s TCM 2 so much is that they set it in the present and really switched things up. Even though it’s actually a dark, dark comedy at heart, TCM 2 manages a fairly creepy vibe by suggesting that -at this moment- it’s still possible for someone as seemingly in contact with the rest of the world as college kids on the phone with a radio station to be set upon and gruesomely murdered by a family of cannibals. Removing the sense of distance which results from setting a film decades earlier did a lot towards bringing the effect closer to home for me. I’d like to see that again.

      I’ll also cop to being intrigued by the notion of seeing Leatherface wield his chainsaw in 3D. If they approached it in the vein of My Bloody Valentine 3D (which I loved),that could be really impressive. I just hope they have the good sense to bring back Bryniarski. That guy made the role entirely his own.

      “I’m saying that I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man…and loved it. But now the dream is over..and the insect is awake.” – Seth Brundle

      • Vanvance1

        TCM 2 was horribly underrated. Kudos to Hooper for doing something new with the property. I’ve always found it to be a completely entertaining film.

        TCM 3 was not bad either, not as good as the first two but watchable and entertaining.

  • James Coker

    since we all talking about “FINAL” in a series, I’m going to come out and say this…I liked Jason Goes to Hell…it even has a special place in my heart…its a long story from my childhood

  • nonserviam03

    Not the best entry in the series, but definitely faaaar from the worst. I enjoyed it. Not as much as Part VI, but I liked it. Certainly the goriest, and tied everything together nicely. If it IS the last entry (lol… right), then I’ll be happy.

    • GJW

      Of COURSE it’s the last one. They like, said it was and stuff. Oh, AND, it like has the word “final” in the title and all. Does that not mean anything?
      (Grins) Hehe.

      I have to return some video tapes.

      • nonserviam03

        I fully expect next Halloween to bring us Saw: A New Beginning.

        • The Woman In Black

          I don’t think they’ll make it by next year — I’d give ’em until 2012.

          • Cinemascribe

            Yeah. Instead,next year the produces are apparently aiming to bring us Leatherface in 3D.
            “I’m saying that I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man…and loved it. But now the dream is over..and the insect is awake.” – Seth BrundleL

          • Katsumi

            I’d like to think that maybe they’ll wait till 2013 or so to put out another one.

            I love the Saw movies and now that my rage and shock is over actually enjoyed this one, I just think we need a nice long break before they start turning more and more movies.

  • Barfneck

    Agree with Masked Slasher, Saw V was better than this. I actually thought the 3D was poorly done and the special effects makeup was off at points, especially the face splitting scene which was utter garbage. Bringing back Dr. Gordon was completely unnecessary as that didn’t need any clearing up. I’m just glad a friend of mine paid for my ticket.

    • Cinemascribe

      Masked Slasher wrote that he enjoyed Saw V more than 2-4. Actually, his is the post that opens with the statement that he thought Saw 3D was absolutely fantastic.

      How is your post in agreement with his? No, really. I’m not trying to be a dick. I’m honesty wondering,because I don’t see it. I’m also really, really tired right now and have taken into consideration the distinct possibility that -due to exhaustion – I’m missing something obvious.

      “I’m saying that I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man…and loved it. But now the dream is over..and the insect is awake.” – Seth Brundle

  • Masked Slasher

    This movie was absolutely fantastic.

    It was one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen in a while. The mean-spirited, gleeful and lingering gore FX recalled the early 80s work of Maestro Fulci and counterparts such as Joe D’Amato (when he was making horror and not porn).

    As a modern day chunkblower, Saw 3D succeeds perfectly. Loved Hoffman’s plan in the final act and thought the goofiest touches along the way (such as the vagabond assaulting the cop with a bottle) also reminded me of the films we’d buy at conventions on VHS bootlegs back in the day.

    Loved it, loved it, loved it.

  • Cinemascribe

    I enjoyed this. Not the best but far from the worst. On the site I write for, I gave it a similar rating -3.5 out of five.I knew this movie was going to divide fans the moment Cary Elwes was announced to return.

    It was worth it just to watch Hoffman go fully batshit. That was something else.

    “I’m saying that I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man…and loved it. But now the dream is over..and the insect is awake.” – Seth Brundle

    • Tristan Sinns

      >>”I knew this movie was going to divide fans”

      It’s not really going to divide by much. It’s a crapfest. It has 13% on Rotten Tomatoes. Positive reviews such as the one above are an outright rarity for this film. This is because the film is terrible.

      It’s ‘My Soul to Take’ all over again.

      • Cinemascribe

        Every Saw film is rated rotten on RT. Some have higher percentages than others to be sure, but critics have never been all that fond of the series. The audience rating for Saw 3D is at 68%,though, which is fresh.

        I’ve been reading enough fan posts online to know that at least as many fans loved this movie as hated it. It’s the Saw V phenomenon all over again- low critical rating, major fan division. I disagree about it being a crapfest. I don’t think it’s masterpiece but for what it is, I quite enjoyed the film.

        “I’m saying that I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man…and loved it. But now the dream is over..and the insect is awake.” – Seth Brundle

        • Sirand

          There wasn’t really any division over Saw V. Everyone pretty much agreed that it was damn near unwatchable.

          • Masked Slasher

            Hahahah, I liked SAW V more than parts 2-4. But I’m in the minority there, I get that.

          • Cinemascribe

            As far as professional critics are concerned, you’re absolutely correct. Even for the Saw series, Saw V was bent over and given the Vaseline two step.

            Circa 2008/early 2009, you were also correct about fan reaction to Saw V.

            Now, if you check out IMDB, House of Jigsaw, Yahoo..any of a number of sites where you can see user comments about the film today, you’ll be surprised by the copious number of fans who have since acknowledged that they really enjoyed Saw V. It has a fairly large following now…and yet there remain many fans who continue to lament its existence. Ergo, division.

            And,yeah, I liked it. I have a history of being drawn to the black sheep stuff (except for Halloween III. I realyl just don’t get the love some people have developed for that movie). In the instance of Saw V it was just a matter of being up front about it from day one.

            “I’m saying that I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man…and loved it. But now the dream is over..and the insect is awake.” – Seth Brundle

        • Tristan Sinns

          >>”Every Saw film is rated rotten on RT. Some have higher percentages than others to be sure…

          They do – and that difference means something. The original Saw has 48%; this is definitely low, but it also signifies a conflict in opinion. It’s almost perfectly 50/50.

          In contrast, Saw 3D is now at 8%. There is no conflict. It’s just a terrible film.

          >>”The audience rating for Saw 3D is at 68%,though, which is fresh”

          Being that the ‘audience’ in this context is any joker or script that can create an RT account, I would give as much value in this metric as broken eggs on the sidewalk. It means nothing.

          • Cinemascribe

            “Being that the ‘audience’ in this context is any joker or script that can create an RT account, I would give as much value in this metric as broken eggs on the sidewalk. It means nothing.”

            Or it could mean that 68% of those “jokers” who created an account watched the film and liked it, which suggests that the majority of theatre patrons who saw the film and then bothered to sign on and rate it enjoyed it.

            It’s not only RT either: At the Box Office Mojo site, 55 out of 107 people voting awarded Saw 3D with an A rating, with 23 giving it an F ,16 giving it a B ,7 giving it a C and 6 rating it a D.. so it currently holds an overall user rating of B-..also a high mark.

            On Yahoo, Saw 3D has a B+ user rating. On IMDB it has a 6.8 out of 10 user rating.

            If we’re going to judge the film on it’s professionally reviewed percentages, then let’s not ignore the clear trend for the fan base..which is favoring a positive response. That absolutely means something.

            “I’m saying that I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man…and loved it. But now the dream is over..and the insect is awake.” – Seth Brundle

          • Floydian Trip

            What it means is that the majority of people going to see these movies wouldn’t know a good horror movie if it bit them in the ass. If you ask anybody who had their formative horror years in the 70’s and early 80’s I bet you’d get about 99% of them agree that these movies are pathetic and horrible. The people who had their formative years after that don’t know anything but crap, bullshit horror movies in the theater and most likely don’t get into the low budget, indie domestic and foriegn horror films that have been good.

            It’s not entirely the fault of the new “horror fans”. The studios have everything to do with dumbing everything down to the most ignorant of level and pandering to the lowest common denominator. Everyone else suffers. If the horror I grew up with was like all this new bullshit of the last 2 and a half decades I’d hate the genre and would never waste my time watching any of them.

            I feel there is hope though with Guillermo busting his ass to turn things around because he knows it and talks about it all the time. John Carpenter being back in action is a great sign too.

          • GJW

            I loved 80’s horror. But I have to wonder if that has anything to do with the age I was throughout that decade!

            I have to return some video tapes.

          • Katsumi

            I don’t think age really has anything to do with it, I wasn’t born till December of 89, and I’m much founder of the movies in the 80’s then I am the ones we have now..

            I’ve actually went as fare as to say I prefer the special effects and how movies where made then to how they are now. CGI is great and all but I just think there is something more to like and appriciate when hard work and time goes in to the effects, but thats just me

          • GJW

            Actually,what you just did was prove my point about age. If you were born in 1989,then you saw the movies of the 80’s at a young age. In the 80’s, I was obviously much younger than I am now. Meaning, we were both at a young age when we watched the horror movies that were created in the 80’s. Age has everything to do with it. Movies that I thought were great at that age, I now watch and think to myself “what the hell did I see in that”.

            I have to return some video tapes.

          • Katsumi

            I actually didn’t see my first 80’s horror flick till I was in my teens, I used to be a scardy cat lol… And like I said I prefer them to the stuff they have now, I actually like the older movies.

            Then again I also like the black and whites for the 60’s and 70s so maybe it is the age and I’m just a ver weird exseption.

          • Cinemascribe

            I gotta rant here so I hope DC will bear with me.

            My first R rated horror film experience in a theatre was John Carpenter’s Halloween. I was seven and I snuck into a screening at one of the first cineplexes to open in our area in 1978 (there were still a number of drive in’s holding court locally at the time) .

            Now, I think Alien is a classic and that Aliens is better. I’m of the opinion that Jaws defines Man vs Nature horror, A Nightmare on Elm Street is legendary and – along with Hellraiser – was ground breaking. I’d also say that Dog Solders was fantastic, The Descent is a masterpiece, Romero’s Dawn of the Dead is epic, The Omen may be the best film to ever center on Biblical prophecy and the Exorcist has yet to be equalled in matching human drama with gut wrenching levels of pure fear, though the Silence of the Lambs certainly gave it a run for it’s money. I could also write a love letter to the Evil Dead films, but I’d like to get to the rest of my point. My friends joined me over the decades in growing up with many of these films and we developed our love for the genre through watching them together.

            Which is why I’m calling the opening of your reply out as a bullshit generalization. Just because something is popular that doesn’t automatically necessitate that everyone who enjoys it must be brain dead and have absolutely no capability for discerning what a good film is. Here’s the rub: I can also report in all honesty that these same friends and I -who are all roughly the same age- are fans of the Saw franchise. So are many of the people we know in our age group. These are intelligent human beings with a surprisingly similar taste in horror.

            As it happens, I don’t think any of the Saw films are Oscar worthy nor are they high art. But I knew what I was getting into after the original was a hit and Saw II was announced. The films satisfied those expectations in a manner which I found entertaining. That doesn’t mean my taste in movies sucks or that I don’t know what qualifies as good horror. I’m just savvy enough to clue in to the fact that not every movie (especially a seventh film in a yearly series) is going to be some epic, genre-redefining masterpiece that has Academy voters wanting to drop to their knees and blow it with praise. Some movies are made primarily with the fans in mind and on that level they work.

            I’m also at that point where I don’t need critical approval to voice my support of a film,since critics as a rule seem to have a genuine dislike for the genre and it’s inherent conventions. If you look back,a lot of the films revered today earned some savage notices from the critics at the time.. Leonard Maltin referred to Fred Krueger as a poor man’s Jason when he reviewed Wes Craven’s ANOES , Roger Ebert ripped into Romero’s Day of the Dead (and at the time so did many fans of Night and Dawn), we all know Friday the 13th was never liked by critics…and so on. That’s why I tend to check fan reaction first. I want to know what the fans think since they’re the ones keeping something alive, not freaking Rex Reed.

            Trust me..if I or anyone else enjoys the Saw films, it’s not because we don’t enjoy good horror or don’t know a classic when we see’s just that we found something we enjoyed for the past six years. if you didn’t enjoy it, power to you. Difference makes the whole genre pop. But don’t take shots at people because they enjoy something you don’t.

            In response to the comment the other poster left above about how a cursor click isn’t a good metric to judge by… keep in mind that a lot of the people doing the clicking ARE taking the time to post an accompanying comment. That seems like a reasonable barometer to me. There are plenty of them online supporting Saw 3D.

            “I’m saying that I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man…and loved it. But now the dream is over..and the insect is awake.” – Seth Brundle

          • Tristan Sinns

            >>”then let’s not ignore the clear trend for the fan base”

            I’m not ignoring it – instead, I’m suggesting that a stupid ‘vote here’ clickie is not a worthy metric by which to judge it. It is easily manipulable by studios, bots, shills, fanboys, or lord knows who. It doesn’t mean squat, either at RT or at Box office mojo.

            The RT Critic metric, on the other hand, are obviously ‘verified’ film critics. This metric actually means something.

  • Katsumi

    This movie pissed me off! I really don’t think this will be the last at all in anyway, but I hope they leave it alone and go to something new for a while at least..

    I found the 3D could have been more useful and if they intended to do it that way they could have made the traps and things to go with it better, though it wasn’t as horrid as it could have been…

    I’m not real sure my thoughts on this movie a 100% yet still trying to get over the ending..

    Game Over for now?