Jigsaw’s killer twist takes torture porn up a notch

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 27, 2017

By Steve Newton

Back in October of 2010, after six straight years of hugely successful Saw films coming out on the Friday before Halloween, the seventh and “final” entry in the series, Saw 3D, was released. It made money–eventually raking in $136-million worldwide on a $17-million budget–but also garnered the worst reviews of any Saw flick, scoring 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. “Sloppily filmed, poorly acted, and illogically plotted,” reads the site’s Critics Consensus.

So of course they had to make another one.

After a typical cop/action-show opening where a fleeing scuzzball criminal gets shot and captured, the film takes on the expected torture-porn traits. Five freaked-out individuals are shown in a big room with steel buckets on their heads and thick chains running from the metal rings around their throats into a wall imbedded with buzzsaw blades. As usual, the raspy voice of Jigsaw announces that it’s game time, and that each captive will be given a chance to confess to and atone for past sins—or die tryin’. The blades whirr, the chains pull, and the dumbest among the bunch gets taken out first.

While Jigsaw’s busy making up for lost time, a street-tough detective (Canuck film vet Callum Keith Rennie) gets on the case when the first victim’s body appears in the morgue. “He looks a little pail,” quips a foxy coroner’s assistant, setting the tone for hokey one-liners to come. When they remove the bucket we see that the guy’s been half-decapitated lengthwise, which is always the worst way to lose half a head.

The rest of the film flits back and forth between the police investigation and the torment of Jigsaw’s playthings, but doesn’t get half decent until the titular baddie, aka serial killer John Kramer, shows up in the flesh about two-thirds of the way through. Tobin Bell has always been the best thing about the Saw movies–even better than those wicked torture devices. He’s an electrifying presence, and his performance, a twist ending, and a final, hilariously over-the-top gore effect make the last half-hour of Jigsaw quite entertaining.

On the way out of the theatre after last night’s advance screening I overheard a guy behind me saying that he liked the ending but wasn’t impressed by the film’s showcase death machine, a large, funnel-like contraption with spiraling red blades powered by a motorcycle. I couldn’t help myself, turning around and adding my two-bits’ worth in a three-word comment.

“Yeah”, the stranger cheerfully agreed, “bogus meat grinder!”

 

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