After Saw II, Saw has always been one of those franchises that you thought would have been much better if it was never a franchise at all; a two-shot deal with a better than average premise and direction. But then Saw III came along. And then Saw IV, and we all started to get the point that Jigsaw was the Freddy or Jason of the 2000s. That being said, it’s a relief that this Saw is really (hopefully) the final chapter. But is it any good? Well, I can say this. By Saw standards, it certainly isn’t the worst.
Besides Saw IV, I have now seen every single movie in the Saw canon. And how does that make me feel? Well, kind of scummy, really. The original Saw was ridiculous and had horrible acting all around, but the ending was cool. And the second movie was genuinely good. I actually thought it was the best horror film I had seen in awhile. But then, the rest came along, with Jigsaw even dying in the third movie, and it’s only been a downward spiral from there. So, this final Saw is a great relief (even though Paranormal Activity looks to be replacing it as the annual fright film). And would you believe it, it’s actually not the worst of the bunch -- that title goes to the fifth in the franchise.
What makes this film tolerable is that some of the traps are genuinely clever this time around. My girlfriend said that the Saw series is basically just a sort of demented, grown up version of Home Alone, with all the traps and what not, and she couldn’t be more right than with this film. One unlucky fellow (Chester Bennington of Linkin Park fame) is stuck to a car seat with his skin grafted onto it. If he doesn’t rip himself off the seat to pull a lever, then the car will smash the girl underneath it, pull off the face of a guy who’s attached to the back of the vehicle, splatter the guy who’s chained to the wall in front of him, and then send him hurtling through the windshield to his death. In other words, it’s awesome. Another grisly scene is in the beginning, where two guys have buzz saws in front of them while, and their cheating girlfriend is being lowered from the ceiling. They can either cut each other to pieces, or let the buzz saw destroy the girl who cheated on them instead. Whatever the outcome is, you really don’t care. As long as someone gets cut up, you’ll be happy.
In that way, Saw: The Final Chapter really delivers, as after Saw II, the traps are all the series really had going for it. That said, the story and acting in this one are just as unforgiveable as in the past few films. If you’re familiar with the series at all (and why would you watch this one if you’re not?), then you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say that the dastardly detective, Mark Hoffman, is still in charge and filling in for Jigsaw. I kind of like Detective Hoffman in this film. I don’t know why, but he just seems so much more ruthless than the original Jigsaw played by Tobin Bell. Anyway, so Hoffman goes after Jigsaw’s wife because she tried to cross him, and blah blah blah, traps go off, horrible acting ensues, and then the end credits role. It should be noted that Cary Elwes, who was in the original Saw, plays an important part in this one. But again, all of the past Saws have made it hard to look back on the series fondly, so only those most loyal to the series will really appreciate the forced ending.
Overall, Saw: The Final Chapter (or Saw 3D, as it was known in the theatres) is not the worst Saw in the series, but it’s just as awful as the other ones following Saw II. If you’ve followed the series this far, you might as well see it to the end. I guess it’s worth the closure.
For most movies I love, I want as many special features as possible. My favorite of all special features is the commentary, where we can hear what went on behind the scenes straight from the horse’s mouth. For movies I’m not too fond of, the fewer special features, the better. Unfortunately, Saw: The Final Chapter is loaded with them. It’s almost too much to handle.
Still, I do know that only Saw fans are going to pick this DVD up anyway, so I might as well review it like a Saw fan, right? There are two commentaries on this disc, one from the producers and one from the writers. If you’re a fan of the franchise, both will be pretty amusing. With both commentaries, we hear that there still might be more Saw installments down the line, so if you’re grieving the loss of your favorite franchise, there’s still a chance that Jigsaw will rear his ugly clown face again. If I had to choose a commentary to listen to, I’d choose the writers' one. It’s funny and reveals a lot more about what got cut out of the picture, such as the fact that this film was meant to be a two-parter that was truncated to one because Saw VI did such terrible business. It’s a shame, really, because some of the stuff they mention would have made the film feel more whole and complete. As far as this installment is concerned, we really only have half of a movie here. Most people wouldn’t know the difference, but once you learn this fact, it really hinders any qualities that this film originally had to offer.
There are also “deleted and extended scenes,” that don’t add much to the movie at all. As with most deleted scenes, it just drags everything out. You could skip those if you wanted to, but Saw fans will definitely want to check them out since they feature more of Cary Elwes. The theatrical trailer is brief and shitty, and music videos for the movie round out the rest of the special features. Overall, if you’re a fan, you’ll love hearing the commentaries and seeing the extra scenes. It goes a long way in completing the cycle of films. If, that is, the films are really over in the first place.