Saw: The Final Chapter is the final film in the Saw franchise (as of 2010) and where it ends on an epic note for Saw fans, the movie itself isn’t all that great. Directed by Kevin Greutert (Saw VI) this is the first in the franchise to not include a roman numeral in the title, and this is due to it coming out back in the height of the 3D bullshit. The plot focuses on a new game centred around Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flannery), a self-help guru who falsified his Jigsaw survival story. It also spends much time continuing the feud between Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) and Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell) and also reintroducing Dr Gordon (Cary Elwes) for the first time since original film. The problem with a lot of Saw entries is getting you to care about the new characters…… and once again that is the issue here. I can’t name a single new character I gave a shit about, and this resulted in not caring about following the new game. Everything going on with Hoffman, Jill, and Dr Gordon I was fully invested in but almost everything else was sub-par.
One thing I think Saw 3D is lacking is the grittiness of the previous entries in the franchise, there is a specific hue that covers most scenes and makes things brighter and cleaner, specifically the blood which is a disaster in my opinion. The blood here all looks very pink, watery and straight up fake…. It takes me out of almost every gruesome scene and doesn’t have the same daunting effect as in Saw through Saw VI. And then you have the opening trap which is actually a very cool trap, the problem is the writers try to up their game by having it take place in public. Why does it need to be in public? It doesn’t add any more tension to the scene, makes it seem more silly, and raises a tonne of logic based questions about how it was even able to be set up……. I feel like this was handled better in another version of the script but we’ll never know.
Because Hoffman went on a mini rampage in Saw VI we need some new characters. The introduction of Bobby Dagen, his family and friends, and Detective Mark Gibson (Chad Donella) goes by without a blip. None of the characters are interesting at all with the only one slightly engaging was Gibson, and that is just due to being tied in with the Hoffman/Jill storyline. Bobby and the other victims of his game are so dull, boring, and unlikeable that I straight up hate them and don’t give half a shit about whether the live or die. The saving grace of this entire movie is every event directly involving either Hoffman, Jill, or Dr Gordon as these are the scenes that progress the major plot points that have already been well introduced and explored in the past. The performances are just as consistent with their characters as you’d expect them to be and my love for Costas Mandylor’s character is elevated here because he just has so many awesome moments.
The plot itself progresses at a very rapid pace, when I say this I am mainly talking about everything that happens outside of the main game, this all moves along very quickly as it has the eventual goal of closing out the entire Saw storyline. There isn’t a dull moment (well one dream sequence is pretty dumb), and I was thoroughly entertained at every moment. Whenever it switches over to the main game to focus on a new trap it’s like an advertisement that shows up every now and then to break up the program you are watching. Although I don’t care for the characters the traps themselves, specifically the last one are quite inventive so I have to give them props for that because if there’s one thing that has never really faltered in the last 7 movies it’s the traps.
So in the end Saw: The Final Chapter, Saw 3D, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, or whatever you decide to call it is an epic conclusion to the Saw plot-line that has carried through every film that every Saw fan will love. But when you look past the twists and that continued storyline there isn’t much else to grab onto, the traps are good, but almost everything else is handled poorly. The main game and characters involved are uninteresting, the 3D is jarring and pulls you out of it, and the blood and light filter isn’t reminiscent of the Saw franchise. Even though I am a massive Saw fan even I have to admit that despite the fact that I will continue to rewatch this movie and love it, it isn’t really a good one.
And that’s the last of my Saw reviews until the release of Jigsaw in late October. I don’t think anything of these last 7 films will have any direct influence on the events of Jigsaw but it’s always fun to go back and revisit one of the greatest and most iconic horror franchises of all time.
MAJOR SPOILERS for Saw: The Final Chapter to follow…..
Now lets get to some of the minor cool moments and the juicy spoiler filled moments relating to the main plot that close out the entire Saw story. Lets start with the main set of traps both in and out of Bobby’s main game. These traps were all pretty damn cool and relatively simple too, nothing too extreme and thats what made them so good. The public execution trap, fish hook trap, impalement wheel, horsepower trap, and Bobby’s final brazen bull trap were all very well designed and fun to see play out. The choice to make the trap Bobby lied about surviving once his final test was a cool choice that brings his false story full circle. I also like to figure out who exactly is the one who set up all of the traps and planned the games so lets run down the traps in this film. So the horsepower trap featuring the late Chester Bennington i’m sure was Hoffman, and Hoffman alone I feel like this was his concoction in order to eventually give him a way into the Police Department. As for the main game, as a flashback shows Jigsaw meeting with Bobby I believe Jigsaw is the one who set up the parameters of the game, recorded the tapes, built the traps and laid out all of the groundwork, whereas Hoffman is the one who put the victims in place. This is due to the technology used (tape recorders, old TV’s) being present. The TV in the final test is a newer one but that could have just been Hoffman replacing an old TV just before beginning the game.
Now lets talk about Hoffman’s journey in this film, so after managing to survive Jill’s death trap he stitches up his face Joker style and now that he has essentially been found out he begins making preparations for Bobby’s game. In the mean time he makes it his goal to find and kill Jill Tuck for trying to kill him. Now the finding part was easy for Hoffman, but it’s the killing part that was going to be an issue due to being kept in a Police Department cell. Almost every scene with Hoffman in it is following his very genius plan to infiltrate the Police Department through a body bag. So lets run down Hoffman’s plan; he staged a car yard trap to get a bunch of bodybags down there, he made an explosion hoping everyone would leave the bodybags long enough for him to get in one, he sent tapes to Gibson so he’d leave the police station and go to the junkyard at the perfect time so that Hoffman could get through the police station easier to kill Jill. There are a lot of convenient events here but it is a genius plan nonetheless that was a twist I definitely didn’t see coming. So upon reaching the police station he commences his murder spree leaving a trail of bodies behind him…… At this point he’s killed or had a hand in killing almost all of the detectives to have appeared in the franchise so far.
And then he finally finds and confronts Jill who had been hiding in the ‘safety’ of the police this entire time. Hoffman tracks her down in a room filled with old Jigsaw traps which is a bit of a nostalgia trip and of course the one trap he picks to use on her is the original reverse bear trap Amanda escaped from…… not the one Jill used on Hoffman. He puts the trap on Jill, straps her in and waits while her face gets ripped open into a bloody mess. Because of her important place in the franchise I was pretty sad to see her go but if there was one way she could have gone it had to be via the most iconic trap. Now following her death Hoffman thinks it’s all over and he can just pack his bags and go into hiding…… but nope, there is one more surprise Jigsaw had hiding and before I cover what goes down next lets follow Dr Gordon’s journey through this film.
So the movie opens up with a scene that takes place literally seconds after Dr Gordon crawls out of that bathroom in the first movie. I remember seeing this scene in theatres and losing my mind, being so relieved that now we are finding out exactly what happened to Dr Gordon. So Dr Gordon cauterises his fresh stump in a gruesome scene and that’s the last we see of him for a little bit. Then at one of the Jigsaw survivor meetings Dr Gordon reveals himself from the corner of the room and delivers a pretty creepy monologue in a way only the great Cary Elwes can. We learn he’s been going to these meetings for a long time and at this point it’s still uncertain… Is he bad? or is he good?….. I think we all knew the answer at this point. Then the next time we see Dr Gordon is right at the end of the film in what is an absolutely epic ending to a franchise, quite possibly the best ending I could have ever hoped for. So as Hoffman is escaping he is attacked my men in the classic pig masks and one of them reveals themselves to be Dr Gordon making this the fourth and final time the franchise has pulled the ‘secret accomplice’ move….. and i could not be any happier about that.
So we then get a series of extensive flashbacks whilst the amazing Saw theme plays over the top which explain exactly how Dr Gordon ties into all of the events of the previous Saw films. First we find out that the orange package delivered by Jill in Saw VI was a message from John to Dr Gordon. The message plays in the background and it essentially states that without Gordon’s assistance over the years none of Jigsaw’s work would have been possible, and he is given instructions that if anything was to ever happen to Jill to act immediately on his behalf. In the flashbacks we see how Jigsaw saved Gordon and gave him a prosthetic which led to a level of trust where Gordon became a secret accomplice to Jigsaw, one that presumably no other accomplice knew about. We learn that Dr Gordon was responsible for the surgical element of all of Jigsaw’s previous traps, so anything that involved the sewing of stitches was the work of Dr Gordon. We also get a nice tie-in to Saw III where we learn that Dr Gordon was the one who suggested Lynn Denlon be the one to operate on John’s brain. And lastly we learn that the “I know who you are note” Hoffman received in Saw V was written by Gordon. And then we snap back to present day where we go right back to where it all began….. the iconic bathroom. This is such an emotion and nostalgia filled epic scene where Hoffman is chained to the pipe, all of the bodies are still there and Dr Gordon slams the door shut just as Jigsaw and Amanda did before delivering the final line….. “Game Over!”.
Now despite this whole revelation that Dr Gordon was one of Jigsaw’s accomplices being absolutely fucking awesome, it was the most heavily theorised reveal since like the release of Saw III. For years there were tonnes and tonnes of videos where people tried to find clues that proved Dr Gordon not only survived his injuries but was helping Jigsaw. The were minor speculations one of which being the apparent appearance of a white t-shirt reminiscent of the one Gordon was wearing when he escaped being present in the corridor outside the room. But the major theory revolved around the fact that Jigsaw was an engineer not a surgeon and that only Dr Gordon could have made those incisions. And if you watched the tape during the death mask trap in Saw II you would see that the hooded figure cutting the eye who was assumed to be Jigsaw was limping, leading many people including myself to believe that was hinting at Dr Gordon being an accomplice. So in the end we were right but it didn’t ruin the surprise, only enhanced it.
So that’s that, the entire Saw franchise wrapped up nicely in that final moment in the 7th film and closed out any need for a sequel. But of course, these movies make money so now we are getting Jigsaw and even though my expectations a pretty tame i’m still very much looking forward to what is hopefully a return to form for the Halloween conquering franchise.