Lionsgate // 2011 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // January 21st, 2011
The final game is about to be played.
Okay all you serial killers-in-training out there, get ready to finish your seven year long tutorial with Lionsgate's newest instructional video Saw: The Final Chapter, the last (read: not really) installment in the legendary (read: money making) horror series is now available on Blu-ray care of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.
If I was a fastidious reviewer I'd attempt to recap all the other Saw films so I can get you up to speed on the synopsis for this seventh Saw outing. Frankly, that taunting task seems to be a labyrinth of work I just don't have the energy for.
All you need to know is this: Jigsaw (series regular Tobin Bell, showing up for less than five minutes) is as dead as the 8-track player but his accomplices continue to do his bidding by dragging those he feels are guilty into the enlightenment of his skull crushing, flesh melting 'traps.' Jigsaw's wife, Jill Tuck ('80s staple Betsy Russell, Cheerleader Camp), is in on the murderous game (sort of), but hot on her trail is holdover Det. Hoffman (Costas Mandylor, Mobsters), who seems to have gone quite mad with power as one of Jigsaw's apprentices. As the police -- including the persistent Det. Gibson (Chad Donella, Final Destination) -- start to close in on Hoffman, best selling author and previous Jigsaw survivor Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flannery, Powder) is dropped into one of Jigsaw's death mazes and must save his wife and business associates from certain doom before Jigsaw's grand finale is finally revealed.
Jason Voorhees must have left a big gaping hole (wound?) in his absence which Lionsgate was all to eager to fill with their own horror franchise. From 1980 to 1989 horror fans were treated to yet another hack n' slash classic starring everyone's favorite masked boogeyman. You could practically set your watch by the opening of that franchise's sequels. After Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, it seemed that the spate of horror sequels began drying up. Jason, Freddy Krueger, Pinhead, Michael Myers...save for a few scattered sequels, those houses of horror began to permanently shutter their doors (until those insipid remakes began popping up like mold on 2 week old cheese). Then 2004 arrived and James Wan's Saw became the sleeper hit of Halloween. Suddenly executives realized that they had a new horror icon on their hands. For six more years fans would see the continuation of enigmatic killer Jigsaw's story with Saw II, III, IV, V and VI.
Yet everything that has a beginning must have an end, which brings us to Saw: The Final Chapter (or as it was dubbed during its theatrical run, Saw: 3D). In an interview with stars Cary Elwes and Betsy Russell, both actors noted that while it helps to have seen all six previous Saw films, this one stands alone and can be viewed without the benefit of the previous movies. Technically, that's correct -- you can see Saw: The Final Chapter without having sat through 10+ hours of what came before. Then again, you can also try to woo and bed a polar bear, but it's probably ill advised. Saw: The Final Chapter gives you flashbacks, mentions, nods and cutaways to aforementioned sequels and if you haven't seen them you'll be in the dark on how the connect all the blood soaked dots.
What can be said about this seventh Saw movie that hasn't been said before in every other Saw review? Because really, when push comes to shove these are just variations on the same theme: people are trapped in an icky, dilapidated house/basement/bathroom/warehouse and must run through a gambit of deadly traps and scenarios to free themselves/friends/loved ones before the clock (i.e. the movie's running time) expires. There are usually subplots involving the main killer, Jigsaw (even after his death in Saw III), and various law enforcement and survivors who may or may not be in on Jigsaw's treacherously twisted game. Along the way jaws are torn off, eyes are poked out and flesh is flayed to disgusting effect. Cue credits and replicate next year.
Did I like Saw: The Final Chapter? Not especially. I can admire the craftsmanship and dedicated work that went into the film, but it's a very harsh movie with scenes that made me cringe, not unlike the needle pit scene in Saw II that ranks as the only horror movie sequence where I was literally squirming in my seat trying to get away. The older I get the less I enjoy these sorts of horror movies. Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon once noted that no audience wants to laugh more than a horror audience, and if you don't give them something to laugh at they'll just laugh at your movie. With that in mind, I'm reminded that these Saw films often are so full of dreariness and self-importance -- you can feel the writers trying to convey some kind of life lesson through the dialogue -- that they start to feel like work just to make to the end of each entry. Unlike Gordon's twisted but endlessly fun Re-Animator, the giddy joy of terror is all but sucked clean from these "torture porn" horror flicks.
If you liked the previous six Saw entries I see no reason why you won't like Saw: The Final Chapter; the stock acting by C-level actors is what you'd expect from this kind of genre, the effects are queasily realistic and the production values just high enough to look adequate but not good enough to be impressive.
As for this reviewer...I'm glad Jigsaw's game is finally over.
Saw: The Final Chapter is presented in a 1080p 1.78:1 widescreen presentation. Fans of this series won't be disappointed with how this transfer looks, though because of the genre (grimy horror), this isn't a sparkling clean picture. The images often look intentionally washed out and dimly lit. The image itself is rather sharp and what colors there are (lots of browns, greens and blacks) are mostly well defined. For what it needs to be, the transfer of Saw: The Final Chapter looks good.
The soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio in English. When you pop in Saw: The Final Chapter, prepare to have your ears be sonically raped by this mix. The effects and bass come loud and fast during many of the scenes -- squishing heads, spinning drills and thumping music will intensely combat your sense for all 90 minutes. Whatever you think of this film, the soundtrack certainly gets the job done. Also included in a French 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, as well as Spanish, French and English subtitles.
Fans of the series can gorge of a few extra features, including two audio commentaries (the first features Mark Burg, Oren Koules and Peter Block and the second includes writers Marcus Dunston and Patrick Melton), around fourteen minutes of deleted or extended scenes (all in high definition), music videos ("Goliath" by Karnivool, "Cocaine Chest Pains" by Kopek, "Pass Out" by I-Exist, "Hageshisa To" by Dir En Gray, and "Full of Regret" by Danko Jones), a featurette titled "52 Ways to Die" that deals with all the traps from the previous Saw films), a theatrical trailer and a bonus DVD/digital copy of the film.
I suppose if you've read this far you're a Saw diehard and there's no turning back. For some inexplicable reason I've sat through all of these movies and admit I'm glad to see this story come to a close. Lionsgate's presentation here is excellent if you want to see dripping entrails in high-def. And considering the amount of money these films have made, I'm terrified to admit there are a lot of you out there.
Saw: The Final Chapter is the conclusion of Jigsaw's reign of terror.
Then again, Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter, Jason Goes to
Hell: The Final Friday, and Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare were
also supposed to be swan songs and look how those turned out. Food for
Review content copyright © 2011 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted/Extended Scenes
* Music Videos
* DVD Copy
* Digital Copy