UK DVD review ‘SAW: The Final Chapter’, released on DVd and Blu-ray March 7 2011
This past Halloween, SAW, the world’s highest grossing horror franchise delivered, what we’re lead to believe, its final installment, ‘SAW 3D‘ (aka ‘SAW 7‘ in cannon terms and ‘SAW The Final Chapter‘ on DVD). Not a bad accomplishment for a franchise which killed off it’s marquee villain Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) in ‘SAW 3‘, a full four movies this, the curtain call. One then, can be fairly confident to suggest that this franchise never had much a grand plan or narrative arch. However, there’s no denying a couple of admirable facts; The SAW franchise has provided the horror genre with its first annual, sequential, and episodical franchise for two decades, and more so, a franchise which the general public, not just horror fans, have connected with, and embraced as an annual Halloween tradition. Make no mistake, this franchise represents THE concept of horror for a generation of cinema goers. Which leaves two questions; is this a fitting end to such grandiose? And is it indeed the absolute end?
SAW The Final Chapter certainly carries the burden of being the final film. All SAW movies have two narrative threads; the poor victims and their gruesome experiences with the Jigsaw traps, and the ongoing cat and mouse game between the police and Jigsaw, or whoever the hell Jigsaw is at any given time (I think it’s been up to four people, I lose count). SAW: The Final Chapter is no different. The victim’s thread here isn’t quite as cleverly conceived as SAW VI’s. This time we have a bogus Jigsaw celebrity survivor, milking the daytime TV circuit for money, pitching his self help seminars for Jigsaw survivors. Except of course, he never was in a Jigsaw trap. The secondary thread once again follows the cops, with the help of Mrs Jigsaw, hot on the heels of Detective Hoffman, the now sole surviving Jigsaw killer, pig mask wearer, and evil puppet operator. In the mean time Carey Elwes (the doctor from the very first SAW film who chopped off his own ankle to survive) returns to the franchise. You very much get the feeling that Elwes negotiated a handsome financial and narrative reward in return for as few days on set as possible. It’s not surprising that the good doctor’s return spawns more contrived flashbacks and even more contrived segways into the ever confusing, ever expanding, backstory.
The traps are as gruesome as ever, but you can certainly tell that creative ways of killing people are are running out. However, one kill featuring neo-Nazi-racist types is particularly, entertainingly, horrid. The film’s opening trap is likewise entertaining, and interestingly, a very public affair, taking place in broad daylight in a shop window. The social commentary here of people using their smart phones to video the torture rather than alerting the police is a nice touch. Public traps would have been an interesting avenue to explore, but one the film ditches after the this opening in favor for the traditional traps in a dingy warehouse. Ultimately the movie struggles to wrap the franchise up, meaning that all loose ends are left to the final five minutes, with a reveal that franchise fans will likely adore, but feels very rushed. So, is this the end? Well the film unsurprisingly leaves the door ajar. There are no planned SAW films for 2011, but sinners beware, the puppet with the crazed moral code still has a puppeteer.
The DVD: As with all SAW films, the Blu-ray looks great, and the transfer is fairly immaculate. High Def suits the SAW franchise, with its close up fetish of guts and gore.., the practical effects team certainly earn their pay cheques and you really get to indulge in their work. As always, movies that were made for 3D in the cinema look a little odd in 2D, but that’s just a side effect of the technique, one that wont be solved unless we all have 3D TVs or the gimmick dies-a-death. In terms of extras you get the usual commentaries, deleted and extended scenes, and trailers. The real treat for gore hounds is the ‘52 Ways To Die‘ featurette, where you can relive the deaths of the franchise.
Also released on March 7 is SAW: The Final Cut – the Limited Edition Ultimate Collection of all 7 movies.