In a way, it’s blimmin marvellous to see a torture porn horror franchise build its shtick on victims having to make ethical choices… It just adds a little bit of gravitas to the thing, don’t you think?
Saw 3D is the seventh outing in the long-running Saw franchise. Each horror series needs a Freddie or a Jason, a villain with an individual hook. Saw‘s got John Kramer, aka the Jigsaw Killer. Jigsaw believes that every wretch, every loser and every morally unsound person can save themselves if they make a decision in a situation so traumatic that the choice they make will actually cause them to be ‘reborn’. The only catch is they might lose their foot, their friend, their wife or their nipples. Which would you choose?
The basic premise behind Saw results in a series of what the Jigsaw Killer calls ‘traps’ or ‘tests’… carefully devised scenarios designed to test the victim and see if they are one of life’s winners or losers. After being specially chosen by the Jigsaw Killer for their unsavoury life story and general moral poverty, the victim is placed in a gory yet fanciful ‘game’ which highlights where the Jigsaw Killer believes said victim has gone wrong in life. Usually, the only way for the victim to escape one of John Kramer’s games is to mutilate themselves horribly – hence Saw’s acquisition of the ‘torture porn’ label.
Jigsaw was actually bumped off in Saw III, so subsequent stories have continued Jigsaw’s story and his effect on society via flashbacks and increasingly soap operaesque setups. In fact, amidst all the horror set pieces of Saw 3D you’ll see a number of familiar faces from the original (and clearly best) Saw movie. It’s nice to see the actors keep coming back for more. It would be even nicer to think it wasn’t just for the money…
In Saw 3D, past survivors of John Kramer’s horrible tests unite for guidance from self-help guru Bobby Dagen, a man who’s turned his own experience as a fellow survivor of one of Jigsaw’s games into a lucrative procession of TV deals and self-help book signings. Unfortunately, Bobby Dagen has a dark secret, and the Jigsaw Killer knows all about it. Is Bobby Dagen ready to step up and play one of Jigsaw’s games for a second time?
While I love horror films, my tastes run to Italian Giallo, Japanese horrors and things with a bit of suspense in them. Arthouse horror and monster movies. Even teen slasher flicks have their place in tradition. I’m not a fan of modern torture porn, which to me replaces ‘fear’ with ‘gross’. But, hey. The body horror in Saw 3D is, for fans of the genre, inventive and loads of fun. All the set pieces of Jigsaw’s ‘games’ are an involving mix of Jerry Springer voyerurism and a nascent sense of ethics reminiscent of the Caucasian Chalk Circle.
At the end of the day, if you don’t mind paying for a cinema ticket in order to hide behind a bucket of popcorn for two hours, Saw 3D is a hell of a lot better than Halloween 7. And regular fans of this horror franchise will probably delight in the last ten minutes of Saw 3D, which ties up a lot of the loose ends, albeit with barbed wire…