This weekend the “final” installment of the Saw franchise cut into theaters, slicing off about $22 million in ticket receipts for itself, an improvement over the opening weekend take of the previous installment of the trap-based gorefests. Of course, making money has nothing to do with being good or not, and in my opinion Saw 3D fails almost across the board in being either interesting, entertaining, or a movie following the rules of the franchise.
When it comes to getting my blood boiling, Saw 3D has managed to get it going on two different fronts, both of which will be addressed here. From the quality of the film to the idea that this is the last installment of a very profitable series, strap yourself into the reverse beartrap and come along for the ride.
How many movies quit while they’re ahead? Out of every film that has a sequel, maybe a decent amount. Of any film series that has three films, very few. Of any franchise that has four or more entries, they always end up shitting all over themselves, for a long time. Why do they do this? Because sequels sell. Franchises draw people in. The initial box office report shows that Saw 3D is just as strong as any previous installment. How could one possibly use that information to make even more money? By making another sequel. Duh.
Is this the final chapter? I can’t imagine it really is. So why say so? Well, two reasons probably. First – to drum up excitement. People like to watch things end. Maybe it was a ploy to bring more butts into the seats. Second – to dump all the extra cost. What extra cost? Well, when you work on a franchise in a major role, like actor, director, writer, editor, you generally get paid more and more with each installment. Considering more than a few people have been on board since Saw II, there are probably some pretty big paychecks being cut. Temporarily ending the franchise lets you start fresh in two or three years.
But again – the plan must be to keep making money off Saw. It’s not a sacred franchise – they’ve already shit the bed on themselves, so they’re not really going to make it worse. So why call it the final movie? Why not call it something like “The Last Act” which sounds final, but leaves the door open because you just say it was “the last act of John Cramer.” I mean, hell, the end of Saw 3D has probably the best intro into a new movie that a Saw film has ever had. So fuck you for trying to convince me this is the last one.
Next – the movie itself. Quickly. I’m not a big fan of the franchise. The first film was innovative. The second two were interesting and stuck with the theme. Then shit went down hill. Gone was John and with him what made the series interesting- people being forced to better themselves or die. They had to earn forgiveness and fight to get their wasted lives back – people being helped. That is interesting. Lately it’s more like “Well you’re a kind of bad person, so we’re going to murder all the people around you if you can’t save them.”
That’s not teaching the dead people shit, other than don’t get captured by a dude in a pig mask. This installment was potentially the worst – a dozen or so dead innocents. Murdered. Straight up, in cold blood. The final trap was unwinnable, against the rules. The final victim, completely innocents. The murdered detective, a legitimately good person who always made the right choice.
Sure, some of these can be blamed on Hoffman being a shitty replacement for Jigsaw, but some of this stuff was still part of Cramer’s overarching plan. The movies weren’t so good that we’re interested in seeing how this all devolved. We want what made it great in the first place back.
Luckily, perhaps, the film has made enough money that the franchise can get a fresh start with the characters we see at the end who can take up the real mantle of Jigsaw and return the series to a fucked up psychotherapy session. But right now, when I watch a Saw movie without rules or listen to some producer tell me he’s pulling the plug on an insanely profitable series, I hit my boiling point.