Call them barbarians, but the Saw makers have landed upon a perfect strategy: Make the plot so damn incomprehensible and the actors so thoroughly unlikable, you’ll pray for long, extended scenes of cutting. After the fifth or so nondescript cop was introduced to yet more inept detectives, I think I left the theater to go purchase an iron maiden. Won’t somebody just torture someone already?
The franchise—one of the most commercially successful in horror history—has reached a level of abstraction that defies logic, entertainment or serrated edges. At the end of the last installment, gravelly voiced hurter Jigsaw (Bell) lay dead. No matter: After the most gratuitously gory autopsy ever committed to film, another microcassette is found sealed in wax in his stomach. Let the games begin. Except you’ve already seen these games, and done much better.
This time, the kills include a neat kind of ponytail-chewing machine and a knife mask that’s probably really helpful if you’re tired of masticating your food. The trend of extreme brutality that started with the first Saw and Hostel movies may have outlived its usefulness as national appetites for Guantánamo-style ass-kicking wane. We haven’t reached the epitaph yet, but we’re talking death throes here.
Cast and crew