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FEARNET Movie Review - Saw 3D

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Dear Saw,

We have to talk.

We've been through a lot these past seven years: that magical night at Sundance when you premiered before my dazzled eyes; a few years later when you threw that junkie in the needle pit; hell, I even thought it was cute when you grew a conscience last year and started railing against health insurance providers ... but I hear you're going away for a while, and based on our last adventure together, I'm thinking that's probably a good thing.

We've had some good times together, you dispensing some cleverly twisted and creepy ideas, me more than happy to clap contentedly through a horror franchise that's not watered down for wimps or teenagers ... but after this last outburst, I think we need to spend some time apart. You're just getting so redundant, Saw, and I don't even think you're aware of it. What used to be so exciting -- your twisted traps, your dark wit, your focus on a contorted but horror-friendly mythology to chew over -- is now feeling more than a little stale, and in many cases throughout your seventh flick ... pretty damn silly.

Unwilling to upset the formula you've laid down six times before, you (once again) present us with a three-headed problem: there's the main plot in which a bland semi-hero and a bunch of shrieking nobodies get ground up in some outlandishly elaborate traps; there's the afterthought of a police procedural, which exists mainly to fill running time and unload clunky exposition in simplistic fashion; and there's the "twisted soap opera" material starring Jigsaw, Amanda, Hoffman, Jill, and whatever other random character happens to pop back up after three movies away. But in your latest exploit, the first section is pretty damn dull, the second feels a lot like a Canadian TV pilot, and the third -- the section that should be overflowing in what's alleged to be the final chapter -- is clumsily wedged into the final few minutes, despite the fact that the big twist has been telegraphed from the first frame of the movie.

Honey, it's like you're not even trying anymore.

And you can't fool me with your fancy new outfit either. 3-D goes with a Saw movie about as well as peanut butter goes with cheese, and I think you know it, but you just had to go out and get all three-dimensionally glitzy just like all your big-budget friends, and you come off as pretty ridiculous. It's like I don't even know you anymore. Every conversation is rote; every kill scene is predictably vicious; every trap is head-slappingly silly. You over-explain things that fans already know and newcomers don't care about; you linger on the ugly whereas your earlier kills focused on both the ugly and the suspenseful; you feel more like a vague remake of yourself than a sequel. And that gets old real fast.

What ever happened to that rough and tumble Saw that I fell in love with back at Sundance? Back then you were a scrappy and impoverished little Australian newcomer, and now you feel like a lumbering checklist of required components. I'd hoped that you'd feel confident enough to take a few dicey chances during your last shot with me, but instead you just delivered the bare minimum, somehow expecting that after all we've been through, I wouldn't notice. I did notice, and I'm pretty disappointed. As a guy who has supported all six of your previous tirades, it frustrates me to say it, but this most recent effort feels like a cheap, hollow afterthought. Not even your guilty pleasures worked on me this time, so mercenary and transparent are your motives.

I think it's time we both move on, but I want to thank you for all the creepy craziness we've shared over seven films. Some were better than expected, others were a bit anemic, but overall it's been fun. We can both tell you've run out of steam with chapter seven, but (at the very least) I do appreciate the small dollop of juicy, old-school Saw mythology that you tossed in at the last minute. Aside from that cursory splash of service to the loyal fanbase, there's very little to get behind in Saw 7.

Or Saw 3-D. Whatever you're calling yourself these days.

I know you'll be back one day (let's face it; we both know you'll come crawling back to me) and I hope we can forget about this most recent unpleasantness. Maybe by that point you'll be willing to take a few chances.

It's not me; it's you.

- Scott


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