If you’d told us at Sundance in 2004 that Saw, the horror film premiering there, would spawn a new mediocre sequel annually for the next six years, we’d have told you to take your crazy theories and go straight to hell. But we’d owe you an apology now, as Friday marks the arrival of the franchise’s seventh entry, ominously titled Saw 3-D. The producers say this will be the last one, so let’s pretend that isn’t just a bald-faced lie and reflect on the series.
Saw introduced us to Jigsaw, the murdering philosopher whose torturous traps are meant to teach their victims the value of life. (That value equals zero.) In Saw II, one of Jigsaw’s victims survived and became his apprentice. Jigsaw himself was stricken with cancer but was determined to stay alive long enough to see his mission completed, so in Saw III he kidnapped a doctor and fitted her with a device that would make her explode if his heart stopped beating. Jigsaw had thus uncovered the medical profession’s dark secret: That all a doctor needs to put off a terminal patient’s death indefinitely is the proper motivation.
Being dead did not prevent Jigsaw from having an abundance of screen time in Saw IV, thanks to the twin powers of flashbacks and not caring if your movie makes sense. The same goes for Saw V, which featured an FBI agent who delved into the Jigsaw case files and learned things he could only have deduced if he’d seen the flashbacks along with us.
Saw VI decided that the entire series should be an indictment of the health-insurance industry because, why not? Through more flashbacks and retrofitting, it was revealed that Jigsaw’s disgruntlement began when he was denied insurance, leaving him no choice but to become a one-man death panel. No doubt we can expect more such nonsense from Saw 3D, with the added bonus of having to pay more and wear special glasses—just the way Jigsaw would have wanted it.