What makes this particular painful about this story is that they’ve caused all the fuss over director Kevin Greutert over what is essentially a lame duck film. You could make the case that the writing’s been on the wall for the Saw franchise since the second movie which began a steep decline into ridiculous torture porn (so I enjoyed the first one, so sue me) or even since the last one which underperformed financially. Which is tough to do on a film that has a budget of your average 1970s Doctor Who serial, to be frank. Anyway, despite the seemingly large investment that making Saw VII in 3D would seem to represent (even crappy 3D ain’t cheap), it looks like Lionsgate are calling it a day. Saw VII will be the last of the franchise.
For those following the news about the seventh movie in the torture porn series, you’ll note that it has had a bumpy history. To say the least. After Saw VI got trounced by Paranormal Activity at Halloween last year, director Kevin Greutert got contracted by Paramount to direct Paranormal Activity 2. When the release date was announced as Halloween 2010, Lionsgate threw a mini hissy fit and drew down the option on Greutert’s contract, forcing him to direct the competing Saw release this year, and effectively forcing him to give up his work with their competitor. Not cool. Not cool at all.
Now it has emerged that the original plan for eight Saw movies has been cut down to seven due to the underperformance of the last installment. I’m still not sure I trust the original assertion that there were only meant to be eight movies, since there was originally meant to be three movies and – before that – originally meant to be one. Since then, the series has taken the first movie’s convoluted twist ending, Tobin Bell’s voice and Donnie Wahlberg’s career, flushed them down some weird sort of super-toilet and produced a ridiculously convoluted narrative about people getting brutally hacked, contorted and snapped.
The news came out in an interview with Patrick Melton, co-writer of the last movie:
I think it’s going to end with Saw VII. I have a very strong feeling its going to end with Saw VII. That’s something we’re debating now. You saw in previous interviews or discussions where we thought Saw VIII would be the last one where we had the first trilogy and the second trilogy and then sort of a grand finale wrapped up in two films. But frankly because Saw VI hasn’t performed as well as we anticipated, the idea is well why make two movies when we can make one really excellent movie that wraps up as best we can? And it’s going to be in 3-D which sort of adds to the spectacle. So if you had to ask me, I don’t own the franchise, nor do I run the studio, but I have a feeling, a strong feeling that it’s going to be Saw VII which will be also known as Endgame. And nothing’s official yet, but that’s where we’re hoping things will go.
Does this represent a shift away from torture porn, which has been so ridiculously influential that it has even hit the indie and arthouse circuits? Tell me Antichrist would be possible without Saw.
Maybe this is a sort of weird realigning of the horror world. I imagine the success of Paranormal Activity, in a way reflecting the breakout hit that the original Saw was, will mean we’ll see a lot more… well, paranormal films. Maybe even replacing the gore and grime of films like Hostel and Last House on the Left. I imagine that the slasher movie in all it’s seedy glory won’t die, but we’ll see a genuine change in the kind of cheap horror films produced.
On the other hand, Saw VII could do the business. Yes, it has a director who really couldn’t care less about it and it also follows a box office failure which suggests that audiences may have lost their faith in the ridiculously pointless narrative. But it is in shiny 3D. And 3D films – no matter how dire – typically perform. Because we’re looking for visceral thrills and 3D will provide them. That’s part of the reason that some people suggested that The Final Destination might have had more impact that Avatar. Of course, the box office has shown them, but still…
Maybe the Saw franchise will prove to be as undead as Tobin Bell’s character.