SDCC 2010: First Look at Eight Minutes of SAW 3D

     July 24, 2010

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Last night Lionsgate premiered a full eight minutes of the latest (and allegedly final) installment of the Saw franchise during a short press conference. Even in the rough-cut form these scenes were bloody, disgusting, and even managed to forward the plot a bit.

Read on to find out what world records the Saw team has set, and for a full, spoilerific summary of the action as well as a bizarre in-jokes found within.

Tobin Bell (2)The evening began with a cocktail party where  Bell, Mark Burg, and many Lionsgate executives mingled with the hardcore Saw fans at an open bar. Next, we were whisked off to a posh theater where they handed out Saw 3D branded Hunter S. Thompson-styled 3D glasses.

After a few minutes of waiting, the press conference began and an editor from The Guinness Book of World Records came out and announced that with over 730 million in worldwide box office and over 30 million DVDs sold, Saw is officially the highest grossing horror franchise of all time. He handed out plaques to both producer Mark Burg and star Tobin Bell, who posed for photos together as they laughed.

A short Q&A followed wherein Tobin repeated old anecdotes about 11-year old skater punks loving the ideological messages of the films and bar maids being afraid that he actually was Jigsaw, then footage began.

The very first images of the eight-minute clip were from the original Saw, quickly recapping the tail of Adam and Dr. Gordon who, if you’ll recall, spent the whole of the first film trapped in a bathroom before the latter sawed off his own foot. Then, we flash cut to a long trail of blood leading up to the reveal of Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes, reprising his role after a five film absence). Gordon, seconds from death, crawls to a steaming pipe that he quickly uses to cauterize his wound.

Next we cut to the film’s first trap. Unlike previous Saw games this is not set in a dingy basement or dark room but rather in a storefront in a busy intersection. Two men awake, each shackled to rotating saw with a pulley system in the middle. Jigsaw’s voice begins to play from speakers that announce the men’s presence to all the passersby.

Hanging above the two men is a beautiful young woman in a skimpy, midriff revealing outfit. Both men have been sleeping with her and she has played them off of one another, manipulating their emotions and coercing them into committing (undisclosed) crimes for her material gain.

The game is simple, the men must push the sliding table attached to the rotating saws back and forth. If the saw goes all the way to one side or the other it will kill the man on the losing side of the tug of war, if they do nothing, the woman hanging above them will lower onto a third rotating saw that will cut her in half.

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At first, the two men push back and forth, eager to prove their status as the alpha male, but after a moment the woman joins in, egging them on, pledging her love to whomever is currently “winning.”

Before long, both men realize the depths of her manipulation and mutually decide not to fight with one another but rather to let the spinning blade do its work. As the clock ticks down she begs them to help, to no avail.

The scene ends with the woman bisected, her blood splashing all over the windows as the crowd looking on desperately tries to smash through the thick glass. A large piece of her intestine hits the floor.

Cut to black, and the title Saw 3D.

The scene definitely recalls the early Saw entries more than the baroque torture devices of the later films. Too, the 3D was effective and immersive. I never felt nauseous, even during the many handheld shots. Kevin Greutert, returning from part six does a good job of cutting between multiple planes of action to get all sides of the scene. Plus, the intestines were totally gross.

But it wasn’t all sunflowers and blood-red gumdrops. The scenes also had a few significant problems. During the Gordon sequence we repeatedly cut away to a long, tube shaped hallway where the credits float in the air. All of these bits struck me as pure cheese. Not only were they distracting, they were also representative of the silliest parts of the current 3D trend.

saw_3d_poster_01Furthermore, the acting was more on par with a student’s thesis film than with a major motion picture. All three of the torture victims, especially the woman, were fairly terrible and the pacing felt much slower than it has on previous entries.

Of course, these complaints are likely the result of the film’s unfinished status. It’s shocking how much of an actors performance is created in the editing room. And the pacing issue is likely to improve as the filmmakers continue to hone the sequence, which will in turn improve the performances.

Also of note is the name choice for the characters in this scene. Hardcore fans no doubt already know that Saw films have a tendency to employ double letters in the character names. Tapp, Zepp. Rigg, and Addison are just a few previous examples. This time however, the characters had a different flavor to their monikers. One of the men was named Brad, the other was named Ryan. After the screening I asked several crew members if these names were allusions to Brad Miska of Bloody-Disgusting.com and Ryan Rotten from Shocktillyoudrop.com. I got no solid confirmations, but I did get a lot of knowing grins.

Saw 3D comes out October 29th, look for more news as the release date approaches.

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