284 – Saw III

“Why should I see Saw III,” you ask, deftly avoiding yet another lame pun on the movie’s title. “I didn’t see Saw or Saw II.” Well, first of all, if you didn’t see those two, shame on you. I’ll forgive you, of course, because I’m nice, but shame on you nonetheless. Both of the previous two Saw films are fantastic horror films, a real credit to the genre. I mean, they’re eye-popping in their gore, but there’s enough of a psychological undertone do always keep the audience guessing.

It is, as you might surmise, the same with III. Only, heavy is the head that wears the crown; the team behind the Saw films are victims of their own creativity. It’s one thing to churn out meaningless sequels when all you’re doing is splattering nubile twits, but when you’re following Saw and Saw II, you have to fight to reach the bar you’ve set for yourself.

Luckily, James Wan and Leigh Whannell have done just that. The nefarious Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is back, and as we saw at the end of Saw II, he’s not alone – his accomplice is the lovely, the twisted Amanda (Shawnee Smith). Near the beginning of the movie, we see a SWAT team burst into a room where one of Jigsaw’s victims apparently exploded from one of the villain’s diabolical traps. This might lead you to think the movie will be a cat and mouse game between Jigsaw and the cops, but this notion is quickly quelled when the lead investigator becomes a Jigsaw victim herself.

Jigsaw is all about games, of course, so although it takes a little while to get there we finally get to the story’s main game. A young man wakes up in a large wooden box; he eventually is forced through several “tests,” each of which is somehow related to the death of the man’s son in an auto accident. Can the man (played by Angus McFadyen of Braveheart) face his inner demons by way of these tests (Jigsaw’s games carry a moralistic theme)?

Meanwhile, as we saw at the end of Saw II, Jigsaw isn’t doing so well, physically speaking, so he enlists (er, coerces) a pretty, young, driven doctor (Bahar Soomekh) to keep him alive. Oh, and to entice her to do just that, he has Amanda fit the doctor with a special collar. He wouldn’t be Jigsaw without his collars!

I may have given away a little too much already, you’re thinking, but there’s so many twists and turns and sudden shocks that it shouldn’t matter much at all. The movie is chock full of pulse-quickening, heart-pounding horrors, from the creeping-up-on-you kind to the WHAM HITTING YOU IN THE FACE WITH A SHOVEL kind; that is, director Darren Lynn Bousman is quite adept at manipulating the pace of the movie to freak you the heck out. Do you like closeups of oozing blood? Limbs and sinews bursting? How about brain surgery, do you have an affinity for that? I wouldn’t recommend the movie if you’re the kind who has to run from the theater when a needle punctures skin, or if you’re pregnant – a couple of these jolting scenes might induce labor.

Saw III is the latest in what’s become the new wave of horror movies: lower-budget films with small, unknown casts that are heavy on shock and plot rather than special effects and pizazz. If you enjoyed any of the previous two Saw films and/or Hostel, if you think watching an autopsy would be a wonderful first date, then Saw III shouldn’t cause you much worry – well, maybe other than holding your hand in front of your face sometimes. Not that I ever did that.

The ultimate question, of course, is whether there will be a Saw IV, since a recent trend is for movie series to contain only three films. I cannot unequivocally say that there will not be a fourth entry, because although the end does seem final, there is at least one major loose end that could be explored.

***1/2

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6 Responses to “284 – Saw III”

  1. chrisv Says:

    It’s simple: if Saw III made money, and I believe it made a lot, there will be a Saw IV.

  2. frothy Says:

    Well, it’s not that simple, although since these things don’t cost astronomical amounts of cash to make they’re not as likely to lose money. But the Scream series stopped at three, as did the Matrix and (I think) X Men, to name three.

  3. chrisv Says:

    Might be a little oversimplification, but we’ll see. You could bang out cheap sequels of this series (unlike those other big budget franchises) a la Friday the 13th for awhile. Probably won’t be as many Saws as that, though.

    If they can do another Rocky, it seems to me anything is possible.

  4. frothy Says:

    It’s different, because the Friday the 13th movies rely almost exclusively on blood and gore. The scripts are completely witless. The Saw scripts, on the other hand, demand your attention.

  5. chrisv Says:

    True, I don’t think we’ll ever see Saw 3D, Saw vs. Freddy, Saw in Space, etc. Maybe Saw: The Beginning, not unlike the latest Texas Chainsaw thingy.

  6. frothy Says:

    That would kind of rock. Jigsaw is a fantastic villain, and his motives are very nebulous.

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