Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Here it is. The most anticipated horror/thriller of the year: the third and supposedly final film in the Saw franchise. So, how does it pay off? The script, while completely original this time, attempts to tie up every single loose end from the first two films as well as introduce new characters and their own story.

This plot revolves around Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and his apprentice Amanda (Shawnee Smith), who have disappeared after their last game in which Det. Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) was left for dead in the bathroom dungeon from the first film. Det. Kerry (Dina Meyer) is called in when the killer resurfaces, but this time things have changed; it appears that even if the victim was able to overcome their task there was no way to actually escape. This time people are being flat out killed. At the same time Dr. Lynn (Bahar Soomekh) has been kidnapped by Amanda in order to save the life of Jigsaw, who's in the final stages of brain cancer. Also, another person, Jeff (Angus Macfadyen), wakes up in the middle of a game set up by the duo that's supposed to teach him that living with nothing but revenge on your mind is no way to live.
All of these plot threads, while sometimes confusing, all end up connecting in ways the audience never sees coming. Writer Leigh Whannell, who also cameos as his character from the first film for a few scenes, really went into overdrive trying to connect all the pieces from the three films to make it seem like one big story that's been broken into three parts.

It's an entertaining film which is interesting in many ways, but there are a couple of problems. For one, this film is so gory and disturbing that it's hard to watch. The first two films were violent, but nothing to make you really cringe. Most of the violence was off screen. Here it's in your face and beyond graphic. I still can't get the image of "The Rack" scene out of my head, as well as the uber creepy "Ice Woman" segment. A couple of the tests are disgusting, but these two scenes will stay with me for a while. The other fault is Amanda. She was an interesting character in the second film, but here she's made into a whining, immature and impulsive little bitch that's hard to give a shit about. She's supposed to be Jigsaw's successor and judging by the way her character is portrayed she's a pretty poor choice. All she thinks about is herself, and even though Jigsaw is like a father to her I really had a hard time believing that she really did care for him at all. I like Shawnee Smith as an actress, but she really didn't do much with the character at all except for the occasional tender moment. Most of the time she comes off as someone with Tourette's.
The way the storylines connected was really cool. We get to see just how involved Amanda was in the events of the first two films, and some more startling revelations about those characters (what REALLY happened to Det. Matthews and Adam was horrific). And even though the film ends in yet another cliffhanger, I don't see how they can continue on with the series any further. The story is over, plain and simple. There's twist upon twist upon twist, and while some seemed forced and contrived, I still enjoyed it.

Director Darren Lynn Bousman, who helmed Saw II, really seems to have taken the criticism he received to heart. I said that part 2 was too well lit to be considered a horror film, and here the movie is just awesome in that department. He really seems to know his way around the genre now as well. His confidence really shines through and the movie works as well as it does because of it. I see big things in the future for this dude.
The score was another plus. Charlie Clouser, who scored the first two films as well, really outdid himself this time. His masterpiece from the original film, "Zepp Overture", was great, but the way he adapted it here to fit all kinds of scenes just kicked my ass. It's too bad there's no score soundtrack because I'd buy that in a heartbeat.

In the end, this is a hell of a lot better than the second film, but still isn't nearly as good as the first. Mainly because in retrospect, the original Saw was a simple story and Saw III is so complex and convoluted that it's hard to follow once in a while unless you know every single little detail from the previous films. I applaud the makers of this film for putting so much effort into something that will be blown off as "just another horror film", but I really liked the simple approach more.

I just hope this is the last one in the series. Any more is pushing it.

3 out of 5

*written 10/26/06

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