*** (out of 5)
October 27, 2006
Tobin Bell as JIGSAW
Shawnee Smith as AMANDA
Angus Mcfadyen as JEFF
Bahar Soomekh as LYNN
Mpho Koaho as TIM
Dina Meyer as KERRY
Studio: Lion’s Gate Films
Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman
BY KEVIN CARR
If you don’t know by now what you’re getting into when you see a movie from the “Saw” series, you deserve to be offended. After the first film splattered blood across the screen like a Jackson Pollack painting, and the second devised even more devious torture/murder devices, I found myself wondering how the filmmakers were going to top themselves.
Now that I’ve seen the film (which wasn’t screened in advance for critics – not a big surprise), I found myself wondering what it takes in this day and age to get an NC-17 rating.
I won’t go as far to say that this is the most disturbing “Saw” film yet. That’s a matter of taste, actually. But I will say that it crossed some lines that the other two films didn’t. In particular, the motivation of the villains isn’t as clean-cut as it was in the first films.
With “Saw” and “Saw II,’ you had a nice little story about a psychopath trapping people in grisly traps, forcing them to choose between suffering and death. Both films had a strong message that the people in these traps generally deserved it, and in a way, they got what’s coming to them.
This film strays from that theme. It’s not a needless straying because the mere fact this overall rule is broken serves the plot. However, it makes me squirm a little more as we see traps and games that really had no way out and served nothing more than a devise to torment the damned before they died.
In this film, our antihero Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is in the last stages of inoperable cancer. His protege Amanda (Shawnee Smith) is helping him set a final trap. Two people are part of this trap. Jeff (Angus Mcfadyen) is a father who has never gotten over the rage he has for a drunk driver who killed his son. Lynn (Bahar Soomekh) is a doctor who has lost her zest for life.
Jeff is put through a series of challenges to see if he has it in him to forgive those responsible for his son’s death. Meanwhile, Lynn is trapped with a necklace of shotgun shells around her face, which are set to go off if she doesn’t keep Jigsaw alive on his deathbed.
Fans of the “Saw” films know that there is more to these games Jigsaw has set in motion than you might first suspect. This is actually what gives these movies a little more of an edge on everyday horror. Instead of being a straight-forward slice-and-dice film, “Saw III” gives us something more to think about.
It’s a film made for the fans, showing a little bit of the history and relationship that Jigsaw has for Amanda. We learn a little more about what motivates both of them and how Jigsaw went about setting the traps in the first films.
Overall, the movie isn’t as good as the first two. While all three films have a nice twist to them, the twists are better in the earlier ones. The first, of course, was the original and broke the mold. The second gave me some surprises, which is hard to do considering how many movies I’ve seen and how often I can guess an ending.
While “Saw III” lacks the punch of the first two movies, it kept my interest. It gave me more to consider about Jigsaw as a character, and it added a depth of disappointment, despair and one-up-manship to him.
I wouldn’t exactly call these films cerebral horror movies. They are still a parade of blood and guts. But they are better than most of what’s out there today. Still, if you can’t stomach a man being drenched in the remnants of a life-sized pig blender or make-shift open brain surgery, you’re gonna want to stay away from this one.