Saw III

Movie Review #907

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Nationwide release on October 27, 2006. Horror/Mystery. This film is unrated. Runs 114 minutes. (Theatrical version: This film is rated R for strong grisly violence and gore, sequences of terror and torture, nudity and language. Originally rated NC-17. Runs 108 minutes.) American-Canadian co-production. Director: Darren Lynn Bousman. Story: Leigh Whannell and James Wan. Screenplay: Leigh Whannell. Cast: Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Angus Macfadyen, Bahar Soomekh, and Donnie Wahlberg.

I WANT TO PLAY A GAME. IT’S CALLED, “PICK A MOVIE TO WATCH.” THE RULES ARE SIMPLE: PICK SOMETHING BETTER THAN “SAW III”.

★½
By Alexander Diminiano

Editor’s Note: This is a review of the Unrated Edition.

Meet Jeff. Jeff is an unhappily married man with a cheating wife and a dead son. His son was 8 years old when he was hit by a car. That was 3 years before the events depicted in “Saw III”. Now Jeff has been brought into the lair of the Jigsaw Killer, who has taken into captivity everyone responsible for his son’s murder and placed each one of them in one of his world-famous “traps.” For those not familiar with the “Saw” series, the Jigsaw Killer puts his victims in situations that require them to endure extreme and inhumane varieties of torture in order to survive. He claims that he does this to test his victims’ will to live, because as he sees it, if they’re willing to keep living, they’ll do anything in their desperation to stay alive. But at this point, it’s pretty obvious that every one of Jigsaw’s victims has died, save for one, and that everyone from here on out will die.

But wait a moment. Let’s back up. Jigsaw has brought all the accomplices to the murder of Jeff’s son into his lair to torture them. Jeff’s son died in a car crash. It wasn’t the JFK assassination. Yet Jigsaw claims (and Jeff believes him) that five or more people were involved in the murder of his son. I don’t know about you, but in my mind, “vehicular manslaughter” and “conspiracy theory” don’t exactly match up.

Really, it’s all just a poor excuse for torture, and at this point, the “Saw” series is most certainly fitting of the term “torture porn.” At first, the depiction of torture can survive despite its utter pointlessness. I did enjoy watching an abdomen getting torn off. Though I was as well shocked by it: neither “Saw” nor “Saw II” delivered such graphic violence. “Saw III” wallows in it, and the torso-ectome scene is just an early example. Only a matter of minutes later, we’re faced with traps that are equal parts boring, brutal, and offensive. A United States Supreme Court Justice drowning in a vat of pig waste. A woman hanging by the arms, in the nude, in a room where the temperature is below freezing, being sprayed intermittently with cold water until she freezes solid. A man standing in a Vitruvian Man pose as his arms, legs, and neck are contorted to oblivion. You get the picture.

Meanwhile, Jigsaw is dying of cancer, and his apprentice Amanda Young–the only one to have ever survived his traps, and who has done saw twice at this point–has summoned a brain surgeon to save him. We’re not supposed to know that the brain surgeon is Jeff’s wife until the ending, but it’s made pretty darn obvious within the first 15 minutes. The rules Amanda gives the brain surgeon are simple: if Jigsaw does, the surgeon’s only option will be to die, as well.

I have to ask: it is normal for brain surgery to be conducted using a power drill and a razor? That’s just my curiosity. Even if such instruments are involved, do we really need to see everything happening in closeups? It’s pretty disgusting. I have never cringed or writhed in any other movie as much as I did watching “Saw III”. the movie tells a decent story, but it seems to only support its underwhelming twist ending. Oh and it gives more depth to the events of the first and second movies. But it’s so much more hostile than these two, especially now that it’s told from the antagonistic point-of-view. I guess the upside is that you can’t tell what’s going on half the time because of the obsessive editing; it’s quite often as if editor Kevin Greutert was trying to assemble strobe lights, rather than a film. His technique obscures the violence, but given how utterly annoying it is to watch strobe lights for two hours, I don’t even think it matters.

Check back next Monday for my “Saw IV” review.

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