johnlink ranks SAW III (2006)

So I totally thought that SAW II was the last in the series that I had seen. But I discovered, while watching the third installment, that I had seen this one too. I think that this was the one that… at the time… made decide I didn’t need to see any of the others. Usually I ask the question: “Does it hold up over time?” Instead, here, I ask: “Is it still so bad?”


I watched SAW III (2006) on 9.30.15. It was my second viewing of the film and, I think, my first since either ’06 or ’07.

Believe it or not, SAW III is an ambitious movie. It may not be successful in all that it tries to do, in fact it twists itself in more places than its penultimate torture machine. But this is a movie which wants to do its predecessors justice. In attempting this, it goes back to before the beginning. While Cary Elwes stayed away from this three-peat, original writer Leigh Whannell is happy to reprise the role of Adam so that we can see the how (if not the why) of his original capture.

This is a movie which tries to tell a television series’ worth of storylines in less than two hours. There are strings to tie up from SAW II, a new victim or two to introduce, new torture devices to implement, and more games to play. This iteration of SAW is convoluted, even if it isn’t particularly confusing. The number of people who have flashbacks in this film seems high, even if that is just because they people who have them keep having them ALL THE TIME.

The filmmakers of SAW III are absolutely making a conscious effort to up the level of brutality. While the first SAW was a horror movie first, and the second SAW was (perhaps less than successfully) trying to be the same kind of movie, this thirs SAW absolutely embraces the ‘torture’ in torture porn. The deaths are more creativity, even as we the audience don’t appreciate this version of creativity.

Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is back of course, as is his apprentice Amanda (Shawnee Smith). Her increased depravity gives the movie an excuse to let go of the concept of people murdering themselves and replace that trope with equally clever games that lead to certain death. This is a clever trick by the series creators, one which lets them off the hook for moralizing their brutality. It gives them leeway to come up with quote-unquote ‘interesting’ ways to kill people without any of the need to justify the why.

And, sure, the threads of the movie – which feature a doctor (Bahar Soomekh) and a grieving father (Angus Macfadyen) separately trying to survive – all come to to a head eventually. But this is a movie which feels groomed by a writer much more than the previous two films. While SAW II is no bastion of literary achievement, it at least felt like an extension of the first. SAW III feels like a convoluted mess of a movie trying to justify some of the questions of the earlier films (like how Jigsaw managed to stay still for so long).

That does not mean that this is not an entertaining movie. If this sort of horror is your thing, it isn’t a terrible couple of hours. It is – at the very least – an interesting movie. While the male protagonist is as unlikable a character as you will be asked to sympathize with, the movie still manages to engage at a solid pace. I’m not proud to say I liked this movie on my second viewing, but I can at least justify that by saying I don’t respect it at all.



The negative bonus point is for lighting design which renders this entire movie in near-unwatchable baths of greens and grays and ugly shots. We get it, this is an ugly world. But I’d at least like to be able to see that world.


FINAL SCORE: 4.5 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on September 30, 2015.

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