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  Publicity Stills of "Saw III"
Courtesy of Shaw

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Starring: Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Angus MacFadyen, Bahar Soomekh, Dina Meyer
RunTime: 1 hr 53 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: R21
Official Website: http://www.saw3.com

Opening Day: 30 Nov 2006


Jigsaw has disappeared.

With his new apprentice Amanda (Shawnee Smith), the puppet-master behind the cruel, intricate games that have terrified a community and baffled police has once again eluded capture and vanished. While city detectives scramble to locate him, Doctor Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) is unaware that she is about to become the latest pawn on his vicious chessboard.

One night, after finishing a shift at her hospital, Lynn is kidnapped and taken to an abandoned warehouse where she meets Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), bedridden and on the verge of death. She is told that she must keep the madman alive for as long as it takes Jeff (Angus Macfayden), another of his victims, to complete a game of his own. Racing against the ticking clock of Jigsaw's own heartbeat, Lynn and Jeff struggle to make it through each of their vicious tests, unaware that he has a much bigger plan for both of them...

Movie Review:

There’s a term in television called “jumping the shark”. In current pop-culture jargon, it basically signifies the precise moment in a television show’s history when its creative well starts to run dry, leading to the use of several over-the-top moments to compensate for waning interest. This phrase can well be attributed to “Saw III” and its place in the franchise. Granted, the maligned “Saw II” was a bit of a stretch but it promised to revitalise the original’s strained plot and it did. Now, the latest induction underlines those inadequacies even more saliently by tearing itself down with pretentious plot swiveling in order to stay viable.

The original’s dour atmosphere of hopelessness and mysterious cabalism is a now fleeting, almost ignored aspect of the franchise. It chooses exposition over ellipses, substituting frisson for revulsion with slow-burning intensity replaced by amplified screams and loud shrieks. The sinful glee stemming from the ingenuity of its death-puzzles are replaced by torture-smut, and lacks the human element of suffering and choice that was so much a part of its pinnacle of pain, “Saw”.

Jigsaw (a primarily stationary Tobin Bell), the cancer-ridden psychotic misanthrope has evaded the authorities with the help of his young protégé in Amanda (Shawnee Smith). In his deathbed, he still manages to construct his devious plans of helping the depressed live life to the fullest under duress. Unrelenting in his perverse version of a moral high ground, Jigsaw’s newest victims play his repetitive game while going through the motions that essentially runs from fear to anger, with a quick stop at self-belief and finally back to fear. While the elegance of its execution is left wanting, the franchise has always had a running, albeit precarious balance of gimmick and continuation. Now, a self-important backstory complete with copious amounts of flashbacks litter the onscreen massacre involving the utterly inconsequential meatbag victims that nobody really cares about.

“Saw III” could have essentially been called a collaboration of its past talents. The previous edition’s directorial patsy, Darren Lynn Bousman comes onboard again using a script penned by the franchise’s masterminds in James Wan (director of “Saw”) and Leigh Whannell. And the flashy quick-fire editing, grungy palettes and flashbacks are all reminiscent of its franchise. But why does this feel like it was written and directed by people who have no idea what made the original so successful in the first place? The complex psychological perspectives within its deceptively simple set pieces are given the ol’ heave-ho in lieu of grandstanding contraptions of suffering and sinister aspects of voyeurism are reduced to meagre, superficial roles in the increasingly ritualistic torture scenarios.

Even while the faltering conceit drops its veil completely at the end, “Saw III” just can’t help itself by reaching into undiscovered depths of implausibility to string together its entire franchise for that expected shock ending. Though I suspect that most audiences might just agree that its twist within a twist within a twist denouement creates more knots in its diegetic credibility and most of all, in its viewer’s patience.

Movie Rating:

(Weakest instalment of the franchise, but the blood still flows freely)

Review by Justin Deimen

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