Published on October 30th, 2006 |
by Erich Becker
Review: Saw III
Most sequels or sequels of sequels tend to lose some of the spice that made the original movie worthy of having a sequel in the first place. There are franchises which buck this trend and those that follow a rollercoaster ride of mediocrity and glory as the series progresses through the years. The Saw series is a good example of the ladder with both the original and first sequel building up and progressively getting better with more inventive deaths, clever schemes, and twist endings that really made you think in the end. Saw III, the latest in the annual Halloween series, manages to hold the bar firmly in place for the series, but doesn’t raise it any particular way for the franchise or the genre.
Saw III picks up almost immediately after the events of Saw II, and as an added bit of closure we’re treated to how the second (and first) movies really ended by the screenwriters desire to tie up some loose ends. Granted they do leave a few questions, but we ultimately figure out what happened to Adam (the photographer from the first film) and Detective Matthews (who was last seen chained in a very familiar looking bathroom). Luckily for us the events that took place in the previous film are not only touched upon, they are a big component of the overall movie’s plot. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is still very much near death and Amanda (Shawnee Smith) is still working as his protégé in continuing on his work.
Unlike the first two movies the main “conflict” with a character or characters being put in an impossible situation (two men trapped in a bathroom, a group of people in a locked down house infected with a virus) plays second fiddle to Jigsaw himself and his final elaborate games to test the will of a person. I’ll be honest and say that I was surprised by the movie’s final revelation about who each of these people was and who was being tested for what. While the twist is no where near as good as the original, or as out-of-the-blue as the second film, it sits well with the viewer as you pick up bits and pieces along the way. We almost called part of the ending about half way through the film, but the ultimate climax and finale were a surprise.
The beauty of this series is it knows what it is, it knows the genre, and it knows who its fans are and it doesn’t bend over backwards to appease those who are not part of its core audience. The filmmakers at Twisted Pictures and Lionsgate know that male teenagers and early twentysomethings will turn out in droves for a film like this around Halloween and are prepared for the most obscene and grotesque display they can get a ticket for. These movies are cheap to produce, very cleverly marketed, and appease a devoted fan base.
Saw III lacks the horror aspect of most of the films in the genre in which the purpose is not to scare you, you won’t find any jump-out-of-your-seat moments here, but what you will find are plenty of reasons to cringe at the screen as decaying pigs become liquid, bone meets skull, and explosives meeting the human body. Saw III handles all three of the previous statements wonderfully and delivers a rewarding experience.
The second sequel, however, may not be as accessible as the first, or even second, films in the series for new viewers to be introduced. With so many flashbacks to the previous two movies, and the events leading up to them, and after them, this is definitely a more fan oriented film geared towards bringing closure and setting up the next sequel. How the will pull off nearly-greenlit Saw IV is anyone’s guess after the finale of this installment, but I can honestly saw I’ll be in line, ticket in hand, next year at this very same time.