Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman
Premise: The third film in the Saw franchise. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and his assistant Amanda (Shawnee Smith) kidnap a doctor (Bahar Soomekh) to keep Jigsaw alive while he engages in one final game with Jeff (Angus McFadyen), a father mourning the loss of his son.
What Works: This is the most complex narrative of the three Saw films. By now audiences will be looking for the twists and so this film relies more on allowing characters to determine the course of the action rather than gimmicks. This is a smart move and as a result Saw III avoids some of the trickery and deception that the previous films relied on. The film does not take anything for granted and the storyline between Jigsaw and Amanda is very strong. The film has its share of gore but in this Saw film there is less of an emphasis on gore for gore’s sake and the torture devices in Jeff’s game are more inventive than in the previous films.
What Doesn’t: While the tortures are inventive, the film does not properly give the sense of Jeff’s personal odyssey. His story and the change he goes through are underdeveloped and as a result the climax does not have as much weight as it could possess. The previous Saw pictures had an underlit, gritty look but this lighting and cinematography of this film crosses from being moody into being shoddy. Characters and action are difficult to make out at times in ways that hurt the storytelling rather than giving it atmosphere.
Bottom Line: For all its faults, this is a satisfying wrap up to the Saw saga, if in fact, that is what the film is. I worry that Saw III’s twist ending is a transition into another installment that will lead the series to a path of self destruction the way the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13thfranchises turned their frightening antagonists into a running joke.
Episode: #114 (October 29, 2006)