James Wan & Leigh Whannell
Darren Lynn Bousman
Tobin Bell as Jigsaw/John
Shawnee Smith as Amanda
Angus Macfadyen as Jeff
Bahar Soomekh as Lynn
Saw III is the Third Installment of the Saw Franchise. Saw III has the largest budget of any in the series by far (at an estimated $12.5 Mil). This means more gross-out and more yell-out-loud, but thankfully the look and feel of the original remains.
Once in a blue moon a highly original horror movie, well done with minimum budget takes the world by storm to become a smashing success. Sometimes the level of demand for more warrants sequels, often with more money to spend. The Blair Witch Project is a stunning example of how this can go terribly wrong as the sequels are so terrible that they actually detract from the original’s good name – and the early sequels to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre didn’t fare much better. George A. Romero, on the other hand, showed Horror Freaks that a continuation of an excellent theme, in the right hands, can continue the franchise and become a series of classics.
The Saw franchise can, with the release of Saw III, join the latter as a successful multi-episode franchise that didn’t lose its way as the money poured in.
Saw III begins in now-familiar style, as an unknown stranger awakens in a dark and dirty room chained to a post, or wearing a contraption of some sort, or in another deadly predicament. Through a series of flashes we know that Jigsaw is up to his old tricks again.
This time, however, there is something wrong. The scenes of carnage do not follow the same pattern of previous Jigsaw death scenes, because the police notice that whether the victim passes the test or not there is still no means of escape…they were still going to die. Is there actually a copy-cat of Jigsaw lurking around and doing what Jigsaw himself finds reprehensible: Committing murder?
While all this is going on there is another subplot – Jigsaw is finally succumbing to his brain tumor and is near death. His trusty sidekick Amanda kidnaps the beautiful Lynn, an emergency trauma physician, to keep Jigsaw alive through the completion of one final test being performed on Jeff. Jeff’s test is on video and being watched as he completes one grueling life-choice after another, and Jigsaw’s heart must not stop until Jeff is finished. To make things interesting Lynn is fitted with a device that is tied to Jigsaw’s heart rate monitor that will literally blow her head off if the monitor displays a flat-line.
Saw III contains the ideal elements of a classic horror franchise. The villain, in Jigsaw, is brilliant and formidable. The characters are developed well and provide excellent context for the “tests” that Jigsaw puts them through to rediscover their will to live. The story elements are original and intriguing from the original Saw on through Saw III. The look and feel of the film is raw and gritty, and yet just slick enough to not be a distraction. The use of music and lighting, along with sheer soundtrack volume contribute to Saw III becoming an experiential trek through the violent mind of a genius.
Throughout the Saw trilogy there is one constant – screenplay writer Leigh Whannell. This bit of continuity is undoubtedly a key factor in the success of the franchise. Darren Bousman also returns as Director of Saw III (Bousman also directed and co-wrote number two) and James Wan returns as a story writer (Wan co-wrote and directed number one). Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith do a fantastic job in their recurring roles as Jigsaw and Amanda.
Although the Saw franchise has not yet stood the test of time, there is no doubt in my mind that we are witnessing classic-horror-to-be. When Saw