Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Movie Review: Saw III

U.S. Release Date: 10/27/06
Running Time: 1:47
Rated: R (strong grisly violence and gore, sequences of terror and torture, nudity and language)
Cast: Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Angus Macfadyen, Bahar Soomekh, Dina Meyer, Donnie Wahlberg

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Producer: Leigh Whannel, James Wan
Screenplay: Leigh Whannel & James Wan
Music: Charlie Clouser
Studio: Lions Gate Films

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One advertisement for Saw III declared, “If it’s Halloween, it has to be Saw!” This self-proclaimed statement from Lions Gate Films and Twisted Pictures is difficult to refute.

For the third time in three years, a film from the Saw series has been released to the public pre-All Souls Eve. With a taste for blood and bone during this scary season, horror fans have come to count on more and more graphic gore and clever twists. Considering this assumption, Saw III delivers in the vein of I and II and them some.

Saw III picks up right where Saw II left off. Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) is left for dead, and Amanda (Shawnee Smith) continues to serve John “Jigsaw” Kramer (Tobin Bell) as his apprentice. However, Jigsaw is on his deathbed. The brain tumor in his frontal lobe is expanding, and his time is limited.

To keep Jigsaw alive, Amanda kidnaps Dr. Lynn (Bahar Soomekh). Dr. Lynn must keep Jigsaw alive so he can watch the game of his latest victim, Jeff (Angus Macfadyen), unfold. Otherwise, the mechanical collar that Lynn wears will detonate when Jigsaw’s heart rate reaches zero beats per minute.

Given its hurried production time (from Halloween of ’05 to Halloween of ’06), Saw III results in a surprisingly well-played horror with pin-point precision and gruesome ingenuity. All of its pieces fit together like a challenging jigsaw; all of its vividly torturous acts make you writhe in your chair like a helpless victim.

From chains that rip flesh, to contortionist machinery that shatters bones, Saw III is, in a word, brutal. Not one single detail is left off-camera and for the imagination. Viewers are forced to watch bones crack, skin deteriorate, faces freeze, and bodies explode. In simpler terms, Saw fans will be pleased by its bloodshed; others will be squeamish and might lose their lunch. Though, the same could be rightfully said for the inverse as well.

All-in-all, Saw III lives up to the hype. James Wan and Leigh Whannel have written an all-encompassing treat that, yet again, initially tricks the mind. This third chapter is most praiseworthy for its intermingled flashbacks and its airtight interconnections. On the other hand, its faults are present in consistently jerky camera motions and a lengthy rehashing that overly forces the not-so-revelatory ending.

Nevertheless, Saw III achieves its goals of being a fitting third installment, a nail-biting suspense with more than one twist, and an exercise in edge-of-your-seat queasiness beyond all get-out. (*** out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2006