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Saw III (2006)

Sometimes Rules Are Meant To Be Broken...

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 113 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18


Going back to its more closed-in roots, this third piece of the Saw puzzle is my favorite—not counting the first—because it’s got plenty of blood, plenty of back story, and plenty of Jigsaw and Amanda. This one improves on two as well because, again, we’re back to a smaller group of people being tested, and they’re people we can kind of empathize with. Some questions are answered this time around, and it ends on a high note.

People are still trying to find Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg), who disappeared while investigating the newest wave of Jigsaw murders—but Jigsaw’s (Tobin Bell) already moved on. For his newest game, Jigsaw and his star pupil Amanda (Shawnee Smith) have secured the services of Dr. Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh), the doctor who delivered John Kramer’s (that’s Jigsaw to you, mister) fatal cancer diagnosis and who he has awarded the dubious honor of keeping him alive. She’d refuse, but she’s got a nifty collar full of shotgun shells fastened around her neck that are set to go off if John flatlines, so, instead, she opts to help him out until he sees his last test to completion.

As always, the visual and special effects and make-up throughout the film are fantastic, and it’s clear that Darren Lynn Bousman and company aren’t resting on their laurels when it comes to trap complexity or blood and guts levels. What I liked about this Saw more than Saw II was that I actually really felt for Lynn and Jeff (Angus Macfadyen), the man Jigsaw’s picked to jump through his latest hoops. Both are sympathetic, and we really do root for them instead of just dismissing them as trap fodder. Also, again, I have to give some high-fives to Shawnee Smith and her crazy victim turned psychopath Amanda. Between Smith and Bell, you’ve got two intriguing “villains” that make the killing fun. This time around, there’s some stomach-turning moments, not just gore-wise, but in the makeshift hospital room Amanda has set up for her mentor. The surgery scenes made me close my eyes more than any of the traps. One more thing—you’ve gotta suspend some disbelief with this one and just let some things go. We all realize that for some of this stuff to work, circumstances have to roll by like clockwork, and yes, it’s hard to believe that a man as cancer-ridden as Jigsaw could get all his pieces into place, even with the trustiest of assistants, but you either accept it or get all hung up in the details.

Special mention to Disc Two in my version—the Decathlon of Terror. Horror trailers galore, from bad to classics like American Psycho. This alone makes it worth a purchase if you’re a horror nut like me.

It's Got: Fun traps and effects, great bad guys, good guys to root for

It Needs: You to not try to logic it all out

DVD Extras THREE Audio Commentaries (1: Darren Lynn Bousman, director; Leigh Whannel, Writer/Executive Producer; Peter Block and Jason Constantine, Executive Producers — 2: Oren Koules and Mark Berg, Producers — 3: Darren Lynn Bousman, director; Kevin Greutert, Editor; David A. Armstrong, Director of Photography); “The Traps of Saw III” featurette; “The Details of Death” Featurette (props); “Darren’s Diary: Anatomy of a Director”; Deleted Scenes; Trailers DISC TWO: Decathlon of Terror (compilation of Lions Gate Horror Trailers) DVD Extras Rating: 9/10


Better than its predecessor, Saw III still doesn’t capture the dread of the original, but it comes close.