See Saw with Alex, Day 3: Saw III

The series goes south.

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Day Three: Saw III

Set six months after Saw II, Jeff (Angus Macfayden) is bereaved with the loss of his son, killed by a drunk driver. He's kidnapped and put through a battery of tests, wandering from room to room like a video game and encountering people involved with his son's death (the driver, the judge, etc). Will Jeff forgive these people for their sons and free them from their traps?

Meanwhile, Jigsaw has cancer.
If I had stopped with the first two Saws, I'd be inclined to agree with the RT commenter who objected to the series being called torture porn. While the first two are emotionally grueling, they did show a certain amount of restraint with blood and guts. Saw III, however, crosses that line into torture porn. And you bet I use the term derogatively.

Gore is a hallmark for a hard-hitting horror series like this, but this is the first Saw where a lot of it is also pointless. Early on in the movie, we see a blown-to-bits victim of the classroom trap. The series hasn't been shy about showing these victims' final minutes, but usually via flashy editing or fastforwards. Here, we get a real-time flashback of this victim's attempt to break loose from his chains, strung up like in Hellraiser. It's hard to look at, but since we already know he's not going to make it, it's also a frustrating waste of time.

Or what about the grand guignol brain operation on Jigsaw? We see the scalp get sliced open, the skull drilled (four times!) and sawed, and then a nice juicy shot of the Jigsaw's malevolent pulsating brain. But where's the terror? Where's the emotional wringing? These plain shots of gross-out prosthetics are the very definition of torture porn. And, afterwards, Jigsaw's still able to remain conscious and lecture people? He's like horror's whiny Jack Bauer.
I think Saw III is a, pardon the pun, gross overestimation of our interest in series mythology. Seeing the bathroom from Saw at the end of Saw II was pretty cool, but going back to that well again in this movie? Meh. And I actually don't really care about Amanda's transition from hipster of doom to evil apprentice. Ironically, the more backstory that gets filled in, the less compelling I find these characters.

And of all the series characters, Jeff has to be the least compelling and likable. Writer Leigh Whannel and Darren Lynn Bousman make some rather insane assumptions that Jeff's grief for his son is reason enough for him to be hesitant in saving the other victims. Yeah, right! What disgusting, malformed moralizing. Given how much goes down in this installment (Jigsaw, Amanda, and Detective Kerry, who have been in all three movies, all die), this should've been one epic movie. It's a pathetic waste that a worm like Jeff gets to deliver the killing blow to Jigsaw.

Well, whatever. If this weren't a job, I'd have turned this one off.
Body count:

Most inventive trap: I didn't like any of these traps, though the pig carcass one is sort of funny. How much disposable income does John Kramer have? Is he CFO of Wayne Industries or something?

Stupid person in a horror movie moment: Every scene with Jeff. Every scene with the annoying, bad actress doctor. Wait, that's the whole movie.

See Saw schedule:
  • Day 1 (10/15): Saw (2004)
  • Day 2 (10/16): Saw II (2005)
  • Day 3 (10/19): Saw III (2006)
  • Day 4 (10/20): Saw IV (2007)
  • Day 5 (10/21): Saw V (2008)
  • Day 6 (10/23): Saw VI (2009)