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Saw III Sickeningly Delightful

Erin McGinn | Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Graphically slicing through a human skull. A naked woman frozen to death. A man drowning in rotting pig carcasses. Images like these can only mean one thing – the latest installment in the “Saw” franchise has been released. Although not an amazing horror movie, fans of the “Saw” movies won’t be disappointed by “Saw III.”

The original “Saw” (2004) was a hit with audiences due not only to its violence but also its puzzle-oriented plotting – slicing and dicing its way to lead the “grindhouse” revolution in horror. It was followed by grotesque, but less clever, “Saw II.” The most recent installment, “Saw III,” takes the franchise back to its roots in both the pacing and storyline.

Picking up where “Saw II” left off, the audience learns the fates of Detective Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) and Kerry (Dina Meyer) as well as the whereabouts of the left-for-dead Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and his protégé Amanda (Shawnee Smith). Even from his deathbed, Jigsaw still plays games with his victims.

A couple of characters from the last installment get to “play a game” with metal fasteners, explosives and flesh-eating acid. And those are just the first few minutes.

The meat of the movie follows two of Jigsaw and Amanda’s victims. The first is Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh), a young doctor kidnapped by Amanda and forced into performing a dangerous surgery on Jigsaw. In order to not set off the metal collar laced with explosives strapped around her neck, Lynn must keep Jigsaw alive long enough to see the end of his other game.

His other game, and second main plot to the movie, follows Jeff (Angus Macfayden), a father bent on vengeance towards the man who killed his son, but received only a light court sentence. Jeff meets with people associated with his son’s death – the witness who fled, the judge who gave a light sentence and the drunk driver himself – who are all caught up in Jigsaw’s diabolical traps. Jeff must then decide whether to kill each one of them or offer his forgiveness.

Director Darren Lynn Bousman returns for “Saw III” after a mediocre showing in “Saw II.” “Saw III” is unflinchingly gory as well as visually frightening. Although “Saw” set the “grindhouse” sub-genre in motion, movies such as “Hostel” have upped the ante. “Saw III” doesn’t fail in delivering plenty of grotesque sights. It is a film meant primarily for hardcore horror fans.

Not only is the onscreen action frightening, but the story is significantly better than the previous two flicks. It not only works upon its own individual premise, but it connects back and deepens the plot developed in the first two films. As a trilogy, “Saw III” brings closure to the overall story. Although Bousman and writer Leigh Whannell have both signed off from the franchise, Lionsgate pictures announced yesterday that a fourth “Saw” will be coming out in time for Halloween next year.

“Saw III” is definitely the best movie of its self-created subgenre. Arriving one year after the last installment, it has a surprising plot and would make an excellent series finale. Unfortunately, it’s not the end.