Remember how the sequel to Saw lost the focus of the first one? The third seems to have found it again.
John, aka Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is in worse shape than when we saw him last (as if that were possible). With his protege Amanda (Shawnee Smith) still at his side, he recruits Lynn (Bahar Soomekh) and gives her a task: keep him alive until someone else completes a task of their own. The person Lynn must wait for, Jeff (Angus Macfadyen), seems to be on a collision course with the person responsible for the untimely death of his child. This time, however, the cops won’t be beating down the doors at the last possible minute because no one has told them what’s going on.
Leave it to Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures to deliver the goods a third time while still perfecting their craft. Along with the Final Destination series, only Saw can boast being a current, low-budget horror franchise that consistently makes more money with each subsequent sequel. Is anyone really surprised they’ve already announced a fourth film due for next Halloween? And don’t ask us what it’s going to be about, because only a few clues manage to survive this installment.
Along with the usual mind games and plots within plots, the other guilty pleasure of Saw are some of the most elaborate devices of torture since the Spanish Inquisition. It’s always fun to walk into a room with a character and experience the feeling of “What the heck is that supposed to do?” followed by the sinking feeling of “Oh my God” when Jigsaw reveals what it is. Unlike Saw II, which had a group of people haphazardly walking through a house randomly pulling and pushing things like adventurers on a dungeon crawl, Saw III is more focused, giving a man in anguish the opportunity to allow others to die for his own satisfaction.
The makers of Saw III earn your business not only for seeing the error of their ways in going too far in the last film. They demonstrate a genuine integrity for their series by reigning the story back in to its original core elements and even manage to explain a few things missing from the previous two films. Flashbacks provide new characters of interest as do a few obviously placed clues, so the filmmakers were very aware that the series can and must continue. As before, nothing here is for the faint of heart and the film wallows in its R-rating like a corrupt judge drowning in maggot-infested pig sludge. Fans of Saw will not be disappointed.
(a three and a half skull recommendation out of four)