Film Reviews

SAW III

By • Oct 27th, 2006 •

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My bloodlust has been sated and the sun will rise tomorrow.

The Aztec empire ritually sacrificed 20,000 people per year. The victims had their chests cut open and their hearts ripped out. Critical to understanding the motivation behind the ritual sacrifices is the concept of “tonalli,” which means “animating spirit.” The tonalli in humans was believed to be located in the blood, which concentrates in the heart when one becomes frightened. This explains the gods’ hunger for the heart. Without this sacrifice, all motion stops, even the movement of the sun. So when the Aztecs made their sacrifices, as far as they were concerned, they were keeping the sun from halting in its orbit.
Let’s not be misled by historical intellectualism and cultural revisionism. The Aztec people must have loved the bloody horror of screaming, captured enemies getting their hearts waved in the air. And let’s not dismiss the finale of the bloody body tumbling down the pyramid while the crowd yelled in orgiastic pleasure.

I know. It was a deeply religious ceremony.

While we now frown upon human sacrifice unless it’s called “a justified war,” we allow our bloodlust to be satisfied by gory, blood-letting torture movies. The huge success of the SAW franchise is a testament to this. We’re all ready for an amped-up HOSTEL 2.
SAW III does not let its coveted core audience down. In fact, I’m impressed with the level of sadism. The story has also progressed. It is more complicated, twisted, and corrupt. Trust me – there will be a SAW IV.

The simplistic cruelty of the original SAW is gone. In its place we have more information about our favorite old wizened torturer-with-a-purpose, Jigsaw (Tobin Bell).
His jealous, compulsive slave-disciple Amanda (Shawnee Smith), formerly a junkie, is now an accomplished designer of torture instruments. She’s proud of her artistry. Amanda would have made Tomás de Torquemada proud.

When we last saw Jigsaw he was gravely ill and needed an apprentice to do the heavy lifting. Jigsaw’s motive – why isn’t just being evil a good reason anymore? – is to thrust certain hand-picked people into gruesome life-and-death situations and see if they have the resolve to survive, forgive, and become changed.

His newest “game player” is Jeff (Angus Macfadyen), a man whose life ended when his eight-year-old son was killed by a drunk driver. Can he forgive the people responsible – the witness who did not come forward, the judge who doled out a minor sentence, and the driver himself?

While Jeff is going through his tests, Jigsaw is confined to a makeshift operating room being attended to by a kidnapped doctor (Bahar Soomekh) who is also in need of some Jigsaw-style therapy. Amanda attaches a Speed-like torture instrument around her neck. The doctor must keep Jigsaw’s heart pumping or she blows up. Jigsaw wants this pill-popping doctor to save his life. He must have brain surgery. Though all around me were fascinated by the gory close-up operation, I hid my eyes.
Appealing to the fans of Jigsaw, we see more of him and there are flashbacks. Bell – he’s no fool, he had his agent re-jigger his contract – has a sex scene.
I’m kidding!

Director Darren Lynn Bousman, who directed SAW II, has given us more down time between the flaying of humans. Who does Jigsaw get to clean up the mess afterwards? Does he call in a crime-scene clean-up company? (It’s a niche market within the clean-up industry. It’s called CTS Decon — crime and trauma scene decontamination).
While Jigsaw waxes philosophical during his brain surgery, Amanda is hysterical she might lose Master Jigsaw. She is obsessed with Master Jigsaw and she is one jealous bitch. The doctor is good looking and Jigsaw likes her a little bit too much! Amanda also needs to vent her pent-up anxiety on her own body.
This is a nod to the self-cutters in the audience.
I shouldn’t ruin the ending for you except to say I am sure the box office numbers will keep this franchise going until, as is inevitable, we all go see JIGSAW VS. PREDATOR.

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