The grotesquery has broken out of its face-cage for the third instalment of the Saw franchise, and it’s a beautiful bloodbath.
Loosely picking up where Saw 2 left off, Aussie boys James Wan and Leigh Whannell return to spin a new yarn about the sadistic – but revoltingly fair – Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and his partner-in-gore Amanda (Shawnee Smith, Becker)
But all is not peachy in Jigsaw's twisted lair. On his death bed, he is training Amanda to take over, and looking for one last hurrah before he succumbs. And that means one last victim...
It carries on the franchise admirably, continuing the tradition of stomach-churning, unflinching torture, mixed with a tight, compelling plot. Even though the violence is hardcore, it doesn’t fall into the trap of being superfluous – every movement made by every character seeks to further the already intricate plot, and for the most part, this is a success.
The characters, however, fail to entirely convince on a personal level. While the plights of Jigsaw’s latest victims are horrible situations, there seem to be far too many characters to gain a real empathy with any of them, and once the spillover characters from Saw 1 and 2 are dealt with, there’s too much going on.
Which would be okay, except for the fact that it's overcompensated for by the end when the patented 'twist' is revealed. It's as though someone is poking you repeatedly while chanting 'do you get it now? Let me show you that again, just in case you don't get it. Are you sure you got it? We could show you one more time.'
Likewise, the extra plot runs hand-in-hand with extra gore, and some of the traps seem unrealistically detailed and technological for two people to construct, despite how magnificent they may be.
Still, the Saw franchise has always based its appeal on spectacle, and there it certainly delivers.
It may not quite live up to the standards of its predecessors, but as a standalone film it is certainly a must-see for the more intelligent legions of horror fans.