(This review was originally published in 2006.)
The number three tends to conjure up some really horrific images... Jaws 3, The Amityville Horror 3, Alien 3, Scream 3, Scary Movie 3, Hellraiser 3, and the terribly disappointing Halloween 3. Traditionally the third installment of any horror series is going to be just awful. Of course, there are always exceptions like the The Exorcist 3 (which I still think should be subtitled "The Apology".)
I can't tell you how pleased I am to report that Saw 3 was one of those rare gems that didn't take a third wheel nosedive.
I love the Saw films. I really do. The original Saw won my heart for being one of the small handful of films that I didn't catch on to the ending within 30 minutes of the opening credits. Saw 2 kept me laughing like a hyena in regards to its twisted creativity. I really didn't expect the third one to keep up with those standards, especially after what a terrible disappointment Final Destination 3 was to me.
But no, they really did a good job with this third and by all indications should be the last of the Saw series. At first, you're led to believe that Jigsaw is slipping from his original formula, which had me worried there for a moment. But soon it all becomes painfully clear what is going on. Unfortunately, I think fans of the Saw films will be able to figure out the ending about halfway through, but even armed with that knowledge it is still a rather enjoyable ride.
We get a lot of character background and relationship-building in this film, which explains about a lot of the unanswered questions in the previous films. And as a bonus, we get a backstage pass with Jigsaw that reveals how he was able to pull of such wonderful scenarios for his more famous victims.
The traps are still very creative, and I about fell out of my chair laughing at what I can only say is hands-down the most creative use of pork I have ever seen. The theme to Jigsaw's games has changed from being about self-preservation and appreciation of life, but this change really darkens the tone of the film and the audience can better relate to it. And as always, there are rules.
Of course, the blood element is still ever-present and those who fail to escape the traps meet with some rather hideous ends. So the gorehounds won't be disappointed, nor will those who just love trying to solve Jigsaw's ultimate puzzle.
I'd love to talk more about this film, but I fear that would give it away. But I do recommend it.
Film information: Saw III