01/12/2006. Contributed by Frank Ochieng
Consistency is the key to discipline ... at least according to Frank's personal philosophy. If anything, give credit where credit is due in terms of Saw III sticking to its sick-minded cinematic agenda. For starters, director Darren Lynn Bousman is back at the creepy controls in his effort to helm another macabre mincemeat sideshow.
Secondly, the gimmick of releasing a Saw flick around the Halloween season has taken on a tasty twisted tradition (the original Saw was released around Halloween 2004, Saw II around Halloween 2005 and now Saw III slated for Halloween 2006...anyway, we get the idea!). And of course Saw leading lunatic Jigsaw (Tobin Bell)-along with favourite horror harpy Amanda (Shawnee Smith)-is back and in full demented force with his usual disarming, murderous personality in tow. So at least the Saw movie series sticks to its grimy guns when faithfully following its frenzied formula.
Well, some movie critics (yours truly included) can also be structured in their consistency to hold on to the scepticism involving these repetitive banal bloodbaths. As Saw III wallows in its continued glorious gore without the slightest of imaginative impishness, the critical consensus will also remain the same from my poisoned pen-Saw III is still another simplistic and senseless slasher flick that never really cuts into the matter with the frivolous flair intended. No matter how you slice it or dice it, Jigsaw's throat-cutting theatrics have long expired and the Saw franchise is getting dangerously close to turning the mangled bloody body business into tedious and tripe titillation.
The preposterous premise is actually quite challenging. Jigsaw is the delusional game show host who likes to push his periled contestants to the brink of despair. His warped thought process forces the victims to make a critical choice in terms of their living conditions no matter how favourable or unfavourable the predicament may be at hand. The very notion of a maddening menace such as Jigsaw to play judge, jury and executioner over clueless sheep is bizarrely comical. But unfortunately Bousman and screenwriter Leigh Whannell up the ante and go to the well once too often with exaggerated death-defying dilemmas that renders the putrid proceedings more of a mockery than anything else. Saw III loves to swim in its glorified grotesque gumption but it leaves the audience cold when trying to convey the method of its monotonous madness.
The refreshing vulnerability, unlike some other movie monsters, is that Saw III's leading loony tune is susceptible to pain and agony. In this instance, Jigsaw is bedridden with serious medical woes (he's stricken with terminal cancer). His former pretty prey turned reliable henchwoman and eager beaver assistant Amanda is in desperate mode to make sure that her ailing mentor gets the medical attention that he requires. Not missing a single beat, Amanda ends up abducting a surgeon with domestic problems named Lynn (Bahar Soomekh) from the local hospital.
The pressure is on Lynn to successfully perform her surgical duties on Jigsaw. To keep her "inspired" in her handling of his treatment, there's an explosive gunpowder concoction around her collar destined to go off should the good doctor either a.) fail to restart Jigswa's heart beat or b.) try any funny stuff that will cause Jigsaw's demise. Either way, Lynn is caught in the middle of Jigsaw's lopsided legacy and Amanda's blind ambition to inherit his morose mind-boggling tendencies. As Lynn works on the weakened Jigsaw, Amanda faithfully monitors his gruesome games in progress.
Not that far away from Jigsaw's emergency operation in his dilapidated building, sitting duck Jeff (Angus Macfadyen) is the latest participant in Jigsaw's shocking game play maze. Still licking his saddened wounds over his late son's accidental death, Jeff seeks retribution on the offender and wants to make sure that his payback registers with the right measure of revenge. Just how far can the grieving father go before he realizes that the tricky and treacherous Jigsaw has his perverse playful limits as well?
Saw III certainly is not the only horror flick guilty of looking to heighten the stakes of its outrageousness thanks to healthy doses of unnecessary gratuitous violence. In fact, Saw III is considered rather tame in comparison to its previous instalments. The mentality exists that contemporary shock schlock cinema should somehow raise the bar and create an illusion of messy mayhem to justify the entertainment value.
Sure, today's gross-out showcases are ridiculously farfetched in filthiness. Still, it's a crying shame that Saw III and its contemporaries cannot translate the bone-crushing and blood-squirting antics into something more cunningly crafty. After displaying horrific deaths, female nudity and rotted pig carcasses for an encore, the sleazy factor in Saw III feels aimlessly overwrought if not undernourished in its redundant mode.
As Saw's resident sadist, Bell's Jigsaw was a breath of fresh air in that he was unique as a ravenous rascal looking to put a weird spin on his ominous schoolyard slaughtering. No doubt Jigsaw is an obscene oddity and he shouldn't be relegated to the one-dimensional confines of villainous vigilantes out to erratically scar an indifferent world that in return scarred them. Because Jigsaw is colourfully crude, complicated and sadistically introspective, the fervid fright flicks that highlight his insatiable angst should at least be worthy of the intensity of its boisterous bleakness.
In conclusion, the Jigsaw chaotic chronicles have run its corrosive course.
© Frank Ochieng 2006