Saw III

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Saw III
Saw3 cape10.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Produced by Mark Burg
Gregg Hoffman
Oren Koules
Screenplay by Leigh Whannell
Story by James Wan
Leigh Whannell
Starring Tobin Bell
Shawnee Smith
Angus Macfadyen
Bahar Soomekh
Dina Meyer
Music by Charlie Clouser
Cinematography David A. Armstrong
Edited by Kevin Greutert
Production
company
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release dates
  • October 27, 2006 (2006-10-27)
Running time 108 minutes
120 minutes (Director's Cut)
Country Canada
United States
Language English
Budget US$10 million
Box office US$164,874,275

Saw III is a 2006 Canadian-American[1] horror film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman from a screenplay by Leigh Whannell and story by James Wan and Whannell. Wan and Whannell directed and wrote Saw and Bousman wrote and directed Saw II. It is the third installment in the seven-part Saw franchise and stars Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Angus Macfadyen, Bahar Soomekh, Dina Meyer, and Donnie Wahlberg. Bell, Smith, Meyer, Wahlberg and Lyriq Bent reprise their roles from the previous films. Franky G and Timothy Burd from Saw II make small cameos. Saw III marks the first appearances of Costas Mandylor and Betsy Russell, albeit minor roles; they would later become major characters in the series.

The story follows Jeff Denlon - After his son is killed in a car crash; he is put in a series of tests by Jigsaw in order to try and let go of his vengeance on the man that killed him. Meanwhile a bed-ridden John Kramer has ordered his apprentice Amanda Young to kidnap Jeff's wife, Lynn, in order to keep him alive for one final test before he dies of his illness.

Production began right after Saw II's successful opening weekend. Filming took place in Toronto from May to June 2006. Whannell aimed to make the story more emotional than previous installments, particularly with the Amanda and Jigsaw storyline. The film is dedicated to producer Gregg Hoffman who died on December 4, 2005.[2][3]

Saw III was released on October 27, 2006 and was a financial success, opening to $33.6 million and grossing $80.2 million in the United States and Canada. It is the highest-grossing film of the series in the international market with $84.6 million and the highest-grossing film in the series with $164.8 million worldwide. It received mixed to negative reviews from critics. Bell was nominated for "Best Villain" at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards and the film received nominations for a Saturn Award as "Best Horror Film" and Teen Choice Award. Saw III was released to DVD and Blu-ray Disc on January 23, 2007 and topped the charts selling 2.5 million units in its first week. It was followed by Saw IV, released in October 2007.

Plot[edit]

Minutes after Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith) seals him in the bathroom, Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) escapes his shackle by breaking his foot with a toilet tank cover. Six months later, a SWAT team led by Lieutenant Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent) discovers the site of a game in which the victim, Troy (J. Larose), had to rip chains from his flesh to escape a bomb. Detectives Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) and Allison Kerry (Dina Meyer), who is guilt-ridden over Matthews' disappearance, are called to the scene. Kerry notes that the door to the room was welded shut, breaking Jigsaw's modus operandi of giving his victims a chance to escape. She is abducted from her home that night while reviewing Troy's tape, awakening in a harness hooked into her ribs. Although she is able to unlock it with a key retrieved from a suspended beaker of acid before the timer expires the harness tears her rib cage apart anyway, killing her.

Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh), a depressed doctor, is abducted from her hospital and brought by Amanda to John Kramer (Tobin Bell), who is now bedridden from cancer. Her instructions are to keep John alive until the other victim, Jeff (Angus Macfadyen), has completed his game. As John explains the rules, Amanda locks a collar around Lynn's neck connected to his heart rate monitor: if he dies, or if Lynn moves out of range, it will fire five shotgun shells at her head. As she begins her game, Jeff awakens in a box in an abandoned meatpacking plant and is informed that he must undergo tests which will lead him to "the man responsible for the loss of his child". Flashbacks show that after his son, Dylan (Stefan Georgiou), was killed by a drunk driver three years prior, Jeff became unstable and vengeful towards everyone involved, neglecting his daughter, Corbett (Niamh Wilson), as a result.

Jeff's first test leads him into a meat freezer. Here he finds Danica Scott (Debra Lynne McCabe), who witnessed Dylan's death but refused to testify in court, naked and chained at the wrists between two poles, which begin spraying ice-cold water at random intervals. Though Danica eventually convinces Jeff to help her, she freezes to death before he can retrieve the key. His second test leads him to a large vat, inside which Judge Halden (Barry Flatman), who sentenced his sons killer to six months in prison, is chained at the neck to the bottom. The pit begins slowly filling with liquefied pig corpses, but Jeff reluctantly saves Halden by incinerating his son's toys to retrieve the key. Jeff's third test leads Jeff and Halden to Timothy Young (Mpho Koaho), his son's killer, who is strapped to a machine that twists his limbs one by one until they break. Initially content with watching Timothy suffer, Jeff is eventually convinced by Halden to retrieve the key from a shotgun trigger. Jeff accidentally kills Halden when the shotgun discharges, and Jeff is unable to free Timothy before his neck breaks.

After several unsuccessful attempts to reason with Amanda, Lynn performs an improvised surgery on John to relieve pressure on his brain. During the surgery, he declares his love for Lynn, while hallucinating about his ex-wife (Betsy Russell). Distressed by this, Amanda leaves to continue monitoring Jeff's progress. It is revealed that she continued cutting herself after John's cancer left him bedridden, and flashbacks show her becoming John's protege and kidnapping Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) prior to the first film. After John left him to die, Amanda returned to give Adam a mercy killing out of guilt. In the present, Amanda finds a letter addressed to her, its contents driving her to hysterics. Lynn and John talk privately after the surgery, and Lynn admits that her ordeal has renewed her appreciation for her family. Amanda soon returns with news that Jeff's tests are complete, but refuses to remove Lynn's collar. In the resulting argument, Amanda reveals she has become disillusioned with John's modus operandi and the tests she designed, including Troy's and Kerry's, reflected this. She also reveals that she and Eric Matthews fought when he escaped the bathroom, but she escaped and presumably left him for dead.

Amanda shoots Lynn in the back just as Jeff arrives, who retaliates by shooting her in the neck with a gun provided by John. As Amanda slowly dies, a deeply saddened John reveals that the game was actually hers: aware of the fact that Amanda's traps were inescapable, and unwilling to let an outright murderer continue his legacy, he desperately created a game to test her will for the subjects to live, hiding the fact that Jeff and Lynn were married as a result. After seeing to his wife, Jeff confronts John, who offers him one final test. He tells Jeff to choose between killing him and continuing his obsession with revenge, or forgiving him, offering to call an ambulance for Lynn afterwards. Jeff tells John he forgives him, before slashing his throat with a power saw. The door to the sickroom seals itself as John plays a final tape message, which reveals that Jeff failed his final test by killing John, the only person who knew Corbett's whereabouts, and in order to save her he must play another game. The tape ends as John dies, and the collar simultaneously activates killing Lynn, leaving Jeff trapped in the sickroom with the three corpses.

Cast[edit]

For more details on the cast and characters, see List of Saw cast members and List of Saw characters.

Production[edit]

Development and writing[edit]

Producer Gregg Hoffman unexpectedly died a few weeks after the release of Saw II. Writer and director of Saw II, Darren Lynn Bousman and Saw writer Leigh Whannell originally turned the offer down to make a third film. Whannell, Bousman, and James Wan got together to have lunch the day they heard of Hoffman's passing and came to conclusion that Saw III was going to be made with or without them so they decided to make the film in dedication to Hoffman.[4] Whannell aimed to make Saw III more emotional, describing the plot as essentially a "love story" between Jigsaw and Amanda.[5]

Whannell (right) and Wan (left) returned to write Saw III and also served as executive producers.

Bousman said they did not intend to have a twist ending, as distinctly as the previous films, noting that "I think most people will figure it out in the first 15 minutes of the film". Whannell added, "What Darren and I struck for Saw III was to have an emotionally impactful ending. We wanted something that would almost make someone who was really invested in the story cry. We have Jigsaw, this character who's been so cold and clinical, he's been presented throughout the previous two films as someone who's very much in control. He's more like a reptile than a human being. In Saw III he becomes a human being. You see him crack. His veneer cracks and that was what was most important to us far and above any sort of gimmick or twist".[5] Whannell also answered questions from previous films that were brought up by fans on the official Saw message board.[5] As with the previous two films, the ending was only given to the actors who appeared in the final scene at the time it was filmed. At one point the script was stolen from Bousman's chair, however it was returned before it was leaked online.[6]

Casting[edit]

Soomekh became close with Lionsgate after appearing in their film Crash (2004) and they wanted her in their next big film. Not a fan of horror films she found the role challenging. "I had nightmares the first month I was on set. We were shooting it for two months. People say because you're an actor it's not a big deal because you go in there and it's fake or whatever. But what they don't understand is that it's actually the opposite because, as an actor, when you go in there you have to believe it's real to make your performance real. You have to get lost in the mindframe of this character", she said.[7]

Larose was in Bousman's first short film titled Butterfly Dreams and helped finance Bousman's second short, Identity Lost.[8]

Filming[edit]

Saw III was given a larger budget of $10 million,[9] compared to Saw II's $4 million.[10] Principal photography took place for 27 days[4] at Toronto's Cinespace Film Studios[11] from May 8, 2006 to late June.[12] Production borrowed the bathroom set used in Scary Movie 4, which parodied Saw and Saw II, since it closely resembled the old set.[5] Almost all the transitions from one place to another were not made using digital effects; the transitions were shot on the spot. For example, when the camera moves from Troy's crime scene to Kerry being in the bathtub, Meyer had to run, take off all her clothes, and jump into the tub.[5] Visually the film is akin to the previous two with using quick cuts and fast-paced rhythms. Bousman said, "We're using a lot of whip pans and flash frames to create a dynamic feel".[13] Post-production services were provided by Deluxe.[13]

Trap designs[edit]

Bousman described the hardest scene to film was the "Pig Scene", explaining that they had to rush and it involved filming "so many moving parts".[14] The pig carcasses were made out of foam, rubber and latex.[6] The pig props had live disinfected maggots attached with honey.[15] Bell said in an Empire interview that the "Pig Scene" was his favorite trap in the entire series.[16]

For "The Rack Trap", Whannell originally conceived it as a trap that would fold a person into a box, though it eventually morphed into the twisting of body parts.[17] Bousman wanted to have a trap that involved freezing someone to death since the films have already touched on burning to death, bleeding to death and being cut to death. A body cast was made of Debra Lynn McCabe for "The Freezer Room" trap, but because of safety regulations a person cannot be entombed, so only a front or back body cast could be on the actress at any given time.[18] For the "Classroom Trap", J. Larose's character was originally going to be hanged from the ceiling by meat hooks, but it was decided against since he would not have been able to rip the chains out himself (as the script calls for). It proved to be a challenge since it is done with prosthetics and practical effects.[13][19]

Release[edit]

Saw III was released on October 27, 2006 in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. It was released in Australia on November 2, 2006 and on January 4, 2007 in New Zealand.[20] According to executive producer Daniel Heffner, the film was toned down seven times to obtain the "R" rating. According to Bousman, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ratings board was less concerned with the film's graphic violence because television shows like CSI have expanded the scope of what is acceptable viewing with their graphic depictions of crime scenes and autopsies. Bousman said the MPAA is more concerned with emotional torture that disturbs the audience.[21] In Japan, Saw III received a R18+ rating while the previous two films received an R15+ rating.[22] At screenings in the United Kingdom, five people were reported to have fainted at separate cinemas with three at one cinema, resulting in ambulances called.[23]

Marketing[edit]

The opening scene of Troy's trap was shown at San Diego Comic-Con International on July 21, 2006.[24] The same clip was planned to be shown before the opening of Crank in theaters on September 1, 2006. However, the MPAA would not allow it.[25] On October 10, 2006 Bell, Smith and Bousman appeared at Spike TV's Scream Awards to promote the film and the clip of Troy's trap was shown.[26]

Lionsgate's president of theatrical marketing Tim Palen thought of the idea to make 1,000 posters with a small amount of Bell's blood, which was mixed with the printing ink. He said, "We decided to do a poster and he's wearing a red cloak. I was talking to the printer and asked what we could do to get the deepest blood red. I asked if it would be possible to use actual blood. There was silence. He said, 'We could try, but are you serious?' I said I was dead serious." The posters were sold for $20, with the first being auctioned off; all the proceeds from the auctioned poster were donated to the Red Cross.[27] Lionsgate also held the third annual "Give Til It Hurts" blood drive for the Red Cross and collected 23,493 pints of blood.[28]

Soundtrack[edit]

Main article: Saw III (soundtrack)

The soundtrack was released on October 24, 2006 by Artists Addiction. James Christopher Monger of Allmusic gave the soundtrack three out of five stars.[29] Ed Thompson of IGN Music gave it a 7.2 out of 10.[30]

Saw III: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released October 24, 2006
Genre Heavy metal, alternative rock, metalcore
Length 72:01
Label Artists Addiction
Various Artists chronology
Saw II: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(2005)
Saw III: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(2006)
Saw IV: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(2007)
Track listing

Home media[edit]

Saw III was released to DVD and Blu-ray Disc through Lionsgate Home Entertainment on January 23, 2007. It topped the home video charts in the United States and Canada with 1.6 million units sold its first day and finished the week with 2.5 million units sold.[31] The "Unrated DVD" was also released that day and features a 113 minute cut of the film that includes more gore.[31] A 120-minute long Director's Cut was released on October 23, 2007 to coincide with the theatrical release of Saw IV on October 26. It also included an alternative ending.[32] The director's cut was released on Blu-ray in Region B on October 7, 2008, in France only.[33]

Deleted scenes[edit]

The original cut of the film ran for slightly over two hours, and several scenes were cut out, including a scene which depicted an extended scene of Kerry and Rigg examining Troy's trap, where Kerry reveals to Rigg she has had nightmares about Eric, and she blames herself for what happened to him.[34] Adam had more scenes in the original cut.[35] A scene that showed Jigsaw regretting his actions was cut. Bell said, "I'm glad they cut that scene. This guy knows exactly what he's doing. Does he start off with a model, then refine it? Yeah, he probably does. But there are certain things that are interesting and advance the story, and there are other things that are basically sort of backstory, and you don't really need to know".[36]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Saw III opened at number one on 4,700 screens at 3,167 theaters grossing $33.6 million on its opening weekend, a two percent increase from Saw II's $31.7 million. It held the biggest Halloween weekend debut for five years until it was beaten in 2011 by Puss in Boots ($34 million).[37] It was also Lionsgate's highest-opening weekend. Lionsgate's exit polling indicated that 69 percent of the audience was under 25 years old and 51 percent was male.[38] In its second weekend it placed number four dropping down 56% to $14.8 million, compared to Saw II's second weekend drop of 47% to $16.9 million.[39] The film was closed out of theaters on December 14, 2006, after 49 days of release.[40]

Saw III opened at number five in the international market with an estimated $6 million. It opened at number one in the United Kingdom to $4.7 million. In Taiwan it placed third and opened to $320,000.[41] For its second weekend it opened to number two with an estimated $9.7 million. In Spain it made $3.1 million, an improvement over the previous films.[42] For its third weekend, Saw III grossed $8 million, including Japan's opening on 86 screens with $1.1 million. Australia made $4.3 million, Spain grossed $3.8 million and Brazil made $3.8 million.[43] In its fourth weekend it placed fourth place with an estimated $5.6 million from 24 territories. Its best market was a second-place start in France.[44]

The film has come to gross $80.2 million in the United States and Canada and $84.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $164.8 million.[40] Saw III has the highest-grossing weekend in the series and also holds the records of highest-grossing in the international market and is the second highest-grossing film in the series worldwide.[45] It is also Lionsgate's fifth highest-grossing film in the United States and Canada.[46]

Release date
(United States)
Budget
(estimated)[40]
Box office revenue[40]
United States/Canada Other markets Worldwide
October 27, 2006 $10,000,000 $80,238,724 $84,635,551 $164,874,275

Critical response[edit]

The film was not screened in advance for critics.[47] The film received mixed to negative reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 25% of 83 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 4.2 out of 10.[48] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 48 based on 16 reviews.[49] CinemaScore polls reported that the average grade moviegoers gave the film was a "B" on an A+ to F scale.[50]

Variety's Robert Koehler gave the film a mixed review. He criticized the use of several flashbacks in the film, saying that it "[...] hinder[ed] the movie, ratcheting down its tension and pace". He explained, "A bigger problem lies with Leigh Whannell's script, which utilizes so many flashbacks and explanatory inserts that the tension, a defining feature of the first Saw, is lost". He praised Smith performance and called MacFadyen's performance "a strong, almost silent performance that conveys a pained father's dark night of the soul", and Soomekh as "reasonably convincing as the surgeon".[51] Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel gave it two out of five stars, criticizing the plot and acting.[52]

San Francisco Chronicle's Peter Harlaub gave the film a negative review. He said, "It doesn't go much of anywhere until the infuriating last 10 minutes, when everything is sort of tied together while still producing more unanswered questions. The movie seems at times to be told in random order, often with flashbacks, and the closest thing to a plot is a weak story about the father who keeps confronting the people responsible for his son's drunken-driving death". He pointed out he lack of realism in the script, saying "One incredibly large and intricate torture device in this movie couldn't have been made without four or five subcontractors, but we're supposed to believe a mentally unbalanced ex-junkie who weighs 100 pounds put it together in, at most, a few months".[53] Michael Ordoña of the Los Angeles Times said that "More gore is really all Saw III has to offer", saying that "the first few minutes cram in more graphic brutality than you can shake a bloody, pointed stick at". He listed other problems being "flat dialogue, uninvolving characters and a creeping sameness in the no-brain- required puzzles". He concluded his review saying, "Bottom line, those in the Saw factory know their audience and have brought along the appropriate buckets and bibs. Even devotees, however, may note pacing problems and tire of Jigsaw's selective omnipotence (he can acquire copious amounts of deadly nerve agent but not a bottle of Ativan?). Those who see Saw III are in for ups and downs".[54]

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C".[55] Randy Cordova of The Arizona Republic gave it a negative review saying, "Saw III is devoid of any suspense or terror or common sense. It's simply an exercise in gore. And really, if that's all the filmmakers have up their sleeve, why bother with a plot? Just show one grisly makeup effect after another and you'd create the same sensory experience".[47] Empire's Kim Newman gave the film two out of five stars. He said the acting was "surprisingly good" but criticized the script and torture devices, calling it "more contrived, and thus less effective". He ended his review saying, "It requires a stretch of the imagination too far, but there's still plenty of gore and tricksy murders here".[56]

Award nominations[edit]

Saw III was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Horror Film, but lost to The Descent.[57][58] It was also nominated as the "Choice Movie: Horror/Thriller" at the Teen Choice Awards, but lost to Disturbia.[59] Bell was nominated for a MTV Movie Award for Best Villain.[60] He lost to Jack Nicholson for his role in The Departed.[61]

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