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Sunday, October 25, 2009

14. Saw III

Saw III (2006)
**1/2
Dir. Daren Lynn Bousman
Fright Level: 3/10
Scare type: Gore, mortification

I decided to give the saw series another shot. I doubt I'll ever decide to follow it up to 8 or whatever its going to go to, but the third installment, is actually the best of the three I've seen. The first one was a ridiculous mix of police procedural cliche's and death set pieces. The second was just a bunch of awful people doing awful things with overly preachy pretense. The third film really dispenses with any of that, any aims for a complex set up, or a large cast, and despite the fact that Bousman doesn't really seem to grasp how to move between scenes quite yet, can really allow a focus on personal interaction. This allows for some nice interaction and acting work on the part of Tobin Bell and Bahar Soomekh (Crash). It also shows, however, how out of their league the rest of the cast, Shawnee Smith most notably, are. Angus Macfayden gives a uncharacteristically poor performance, but that is most likely Bousman's fault; Macfayden is alone for almost all of his scenes, and his over-acting is way out of proportion to the tone of the rest of the cast.

So why is this the best of the series? The film is aware of the flaws in the whole Saw logic and revists and revises its mythology. Its power lies also not so much in the flagrant gore but in a rather classic grand guignol set-up and execution. In fact, the amoral tone of this film is sort of refreshing after the faux and hypocritical morality of the first two. The last 5 minutes, when the film replays what we just saw ten seconds ago three times, is ridiculous, and saying this is the best of a rather odd current in horror this decade is not saying a whole lot.

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