Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Saw III (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

The judge pleads for his life, busting out the old chestnut of “don't become a killer like the guy you're after!”. This gets through to Jeff so he goes over to the incinerator and reluctantly pushes the button. Heartbroken, he watches his son's favourite toys burn away in what I'll admit is a very well done scene. The key pops out, Jeff using it to save the judge from the vat of never ending horrors. You think that was gross though? You ain't seen nothing yet, as the next scene is Lynn performing GRAPHIC brain surgery on Jigsaw.

Bousman shows this with medical level details of realism as I long for the days of Wan's restraint and off camera gore. The shit we've been subjected to so far even makes the last movie look tame, but sadly Bousman hadn't even hit his stride yet. I LOVE bloody horror movies but only when there's a point to it. Here, it's just gratuitous for the sake of being gratuitous because THAT'S what horror is all about, right? RIGHT?! This wasn't even some poor victim getting eviscerated, it was just to be a gross as humanly possible.

During the surgery, Jigsaw has a vision of a lovely blonde woman in the park. We also see Obi from the last movie walking past her, for some reason. The woman will be explained but Obi's appearance here never will, so don't get too hung up on any meaning. We see John in happier times with the woman, the two very much in love. Jigsaw, coming out of the surgery with the vision still at the front of his thoughts, says “I love you” as he touches Lynn's arm. This causes Amanda to shoot the doctor one of the DEADLIEST “if looks could kill” looks I've ever seen, like Lynn's survival chances weren't already bad enough.

Amanda goes to her room so we can get a glimpse into her state of mind as she pulls down her pants and begins cutting her legs. The last movie established she had a history of cutting in her past life, which apparently she's been hiding from Jigsaw who asked her to stop. This is mixed with flashbacks of her and Jigsaw, including the first movie where she captured Adam under the guise of Pig Mask. She brings Adam to the bathroom, where Jigsaw is putting on his Massive Headwound John makeup. We watch as they set up the trap and the clues, Jigsaw injecting himself with a sedative that'll “slow his heart-rate and relax his muscles” which I GUESS explains the plothole of how he was able to electrocute people in the first movie but I don't know... It really comes off as the filmmakers just trying to sloppily hand wave that plothole away.

Director's Cut: there's a flashback of Amanda reading a book, distracted by a noise. She sees Adam standing in front of her, but this turns out to be a nightmare. This NEVER should have been shot, because they already did a damn fakeout with Kerry seeing Matthews in the mirror!

The next flashback shows Amanda returning to the bathroom shortly after the end of the first movie, Adam still barely alive. She puts a plastic bag over his head and suffocates him to death, her idea of “helping him”. I give Bousman credit for this scene, which is shot in the dark save for Amanda's flashlight and is one of the best looking shots in the entire franchise.

We return to Jeff and the judge, who was never given a name besides Judge Halden. They've apparently been spending their time at the factory's laundromat, because their clothes quite clean for being soaked in pig shit a few minutes earlier. Jeff comes across the next box, this one housing a picture of Corbett on that back of a note telling him he's one step closer to revenge. The picture fits along with the previous picture Jeff has collected, a family picture in the making. There's still one piece missing though... The final item in the box is an empty gun clip that Jeff loads his bullet into.

The last door has “Here's Your Chance” painted on it, Halden telling Jeff vengeance will solve nothing as he steps inside. This door oddly doesn't close behind him, which surprised me. Inside this room is Timothy Young at long last, crucified by his hands and feet in a cross shaped device that is called the Rack. A tape player hangs around Timothy's neck, Jeff pressing play.

Hello Jeff. If you are listening to this that means that the confrontation you so long dreamed of is finally unfolding. In your head he is a cipher, a symbol of your life changing, a symbol of death. I present him to you now as a simple human being. His name is Timothy Young. He's 27 years old, a medical student with a mother and a father just like you, a man whose life also changed the day your son died. That day he made a terrible mistake.

You believe he didn't pay for that mistake and now is your chance to make him pay. The device Timothy is strapped to is my personal favourite, I call it the Rack. The human body is a miraculous creation. Ever wonder how far the arm can twist? This device is going to start twisting. There is a chance he might live though, with your help. To your right is a box. At the back of the box is a key. It's tied to the trigger of a shotgun. The question you have to ask yourself is this: are you willing to take a bullet for the man who killed your son? Does 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' apply here, Jeff? Make your choice.”.

A timer starts, announcing there's only sixty seconds remaining. NOW the door slams shut, but not before Halden walked into the room to hear the entire recording. Gears fire to life and Timothy's arms begin to turn. And turn. And turn until they've completely done a visceral 360. Halden tries to grab the key, but can't find a way to do it without pulling the string that'll pull the shotgun's trigger. He yells at Jeff that he needs to help Timothy, but sadly Jeff doesn't yell back “Then stick YOUR fucking hand in that thing and get the key!”.

After another Halden pep talk, Jeff turns towards the key while the Rack starts on Timothy's legs. Because Jeff isn't a total idiot like the judge, he realizes the key can simply be UNTIED FROM THE FUCKING STRING. He unties it, but accidentally pulls on the string at the last second, causing the shotgun to unload right into Halden's head. I don't know why that would kill him as his head was obviously empty to begin with. The Rack starts on Timothy's head, but Jeff can't find a place to put the key as the young man's neck snaps. Jeff screams out he forgives him as he sinks to his knees, utterly defeated.

Jigsaw and Lynn talk about her husband, the doctor saying before they were disconnected but now she'd give anything to see him. He starts talking about matrimony and the lies that go along with it, including wives sleeping with strangers in motel rooms. For some reason this really pisses off Lynn who starts going off on him, calling him a monster and a murderer, to which he replies AND I QUOTE:

I don't condone murder and I despise murderers.”. Yes, because Jigsaw has NEVER placed anyone into a situation they had no way to survive- except for all the times in the first two movies he placed someone in a situation they had no way to survive. Dangerously close to breaking down, Amanda goes to get an envelope Jigsaw mentioned earlier was meant for her. She finds a letter inside that brings her to tears, but we don't get to see what it says.

Jigsaw continues his conversation with Lynn, while pouring wax over a cassette that has “Play me” written on it. He briefly mentions her neglected daughter and husband, but before we have time to piece the deeper meaning of his dialogue together Amanda returns to announce Jeff has passed the third trial.

Director's Cut: Jigsaw has Lynn leave so he can talk to Amanda, Lynn exploring Jigsaw's lab and torture devices. Amanda attacks her after a bit, but eventually sends her back to Jigsaw's side. Again, this adds NOTHING to the narrative.

Jigsaw orders her to let Lynn go but Amanda refuses, getting very defiant and pulling a gun on the doctor. Jigsaw tells his protege that despite the gun it his actually LYNN who holds Amanda's life in her hands, Amanda spazzing out even more over whatever this is supposed to mean.  Jigsaw asks about Amanda's feelings towards the other test subjects they left alive, including Matthews. A flashback shows him leaving the bathroom, shattered foot and all. Amanda hears him in the hallway and tries to attack him, but he gets the advantage and BEATS THE SHIT out of her.
Bousman tries to reduce how disturbing this is by using some of the shakiest cam in cinematic history, but you can still feel every punch. Amanda holds her own though, kicking his injured foot out from under him and goes to leave. He starts taunting her that she's nothing, which causes her to stop and turn around, blood flowing down her face in another AMAZING visual. She starts ominously bearing down on him as the flashback ends.

Amanda admits to Jigsaw that she is a murderer, but Jigsaw reveals Matthews is still alive and that he's “cleaned up” her mistakes. He tries to calm her down, but she is way past the point of no return on the sanity scale. While this is going on we see Jeff use his key in another door, finding the last box with a gun and another note. The note simply says “last chance” on it, this time there's no picture fragment on the back. Instead the picture is under the gun, but the camera doesn't show us who it's of even though if you've been paying attention you already know who's in it.

He enters the next room, which is the one right outside the room the rest of our key players are in. Jeff yells out Lynn's name when he sees her, Lynn heading towards him but Amanda shoots her. Disappointed, Jigsaw tells Amanda she just destroyed four lives by murdering JEFF'S WIFE. At least this reveal wasn't telegraphed like Amanda working for Jigsaw, but it does make Lynn's dialogue with the guy in the motel room in the beginning seem REALLY cheap now. Who tells the person they're sleeping with that they want a divorce?

Jeff retaliates by shooting Amanda in the neck, Jigsaw telling her this entire game was HER TEST. Bousman turns on the “Saw Rapid Fire Ending Montage” machine to connect all the dots, as we see Jigsaw knew about Amanda's unwinnable games and was testing her to see if she could finally give someone the chance to live. She failed spectacularly, bleeding out and dying as Jigsaw announces game over. It sure is a good thing Jigsaw was going to predict EVERY SINGLE THING that happened that led up to this moment, because the slightest variation would have totally sunk his plan!

Oh but wait, Jeff's still here. Game on! This is the simplest game ever: all Jeff has to do is forgive Jigsaw and Jigsaw will call an ambulance to save Lynn, who is still clinging to life. Jeff, having spent the entire movie learning about forgiveness and the havoc vengeance can wreak on one's life, places his hand on Jigsaw and forgives him. Wow, that was actually a great payoff to this movie and Jeff's arc- wait, why is he holding an industrial power saw? Jeff slashes the saw across Jigsaw's throat, blood spraying everywhere as his heart-rate monitor begins to flatline. Uh oh. With his last act, Jigsaw produces a tape player and hits that dreaded play button.

Hello Jeff, I made this tape as an insurance policy if you will. And if you're listening to it, then it's time to collect. I was your final test of forgiveness, and if you are listening to this then you failed. Now you must pay the price, the price for living for nothing but vengeance. Now I will give you something to live for. I told you that you couldn't kill me Jeff, but I didn't tell you why, and the answer is simple. I am the person responsible for the loss of your child. I am the only person who knows where you daughter is. She only has a limited supply of air Jeff, and if you want to get her back you'll have to play a game.”.

WHAT.  Of a film full of worst moments, this just might be the worst.  Jigsaw has ALWAYS spelled out the full playing field of his games, I'm supposed to believe he wouldn't have mentioned Jeff's daughter at the very beginning of this trial?  What would he have done if Jeff HADN'T killed him?  "Congratulations, you pass!  Oh yeah, I also kidnapped your daughter for no good reason, she's down the hall.".

The tape ends as we get a brief shot of Corbett locked in a room somewhere looking scared for her life. As Jigsaw's monitor starts fading the lights on Lynn's collar begin to flash, the doctor screaming out her husband's name as it goes off and splatters Jeff with blood. Another rapid fire montage of scenes from all three movies plays out, the final shot of Lynn's headless body.

Director's Cut: Jigsaw dies before he can play his final tape. Jeff takes the player and sits next to his wife's body, looking very VERY demented and talking to her like she's still alive. He plays the tape and freaks out upon learning about his daughter, screaming at Jigsaw's dead body.

Cue the credits.

I get what Wan and Whannell were going for here, I can even appreciate it. After the last film's cast of approximately four hundred people, they wanted to bring the series back to its roots with a much smaller story focusing on one character. Their heart was in the right place, especially since this was made to honour their deceased friend's memory, but holy shit did their execution suck. Not only did we get the EXACT same last plot of the last movie with a father trying to save his child, but this was done with one of the weakest leads in film history. Jeff was horrible and I do mean HORRIBLE. Eric Matthews won us over with his regret and surprising vulnerability, whereas Jeff was just an asshole that felt like he belonged in the Nerve Gas House cast of the last movie.

Stories like this only work when we feel sympathy for the character, something the film never nailed down. I get Jeff's obsession with getting revenge on Timothy and how this led to a breakdown of his mental state, but brief flashbacks of him looking at his son's dead body don't cut it. We need to see the gradual decay of our hero's mind state, helping us to identify with him when he eventually hits rock bottom. Lynn as the star of the B-plot was awful as well, as her entire character motivation was “I'm dead on the inside” which doesn't exactly have her inspiring any kind of reaction from the audience besides boredom.

Another critical failure was killing off so many damn characters, something the series became known for to “keep you guessing”. As we've seen in much better stories (coughcough Game of Thrones coughcough) this can be used to GREAT effect where the atmosphere of Anyone Can Die keeps things constantly interesting, but Saw made the grave error of never bringing anyone in to replace them that was even remotely riveting. You'll see what I'm talking about by the time we get to the fifth movie.

This is also the movie that cemented Saw's status as torture porn, which for the first time in the series I agree with. Bousman's camera excessively tracks every single shot of Jigsaw's victims being tortured, because the devices the victims were in were NOT traps, just one way machines waiting for Jeff to diffuse them. Later movies would step back from this, but even so Saw III remains up there with the absolutely irredeemable Hostel movies as vile and sadistic creations inflicted upon the movie watching public.

Not a movie I can recommend for any reason besides seeing how awesome Shawnee Smith is, but if you're in this for the long haul like I am you'll watch it anyway. Just watch it keeping in mind an infinitely better movie is around the corner and try not to fall asleep, because there's some really important clues dropped here for later films in the series.

Read about the better movie here!