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October 4th, 2009

In order to try and psych myself up for the upcoming Saw 6, which I have to go see because I've seen all the others, I have decided that I am going to try to redeem what I consider to be the worst of the franchise, which all starts after Saw 2.

It's no real secret that I am a huge fan of the first two Saw movies. I saw the original Saw after it had already been released on DVD. I bought it because it was a movie that I hadn't seen before and the second one was coming out. I believe I bought it with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and and Interview With the Vampire, both of which are amazing movies in their own right.

I popped it into my laptop and watched it at around 2:00 AM, after hanging out with some friends. That movie rekindled my fascination with traditional horror films. Not only was it inventive and innovative, but the plot of the original movies were two of the best and while not always the best acted movies that I have ever seen.


For those of you, who might be reading this and aren't familiar with the plot of the first two Saw films, I will catch you up on the major plot points of the first two Saw movies, the better Saw movies:

Saw: The movie begins by introducing you to the two newest contestants in a series of suicidal games that have been created by a psychopathic genius, John Kramer, who is known by his alias Jigsaw. The "serial killer" has been linked to a series of gruesome homicides because of the crazy situations in which several "victims" have been found and through missing patches of skin that have been carved out of their bodies, shaped like jigsaw pieces. The background of the story is told through the perspective of an FBI investigation.

The two newest players are Adam Faulkner-Stanheight, a photographer, and Dr. Lawrence Gordon, surgeon. They both wake up to find themselves chained to a couple of bathroom fixtures by their ankles, with a dead and bleeding body. They soon find that the dead body is holding a tape recorder and a gun. After a brief freak out session the two soon find out that they have been chosen to play a game. The tape recorder reveals that Jigsaw has put them in this bathroom and the only way out is to play. The object of the game is simple: survive. "How do they do this?" you ask.

The door to the room is connected to a timer, when the timer is up, the door is locked, with no way to escape. Dr. Gordon has to kill Adam, free himself from the chain that binds him and leave, but he has to kill Adam or their both dead. Adam just has to get out. You find out that both of them have been chosen because they have misused their own lives, so in order to make them appreciate their existence a little more, Jigsaw has forced them to choose between life and death. The goal of all of Jigsaw's games isn't to kill anyone, but just to make them view life in a different way and to force them to make tough decisions.

You also find out about a few of the other games:

The most important of which is played by Amanda, a drug-addicted, suicidal, cutter has her mouth wired to what is described as a reverse bear trap. A body lies on the floor. She has to find the key in the stomach of the body, that will release the trap from her skull before a timer is up and rips her jaw and possibly her skull from her body. The catch is that the body isn't dead. He's still alive, just paralyzed. He feels everything Amanda does to him, but he can't say a word.

This last trap is important because our lovely Amanda makes a return visit in Saw 2:

Amanda finds herself in another trap created by Jigsaw. This time, she is with a group of other people who have all been trapped inside of a house. Also in this group is Daniel Mathews, son of Eric Mathews (no relation to the cast of Boy Meets World). Eric is our new detective antagonist. The main two from the first movie died. The other people in the group, including Amanda, were all arrested and put in prison my Detective Mathews.

The house is being pumped with a neuro-toxin that is slowly killing our new friends. The antidote is being held within various personalized traps throughout the house. The group has to obtain the antidotes without dying, survive each other, and escape before the timer runs out.

Detective Mathews is also playing a game and has to listen to Jigsaw in order to save his son.

At the end of the movie, we find out that Amanda is Jigsaw's apprentice.

This leads us to our feature presentation:

I will be starting this multi-part blog series with the third Saw movie (Saw III)

(I will also be posting these reviews as I watch them. I'm currently watching the unrated DVD of Saw 3)

The new plot starts right after the events of Saw 2. The gore isn't saved until later. I cringe, oh how these movies make me cringe.

We are soon introduced to the newest Jigsaw crime scene and our new lead detectives.

Our first new player, Troy, is heavily pierced in critical places all over his body, some are just surface piercings, some are underneath bone. The piercings are attached to bolted down chains. Troy has to rip out each piercing and escape before a timer sets off a nail bomb.

Our spooked detectives soon start their investigation. This time Jigsaw isn't fucking around and targets one of our detectives directly.

Our first new featured contestant, Lynn, is introduced. Lynn is married. The couple's relationship has gone south. They're both obviously depressed and getting a divorce. Lynn is a drug-addicted medical professional and she is letting her personal life affect her job. She soon gets nabbed by our villainous duo. This time the game has changed. Jigsaw has terminal brain cancer. Lynn's game is to keep Jigsaw alive, or she gets her head blown off. Jigsaw and Amanda play a fucked up version of good cop bad cop and Amanda explains that Lynn has to keep Jigsaw alive until another game player finishes his game.

Enter contestant number two: Vengeful Jeff is trapped inside a crate on a fork lift with a tape recorder. Jeff isn't taking the accidental death of his son, Dylan, by a drunk driver very well, so Jigsaw is offering Jeff some tough love.

In a flash back, Jeff pulls some Robert De Niro stuff (think Taxi Driver)

The movie begins to switch between Lynn and Jeff as they go through their games. Lynn has to continually deal with Jigsaw and Amanda. Jeff wanders through a compound and runs into a series of rooms that hold some of the people that are attached to the death of his son. Jeff has blamed each of these people for Dylan's "untimely demise." Jeff has to choose to save them at his own risk or he can save himself. In the mean time Jeff gets to talk to them and face the people that he has hated for the past three years of his life.

The first three traps that Jeff's deals with in this movie rely on slow, agonizing methods of killing their victims. This gives Jeff a chance to get to know them before they die, to feel sympathy for the people he hated.

The movie really emphasizes Jeff more than Lynn. Although Lynn gets some cringe-worthy surgery scenes, the sensational stuff is reserved for Jeff. I remember saying that the thing that freaked me out the most were the surgery scenes, probably because you could imagine them actually happening to you in a cleaner manner at an actual OR.

This is one of the last Saw movies that I felt gave really interesting backstory and insight into the franchise's characters. Jigsaw and Amanda aren't just the masterminds behind all of these elaborate schemes and traps. You really understand their motivations.

To be fair, this movie isn't that bad, it's just the precursor to the next two, obviously not as good, films. It really lets the audience see into the mind of Amanda and how much of a counter point she is to John. It really shows her connection to Jigsaw and what he's doing. This movie really lets the audience see how deep the two characters actually are.

This movie also explains how some of Jigsaw's actions were accomplished in the previous two films and fills in what John and Amanda were up to. It lets you see into Jigsaw's methods and how elaborate his plans actually are. You really get the full story behind the first three movies.

During this movie they were trying to remove John as an active character in the story, so he doesn't do much, but what he does in this movie and right before it sets up all of the other movies. If you check the new trailer for Saw 6, I think they hint at maybe bringing him back.

There's some fun cat and mouse play between Amanda and Lynn too. Amanda's really a freaking psycho.

The traps in this one are interesting to say the least. With the exception of a few in the beginning, they're mostly about putting other people before yourself, forgiveness, and realizing that everyone is a person, just like you, no matter how fucked. Even in the worst of the Saw films the traps are always good and well invented. The reverse bear trap makes a cameo. As always the set up for the traps, with the tape recorders and videos are awesomely suspenseful and showcase the horrible traps really well.

You know, after watching Saw III, I regret including this movie with the next two. It's actually really, really, really good! If you like good movies, amazing writing, one of the best villains of all time, horror, gore, or the Saw series at all, or if you just think Amanda, Shawnee Smith, is hot, you should definitely buy Saw 1, 2, & 3. I would go as far as to say that they're really like one, epic horror film. They're all tied together in this one movie and are three parts of the same initial story that set up the franchise. A+++.