Quite obviously, horror films didn't just pop up out of nowhere in the last six years, but if there's an axiom about movies that is mostly true and interesting, it's that films (and particular types of films that get made over and over again within a certain time period) are representative of their era. Welcome to George Bush's America and the "Saw" series.
With the revelations of abuse at Abu Ghraib, the Patriot Act, and the recent legislation passed by Congress essentially obliterating the right of Habeas Corpus, the "Saw" series makes sense in its cultural context. Without getting all political about it, simply consider what the "Saw" series is about: average people being pulled off the street, then tried, sentenced and tortured without the benefit of any of the rights accorded American citizens.
There are two ways to look at these films. One can analyze them as true horror films meant to scare people and incorporate a shared fear into a popular entertainment. The other way to look at them, and I fear the much more legitimate way, is as a form of entertainment that reflects cultural values. In the case of "Saw III" that leads to the arresting realization that torture is now apparently considered entertaining. Torture is entertainment. Torture is amusing. In fact, it's most amusing when it's somebody else getting tortured. There is a definite ironic interpretation to the "Saw" series. People watch because it reinforces the notion that torture is something that happens to other people and that those people deserve it. I'd be willing to bet that if some network aired the highlights of interrogation footage from Abu Ghraib on a weekly basis, it would be the smash hit of the television season.
I'm sure there's some logic and some link between this film and the ones preceding it, but frankly, I couldn't remember much. I do remember that Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) was sick, so we find him in this third installment on his death bed. His assistant, Amanda (Shawnee Smith) has kidnapped a doctor, Lynn (Bahar Soomekh), strapped an explosive device around her neck, and demands she operate on Jigsaw. This goes on while a grieving father, Jeff (Angus Macfadyen), runs a gauntlet of torture that has him trying to decide whether or not to let people live or die. All the people played a role in the death of his young son. Jeff has raised the ire of Jigsaw for spending the time after his son's death demanding and/or seeking vengeance and wallowing in grief. You'd think that Jigsaw would have better things to do with his time than torture fathers who've lost their children in tragic fashion.
"Saw III" really is quite representative of the world in which we live: repetitive, gory and unimaginative, with a morality that is defined by one man. Live according to his sense of right and wrong or suffer the consequences.
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