Director: Darren Lynn Bousman; Writer: Leigh Whannel
With Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Angus Macfayden
Available Oct. 23; List Price $26.98
There was a reason that the original Saw, back in 2004, triggered a rash of gory horror movies: it was pretty good, with the strong, simple premise of two guys, trapped in a room, using their wits to save their lives. (One man could survive only if he got free of his chains by sawing his foot off.) The film, which director-writer James Wan and writer-star Leigh Whannel made for $1.2 million, grossed more than $100 million worldwide, rendering Saw sequels as inevitable as the horde of Saw ripoffs (Hostel, Captivity, ad infinitum and almost literally ad nauseam). By Saw III, all ingenuity had been spent which didn't keep the kids away last October. The franchise is now as much a part of Halloween as grinning jack-o'-lanterns and flaming turd bags on the neighbor's porch. Saw IV opens this Friday.
Eight mins. longer than the theatrical version, but not much different from the "unrated" cut on DVD earlier this year, the current two-disc Saw III is for aficionados only. Even the director seems weary of the franchise's continuing attempt to take money from fanboys' pockets. Early on the extras track, Bousman says, "This is like the 18th commentary I've done for this exact movie." You will be tipped off, as if you needed to, when a particularly grotesque special effect is imminent, as when Bousman energizes himself to exclaim, "This is my favorite part right-here right-here right-here!" (Guy breaks off foot.) "Oh!"
Disc 2 offers a sweet behind-the-scenes treat: 10 tortures and how they did 'em. You'll see the craft that went into shots of a woman's chest cage ripped apart, a black man's body broken to pieces. Honestly, folks, which is weirder: taking pleasure in the depiction of pain, or being so anesthetized to it that you want to study the particulars of its creation? It occurred to me that the connoisseurs of these extras are like the Mr. Smith character in Mr. Brooks, wetting themselves from excitement at the sight of bodies in agony and life snuffed out.
Next Mr. Brooks, 2007