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Film / Saw III

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WARNING: All spoilers from previous films in the Saw franchise are unmarked here. Read on or go backmake your choice.

Saw III is the third film in the Saw horror film series, released on October 27, 2006 and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman. As opposed to the second film, which was based on an original independent script of Bousman's that was later revised by series co-creator Leigh Whannell, this film's screenplay was written exclusively by Whannell, based on a story treatment he co-wrote with fellow co-creator James Wan.

The police continue their investigation for the elusive Jigsaw, but find that his recent murders seem to go against his modus operandi of giving his victims a chance to live, as the recent traps have been designed to kill their victim regardless if they complete their task.

In comes the latest victim of Jigsaw's game, Jeff, a man who lost his son and has yet to move on from his death. Jigsaw offers him a chance to do so, but potentially at the expense of the people he feels were responsible for his son's passing.


As this goes on, Jigsaw himself is dying from cancer and aided by his apprentice, Amanda Young. To delay his inevitable demise, he kidnaps a doctor named Lynn Denlon to operate on him, thus placing Lynn's life on the line as well in the effort to save him.

Whannell and Wan were initially averse to the idea of a third film, but after series producer Gregg Hoffman's sudden death shortly following the release of Saw II, the two and Bousman convened and decided to make the film in honor of him. While the two creators intended for III to be the finale of the series, producers Mark Burg and Oren Koules' interest in continuing (considering the box office success the series had accumulated thus far) shot down this idea and led to the story being modified to leave loose ends to be addressed by future installments.


Preceded by Saw II. Followed by Saw IV.

Saw III provides examples of:

  • Accidental Child-Killer Backstory: Timothy Young was driving drunk when he struck and killed Jeff's son Dylan. He felt horrible about the accident, but that didn't stop Jigsaw from putting him in a trap to test Jeff's capacity for forgiveness. Despite his efforts, Jeff fails to save Timothy, who dies gruesomely.
  • Agony of the Feet: Eric Matthews cannot work up the will to saw off his foot when he's chained up in the bathroom; instead, he breaks it with a toilet lid and further snaps it down to slip it out of the chains. He then has to walk out of the room and ends up getting in a fight with Amanda with his foot essentially pointing the opposite direction, which is about as unpleasant as you'd imagine.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Amanda's death scene is dramatic and anguished, as she dies a slow and agonizing death from a gunshot wound to the neck. It doesn't forgive everything she's done, but with her being a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, there is a level of tragedy in it.
  • Attack the Injury: Amanda's fight with Eric pretty much ends when she kicks his broken foot, causing it to break even further.
  • Attack the Mouth: One of the chains in Troy's trap is hooked into his lower jaw. It's the only one he's unable to remove in time.
  • Ax-Crazy: By this movie, Amanda has become a nihilistic Serial Killer, creating deliberately inescapable traps and openly threatening to kill Lynn, which becomes her demise when the latter's husband takes revenge.
  • Being Evil Sucks: By the end of the movie, Amanda has realized how meaningless Jigsaw's path is, is wracked with remorse over her atrocious deeds, and ultimately dies a monstrous killer alongside her mentor.
  • Big "NO!": Jeff at the end of the film after realizing his fate (detailed in Downer Ending below).
  • Bit Character: Troy's only real purpose is to foreshadow the fact that Amanda has started rigging traps.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: This film is where the series really starts to earn the Torture Porn label, with the traps reaching a level of brutal dismemberment unseen in the previous two films and far more detailed, nauseating gore. Reportedly, at least two audience members fainted during the premiere.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Halden gets himself shot in the side of the head by a shotgun in a trap not even meant for him; he just happened to be positioned in the line of fire.
  • The Can Kicked Him: A flashback reveals that Amanda gave Adam a Mercy Kill to prevent him from suffering from starvation upon getting locked up in the Bathroom from the first movie.
  • Chainsaw Good: When his pistol runs out of ammo, Jeff uses a circular saw to kill Jigsaw.
  • Chronically Killed Actor: Kerry's death just happens to be another one of Dina Meyer's many deaths.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back:
    • In a flashback, Amanda goes back to deliver a Mercy Kill to Adam after John seals him in the Bathroom to die, because she feels immense guilt for bringing him there in the first place. She puts him out of his misery via suffocation, saying she's going to "free him" and sobbing the whole time while he tries to fight back.
    • Two deleted scenes of the film really help expound on why Amanda would feel this awful:
      • The first scene is of her in the lobby of Adam's apartment building, seemingly there to scope out the layout for when she comes back to abduct him. He walks down the stairs and sees her, and although he doesn't know her, he strikes up a conversation; he sweetly compliments her hair, invites her out to a Wrath of the Gods concert, and asks if he can take her picture, to which she genuinely smiles and says yes. Long story short, he went out of his way to be really friendly and kind to her, honestly hoping to "see her around," and she paid it back by abducting him for John.
      • The second is of her having a vivid nightmare of hearing something go bump in the night while she's the only one awake in the Nerve Gas House, and when she goes to investigate, she sees an apparition of Adam, who rushes her and speaks in a garbled moan, which, when played in reverse, is him asking her, "How could you do this to me?" She immediately bolts awake, breathing frantic and sweating.
  • Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing: Eric escapes the Bathroom by breaking his foot with a toilet lid to get it through the shackle.
  • Crucified Hero Shot:
    • When Lynn is shot by Amanda, her arms stretch out as she falls into Jeff's arms.
    • Timothy is restrained on the Rack in a crucified position.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Troy was mutilated by having chains pierced through his body, and was forced to pull them out before being blown up with a nail bomb.
    • Danica is left naked and tied up in a freezer room. She dies freezing to death when Jeff fails to save her in time.
    • Halden was set to drown in the gore of rotting pig carcasses ground up above him, but it's subverted when Jeff saves his life. He later dies a comparatively much less horrific death of taking a shotgun blast to the side of his face.
    • Timothy, the prime object of Jeff's obsession for vengeance, was set to get the worst death of the victims of Jeff's trial. He's put into a device known as "the Rack" that will twist all his limbs apart before his neck unless Jeff chooses to save him. Jeff fails to do so despite trying his hardest.
  • Darker and Edgier: After Saw II's downplayed shift from the first film, Saw III ups the ante further. Not only is it Bloodier and Gorier, but the overall storyline is far more bleak, featuring the first Death of a Child in the series with Dylan Denlon, and some characters like Jeff and Amanda are shown to be put through constant psychological torment. Plus, it gives a worse outcome to Saw II's relatively light ending.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: John's cancer has advanced considerably over the previous movies, and has by now left him bedridden and physically dependent upon Amanda, with Lynn being kidnapped in order to keep him alive until Jeff completes his test. In the end, it's not the cancer that causes John's death, but Jeff slitting his throat with a circular saw.
  • Dead Man's Switch: Jigsaw has his heart rate monitor hooked up to a device that will kill Lynn if he flatlines, which he eventually does when Jeff kills him. This example of the trope has a twist in that it's not about preventing somebody from killing him, but coercing them into keeping him alive (despite John's late-stage cancer) for as long as possible.
  • Death of a Child: Jeff's son Dylan died in an accident off-screen.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Happens twice early on. First, Eric seems set to continue his role as protagonist of the previous film, but he disappears after his first scene, only reappearing in a flashback. Next, it looks like Kerry will become an Ascended Extra, but she is swiftly killed. The actual protagonists turn out to be two new characters, Jeff and Lynn Denlon.
  • Delirious Misidentification: While undergoing brain surgery, John hallucinates that he's back with his ex-wife Jill, mistaking Lynn (a married woman) for her and telling her, "Love... I love you." This makes Amanda jealous.
  • Determinator: After Amanda leaves Eric with the same fate as Adam's, he smashes his own foot apart with a toilet lid to escape. Not even Lawrence or Adam thought of that.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: The movie is particularly sadistic when it comes to this, even when compared to other Saw films, but actually gives an explanation for it. The traps in the movie weren't actually designed by Jigsaw, but his now Ax-Crazy apprentice Amanda, who deviated from Jigsaw's philosophy in that she thought her victims were irredeemable and explicitly deserved an unpleasant death. She catches a bullet to the throat from Jeff's pistol.
  • Downer Ending: By killing Jigsaw, Jeff inadvertently fails his final test. Not only does he get his wife Lynn killed, as his flatlining heart rate triggers her collar to detonate, but Jigsaw uses the last of his energy to play a tape revealing that he is the only one who knows where Jeff's daughter is locked away with a limited supply of air.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: While she did support Jigsaw's testing, Amanda is revealed to be the one behind the inescapable traps. This is because she believes that death would be more merciful, and that nobody really changes.
  • Drowning Pit: The Pig Vat is a rather disgusting version of this, involving ground-up/liquefied rotting pig corpses.
  • Eviler than Thou: Amanda has been creating inescapable traps, unlike Jigsaw, who intends for his victims to survive. Played with in that she does this because she believes letting them live through the trauma they would have suffered afterwards would be a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Excessive Mourning: This is what brings Jeff under Jigsaw's radar. He's so totally consumed by the death of his son that he's neglecting his life and the rest of his family, to the point where his introduction to the audience is him scolding his daughter for taking a toy bear from his son's room. All of his games in the film are about getting him to let go of his obsession. Too bad he learns the wrong lesson.
  • Explosive Leash: Amanda locks a collar onto Lynn's neck that will discharge five shotgun shells into her head if John dies. Come the end of the film, Jeff kills John, thus killing her as well.
  • Eye Take: One of Amanda's main expressions throughout the film; it's her go-to whenever things go sideways with John, and the expression she has as she dies.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Danica, chained up naked and sprayed with ice-cold water in the Freezer Room; one movie critic once said that her scene may be the most un-erotic scene featuring a naked woman in all of horror movie history. She was originally going to wear just a tight T-shirt and panties, but the director Darren Lynn Bousman thought it would be too erotic for her to dress in such clothes and get wet, so they just decided to strip her completely.
    • Amanda has become more attractive in this film, and apart from her spending its whole runtime in a tight shirt, there's one scene where she pulls her pants down and exposes her underwear... promptly before running a large knife across her inner thigh, where scars are visible from prior cuts.
  • For Want of a Nail: If Halden hadn't died in such a stupid way, Jeff's confrontation with John may have gone very differently.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: One instance of note in a movie after the first film (which is the main user of this trope): Lynn's collar detonating takes place offscreen, and we only see the incredibly grisly aftermath.
  • Hanging Judge: Inverted. Judge Halden is, if anything, too lenient and essentially gives Timothy a light slap on the wrist for running over Jeff's son.
  • The Heavy: In this movie, Amanda is the one running the games and capturing victims, since John is literally on his deathbed from terminal cancer.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Subverted. After hearing Lynn's sincere words of wanting to turn her life around, he orders Amanda to release her shotgun collar and seems to genuinely see the error of his ways. Unfortunately, Amanda refused to do so, and once John sees Jeff learned nothing from his test, he decides to condemn everyone in his room to death.
  • Holier Than Thou: Amanda perverts Jigsaw's philosophy by making inescapable traps designed to kill the victims as she believes they won't change if they do survive, while arrogantly believing herself to be the sole exception.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Halden's reasoning with Jeff to not let him and Timothy die.
  • Immediate Sequel: The film's opening scene continues the ending of Saw II, with Eric escaping the Bathroom after breaking his foot to free it from the shackle. However, the film cuts from that and begins another storyline that takes place about several months afterwards.
  • It's All Junk: A brutal forced example. In order to be able to save Halden, Jeff must turn on an incinerator that will destroy his son's toys (which he's been keeping in pristine condition).
  • Karmic Death:
    • Jigsaw is killed (with a saw, no less) by one of his many victims. He even dies with a piece of him missing, like the puzzle pieces he took from his victims. His was in his head, perhaps symbolizing his sociopathy and lack of humanity.
    • Amanda shoots Lynn, then in turn gets shot in the neck by an enraged Jeff. As she slowly bleeds to death, Jigsaw can only voice his disappointment in her.
  • Kidnapped Doctor: Amanda kidnaps a surgeon named Lynn and fits her with an Explosive Leash to force her to treat (and later perform cranial surgery on) the terminally ill, cancer-ridden John. This was just one reason for her kidnapping, as Lynn is also married to Jeff, Jigsaw's latest test subject, and he wanted to put Jeff through a series of traps for him, all while seeing if Amanda, in the main purpose of the whole movie, would grant someone (Lynn) the chance to live instead of condemning everyone to an inescapable death.
  • Kill It with Ice: The Freezer Room has a victim tied up naked and sprayed with cold water to freeze them to death. It ends up killing Danica as Jeff fails to save her in time.
  • Locked in a Freezer: One of the traps sees this happen to Jeff and Danica, the bystander who saw Jeff's son die in a car accident. Jeff is tasked with saving her while trying to get a key that will open the door to the freezer, all while a naked Danica is sprayed with freezing cold water.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: Played for Drama. Lynn is abducted and held hostage by Amanda under the threat of death so she'll provide medical attention to John, whose health is rapidly declining due to his advanced cancer reaching his brain. Without a surgical theater or any real operating tools, she's forced to use a power drill and small circular saw to cut away a piece of John's skull and relieve the cranial pressure.
  • Messy Pig: A variant regarding dead pigs. The Pig Vat slowly drowns Halden in macerated, decomposing pig carcasses.
  • Morton's Fork: Even if Troy had been able to remove the final chain in time, the door to the room was welded shut. Technically, despite the attempt to rig his test, he could have possibly survived by cheating and removing the visible batteries from the bomb's timer or throwing the bomb out the window, but with the mercilessly short timer of a minute and 37 seconds and no foreknowledge of the door being welded shut, his chance of surviving is still virtually nonexistent, due to just how much of the time he would have spent getting out of the chains.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: A non-romantic example. Amanda does this towards Lynn, since she wants John for herself. If she only knew Lynn was really Jeff's wife.
  • Offscreen Inertia: Defied by Eric. After Saw II ends with him chained to a pipe in the Bathroom by Amanda and presumably left to die exactly as Adam did in the first film, the opening awesomely plays against expectations, with Eric grabbing a broken toilet lid and breaking his foot with it in order to escape.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: John seems to explain the rules of the game to Lynn as she's brought into his room. In the climactic flashback montage, we learn that the explanation, as well as the entirety of the test with Lynn, was Amanda's, and the rules were mainly meant for her.
  • Papa Wolf: All of Jeff's rage is over the death of his son. Anyone even remotely involved with the boy's death is responsible in his eyes.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The only victory Jeff can really be said to have is that of putting an end to Jigsaw and his apprentice. Not that it matters much, since it condemns his wife and daughter to death.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: When John asks Lynn how people will remember his horrific story, her response is short, but effective:
    "A monster. A murderer."
  • Revenge Before Reason:
    • Jeff's fatal flaw. He could have forgiven all those responsible, save them from death, and find peace for himself. He could have also chosen to live the rest of his life with his other family members, learning to live with his son's death. Yeah, he doesn't. The result? Every victim of the games dies, including his wife.
    • Averted in the case of Halden, whom Jeff forgives and saves, only for Halden to accidentally get killed in the next trap.
  • Samus Is a Girl: This movie retroactively reveals that Amanda was the eerie pig-masked figure who abducted Adam and Lawrence in the first film.
  • Seamless Scenery:
    • The camera follows Troy's body before panning to a rug in Kerry's apartment.
    • And after Kerry is killed in a trap, the camera pans from that to Lynn's bedroom.
    • In another scene, Amanda walks through the factory floor, passing the crate Jeff is trapped in... which is actually in another part of the building.
  • Secret Test of Character: Jigsaw does this to Amanda by asking her to let Lynn go free if she could keep him alive for the duration of his last "game". She refuses and kills Lynn, but it's eventually revealed in Saw VI that she did so intentionally because Hoffman threatened to reveal that she had a hand in the fact that Jill had her miscarriage if she didn't kill Lynn.
  • Shameful Strip: Poor Danica is hung up by a chain on her wrists while completely naked as she's sprayed with ice cold water in the Freezer Room. Jeff is unable to save her in time, resulting in her being turned into a Human Popsicle.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: In the first two films Amanda just looked like any average young woman, albeit a little scruffy, but after she was revealed as Jigsaw's apprentice, she wears a more revealing bright red outfit in this movie to go with Jigsaw's typical red and black color scheme.
  • Slashed Throat: Jigsaw ultimately meets his end this way, courtesy of Jeff Denlon and a buzzsaw.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: After two films as a central character, Kerry is the second person who dies in this movie.
  • Thanatos Gambit: At the end, a bedridden Jigsaw gives Jeff the chance of forgiving him or killing him. Jeff takes the latter option. In doing so, not only does Jigsaw's death set off the Shotgun Collar that leads to Lynn's death, but Jigsaw plays a tape (or drops it with Jeff playing it instead in the movie's Director's Cut version) in which he reveals that Jeff's daughter has been trapped in a location that only he knows about.
  • The Tooth Hurts: A What Could Have Been example. The commentary reveals that the creators wanted to have Troy pull his teeth out in the way of various promotional posters (including the one pictured above). Setting up his trap like this didn't go well.
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: A variant; Jeff freezes one of his cheeks onto a set of pipes while reaching for the key to free Danica, and has to rip the skin off.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Halden stands directly in front of a shotgun's line of fire when Jeff was willing to take the blast to his arm to save Timothy.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In this movie, Amanda starts designing inescapable traps, and she antagonizes Lynn throughout her test.
  • Unreveal Angle: Amanda reads a note moments before shooting Lynn, but what she's reading isn't shown at all. The actual text isn't revealed until a flashback in Saw VI.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Amanda's traps in this movie are some of the most brutal in the franchise, and she rigs them to be inescapable as she doesn't really share John's warped philosophy.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: When confronted with Timothy, he doesn't exactly feel too great about watching his torture device slowly kill him despite openly stating he's wanted to kill him for years. Jeff then tries to save him. Ironically, he didn't actually learn anything from this and tries to exact revenge on John after, which ends horribly for him.
  • Villainous Breakdown: We see Amanda methodically commit self-harm early on in the film. Towards the end, she does it again, but this time without the ritual, just cutting herself quickly. When she's forced to kill Lynn and realizes what a sham John's philosophy is, she's almost sobbing.
  • You Have Failed Me: Essentially the point of the Shotgun Collar. Lynn Denlon was kidnapped, put in the collar, and made to operate on Jigsaw. If Jigsaw died, then the five shotguns on the collar would go off, killing Lynn. They do.
  • Your Head Asplode: Lynn's demise, thanks to her husband killing John.


Video Example(s):


Jigsaw and Dr Denlon

The Jigsaw Killer's cancer has advanced considerably over the last three movies, and has by now left him bedridden and physically dependent upon his apprentice. But even on his deathbed, he is still engaged in the process of "testing" his victims...

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / DarkLordOnLifeSupport

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