Another Halloween, another Saw movie.  And for those who want even more, Saw IV is coming to theaters next Halloween.  This is the perfect franchise.  It's relatively inexpensive to churn out sequels that star middle to bottom tier actors.  Not much of a story is required, just elaborate rituals of gore and violence.  Saw III thankfully adds in some much needed back story, all while upping the gore and the lame attempts at scaring people.  This installment of Saw has by far the most developed plot of its predecessors, and is hopefully a move in the right direction (hopefully yes, realistically, no).

Saw II saw what seemed to be the end of Jigsaw (Tobin Bell, Saw II, Saw), and the emergence of his protege Amanda (Shawnee Smith, Saw II, The Island).  They are still kidnapping people and subjecting them to elaborate games, although now it is primarily Amanda.  Jigsaw is dying, and lies in a makeshift hospital room beside their warehouse full of gruesome homemade implements of terror.  This includes the stupid puppet that laughs and rides a tricycle - probably the dumbest horror icon in recent memory.

There is a bit more focus this time in James Wan and Leigh Whannell (Saw II, Saw), as if these two screenwriters are getting more deft in their craft.  They make an effort to tie the past two films into this one, and aside from a few random killings, the games focus on Lynn (Bahar Soomekh, Mission Impossible III, Crash) and Jeff (Angus MacFadyen, Equilibrium, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood).  Lynn is a doctor who is having an affair and neglecting her family.  Jigsaw kidnaps her and hooks up her to a device that is connected to his heart rate.  She is tasked with keeping him alive.  If he dies, she dies.  Jeff still mourning the death of his son, killed a few years ago by a drunk driver.  Jigsaw presents him with a series of challenges.  Each one contains somebody somehow connected with his son's death.  Jeff can choose to seek revenge on these people, or save them.

Director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II) focuses the story more than before, then proceeds to ruin it with standard horror movie shenanigans.  The music and sound effects are loud and overbearing, and tend to foreshadow anything that happens a bit too obviously.  Don't want to see gore?  Just keep the eyes closed when the sound hits a fever pitch.  There's no suspense, just noise.  The camera refuses to sit still, going all over the place in a near headache-inducing manner.  So while there may be more plot and reason to watch, it also makes one wonder - how does Jigsaw compile all this information?  When does he have time to do it?  Yes, he's probably insane, but couldn't he spend his time doing something else?

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 47 minutes, Rated R for strong grisly violence and gore, sequences of terror and torture, nudity and language.

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