It is I who will carry on John's work after he dies, and you are my first test subject.
Amanda Young is a fictional character appearing in the Saw film series. She was portrayed by Shawnee Smith. At first a minor character in Saw, she was revealed to be John Kramer's apprentice in Saw II and the majority of Saw III was centered around her character. She was featured in archive footage in Saw IV and Saw V, and returned for flashback scenes in Saw VI. Amanda and John are the only characters in the series to be featured in every movie.
When I was a little girl... my father would lock me under the stairs. I was terrified of the dark, and he would leave me in there alone. For hours........
Amanda Young's early life was never established in the films, although both writer Leigh Whannell and Shawnee Smith have worked on and discussed it. On the commentary for the Saw III: Director's Cut DVD, Whannell stated that as a child, Amanda had been neglected and abused by her father, which lead to her being filled with rage as an adult. A deleted line from the original script for Saw III has Amanda telling John that her father used to lock her in the dark for hours.
Because of her childhood, Amanda had never properly learned to deal with stress and emotional pain, and thus turned to self injury as a way of dealing with her problems. While in prison, her abusive tendencies were replaced with heroin. However, after giving up heroin after surviving the Reverse Beartrap, she returned to cutting, burning, and other forms of self injury. Because of her frail emotional state and mental instability, she is quick to anger, and often acts purely on impulse or emotion (such as trying to kill Eric Matthews, and later, Lynn Denlon).
A scene in Saw III where Amanda is shown cutting her inside thigh was not in the original script; there was only a brief scene that hinted at Amanda self injuring, in which Amanda is shown squeezing a razor blade (which was later replaced by a scene of Amanda squeezing a leather cutter). Shawnee Smith had been reading the book A Bright Red Scream prior to filming, and she firmly believed that it was necessary to show Amanda's self injuring tendencies (for character depth), and thus insisted that the scene be filmed and put into the movie. Still, some of the scene was cut, including a shot of Amanda using the cloth body of a doll on her bed to soak up the blood from her wounds.
Due to her behavior, Amanda suffers from borderline personality disorder, as well Stockholm Syndrome in that she bonded to and felt affection for someone who had kidnapped her. As an adult, Amanda turned to drug use and self-mutilation. She was later framed by corrupt cop Eric Matthews and arrested, at which point her situation worsened.
Appearances in the filmsEdit
Tapp: Are you grateful Amanda? Amanda: He.. helped me. Tapp and Amanda in a conversation after her test
Amanda's first appearance was as a minor character in the 2004 film Saw. She was the only known survivor of the Jigsaw Killer (John Kramer). Her trap is depicted in a flashback while it is described to the police and Dr. Lawrence Gordon: she wakes up with a device on her head, set to rip her jaws open. The key to the device is in the stomach of her seemingly dead cellmate, Donnie Greco, who was actually heavily sedated; she kills him and frees herself mere moments before the device goes off and springs open. In the orignal script, Donnie Greco was written to be Amanda's drug dealer.
No, he's not. He is testing us and he wants us to survive this, but we have to play by the fucking rules! Amanda explains how to survive the Nerve Gas House
It is revealed in Saw II that Amanda started using heroin in jail. She was sentenced to prison after being framed by Detective Eric Matthews for a crime she did not commit. She appears in most of the film as one of the subjects Jigsaw traps in the Nerve Gas House, along with several other people who Eric had framed (although far from innocent) for crimes they did not commit, as well as Eric's son, Daniel.
It is revealed that Amanda is working for John, seeing him as a father figure and agreeing to become his apprentice and continue on his work after he has passed away.
Amanda claims that her experience in the first film ultimately saved her life, and this is what caused her to join John.
She survives the nerve gas house, saved from the violent victim Xavier Chavez by Daniel, and upon the arrival of Eric, she abducts him as her first "test subject," and rescues John from his custody.
Troy, the door to his room was sealed shut, so he wouldn't have been able to get out when the bombs detonated, even if he escaped his trap. In the case of Allison Kerry, she successfully completed her trap, but it was designed to activate although Allison had unlocked the padlock at the front of the metal contraption attached to her ribcage. Distraught, a now dying John decided to give Amanda one last chance. As he lay on his deathbed, John ordered Amanda to kidnap surgeon Lynn Denlon, in order to keep him alive until another subject, Jeff Denlon, completed his own test. During this time, Amanda grew increasingly agitated upon seeing John being operated on and was hostile towards Lynn; especially when he told Lynn that he "loved" her, when in fact he was delirious and thought he was talking to his ex-wife, Jill Tuck, something Amanda did not know. Later scenes revealed that Amanda, in the stress of her situation, had resumed her self-mutilation. Amanda was told by John to read a letter, which contents remain unknown to both of them that was left for her. Upon reading it's contents, Amanda broke down and cried. When Amanda announced that Jeff had finished his last game, John ordered Amanda to let Lynn go. Amanda refused, saying that Lynn hadn't learned anything and didn't deserve to go free. John pleaded with Amanda to let her go, and that Lynn held Amanda's life in her hands. Amanda ignored him and shot Lynn. At this point, John revealed to Amanda that Jeff and Lynn had been husband and wife, and by shooting her, she had ruined "four lives". Upon seeing his wife shot, Jeff shot Amanda in the neck, fatally wounding her. As Amanda bled to death, a tearful John told her that she was being tested all along; tested to see if she could keep Lynn alive. He explained that by making her traps unwinnable, her subjects were merely victims, and she wasn't testing anyone's will to live, thus defeating John's original purpose. As she bled to death, John told her that he wanted her to succeed, but she couldn't.
During Saw IV, Amanda's ability to pick up the much heavier Allison Kerry's unconscious body into her trap near the beginning of the previous movie is questioned by the FBI, leading them to suspect that there may be a second Jigsaw apprentice. It is unknown how the FBI knew that Amanda was in fact an accomplice to John at the time. It is most likely that Mark Hoffman had previously revealed it to the departments to cover up the fact that he was an apprentice as well.
It is later shown that the events of Saw III and Saw IV occured concurrently, indicating that Amanda was still alive at the time of film's events. Her blood-covered corpse is eventually found by FBI Agent Peter Strahm in the makeshift operating room at the end of the film, shortly after her death. It is later revealed that John's second apprentice, Mark Hoffman, wrote the upsetting letter to Amanda in the previous movie. Shawnee Smith did not return to film any scenes in the fourth film and her character only appeared throughout the film through the use of archive footage from previous installments.
Amanda reappeared in Saw V, but yet again through the use of archive sound and footage. In Saw V, Mark Hoffman questioned in a flashback, why Amanda would be needed to be involved in the nerve gas house trap in Saw II. Amanda is briefly seen is this flashback, lying seemingly unconscious on the ground as John and Mark set up the game. In another flashback, in the operating room seen in Saw III, Mark questioned John as to why he was letting his emotional attachment to Amanda get in the way of his perception of whether or not she was truly worthy to continue on his legacy. Mark also predicted that Amanda would fail John. Mark left the room through a secret exit merely seconds before Amanda entered the room along with Lynn.
Another flashback showed that Hoffman had plotted to sabotage Amanda's final test in Saw III. Mark, knowing of Amanda's involvement in Jill's miscarriage, blackmailed Amanda into killing Lynn through the letter he left her. In the letter, he told Amanda that he would inform John of Amanda's hand in the incident.In another flashback, it is revealed that during the events of Saw III, Amanda visited Corbett Denlon in her trap and told her not to trust the person would be saving her that night(Mark Hoffman). This heavily implies that after Mark Hoffman rescued Corbett, she informed FBI Agent Lindsey Perez and FBI Agent Dan Erickson of what Amanda told her, which undoubtfully forwarded their suspicion of Hoffman.
Appearances in other mediaEdit
The character is also featured in the comic book, Saw: Rebirth, which is set prior to the events of first movie. It is revealed that while receiving treatment in hospital for his illness, John Kramer first notices Amanda. She is portrayed by fellow patient at the hospital who was being treated for an overdose that she had suffered from due to her drug addiction. John expressed frustration that Amanda did not learn anything from her overdose. This motivates John to design her test which was featured in the first film.
Scott Tibbs DocumentaryEdit
Amanda has a brief appearance in the short film Scott Tibbs Documentary which is available on the special edition DVD of Saw II. In the short film, she is harassed by a news reporter who wants information on her experience when she was captured by Jigsaw. In response, Amanda punches the reporter in the face and storms off.
Amanda also appeared in Saw: the Videogame, which is set inbetween the events of the first and the second movie, she is the first victim that the protagonist, former Detective David Tapp, must save. Upon being placed in the asylum, she was held in a poison/antidote injection trap to reflect her "intravenous drug use habits." Tapp rushed to save her and she proceeds to follow him around the asylum. However, she is soon abducted by fellow apprentice Pighead, this was done to cover up her identity as a Jigsaw Apprentice.
List of Appearances/ActorsEdit
Canon (6 films, 1 game)
- Saw - Shawnee Smith
- Saw: The Video Game - Shawnee Smith
- Saw II - Shawnee Smith
- Saw III - Shawnee Smith
- Saw IV (mentioned, corpse and flashback only) - Shawnee Smith
- Saw V (flashback, corpse and name only) - Shawnee Smith
- Saw VI (flashback and after credits) - Shawnee Smith
- Saw 3D (archive footage) - Shawnee Smith
- Scott Tibbs Documentary - Shawnee Smith
- Saw: Rebirth - Shawnee Smith
Several of the film crew behind the Saw film series have commented on the extent to which Amanda had been written to be one of the most important in the franchise. Marcus Dunstan has stated that "Shawnee Smith's character [Amanda] represents a tremendo us viable, emotional thread throughout the narratives." Patrick Melton, further stated that "I don't think we could have effectively told the story of Hoffman and John Kramer without Amanda." Kevin Greutert further stated that "She [Smith] did a great job, and she's [Amanda's] such a peculiar aspect of the Jigsaw character, with the fact that he had these tender feelings for this weirdo." Through interviews with Shawnee Smith, it was revealed that Amanda's evolution into the killer she was was at the end of which was partially due to a horrible childhood. A scene in Saw III explores Amanda's self-injuring tendencies, and shows her cutting the inside of her thigh. This scene was not orignally in the script, and instead there was a brief scene which Amanda is shown squeezing a razor blade (which was later replaced by a scene of Amanda squeezing a leather cutter), only hinting at Amanda self-injuring. Prior to filming, Smith had been reading "A Bright Red Scream," a book that explains the reasons one would turn to self-injury. It was Smith who insisted that a self-injury scene be filmed and put into the movie, believing it was necessary to show Amanda's tendencies for character depth.
Amanda displayed indications of guilt and remorse in her actions, as she had a nightmare of one of her victims in a deleted scene in the director's cut of Saw III. In her dream she was confronted by Adam for what she had done to him, thus further revealing the emotional turmoil that her character exhibited.
Jake Huntley wrote of the complexity of Amanda's character in the Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies. Huntley noted that although Amanda sets herself as notably different from the Jigsaw Killer, her attachment toward him and her desire to be like him are central to her character's state of mind. Huntley further points out that the biggest dilemma that Amanda's character faced is that she lost her sense of 'self' following her jaw splitter test in the first film. This is characterized by her claim to have been "reborn", symbolizing her neurotic desire to be somebody else other than herself. The viewer is confronted with a character who grapples with trying to understand her own identity as she simultaneously attempts to emulate Jigsaw's characteristics, while also setting herself apart as different from him. It is claimed by Huntley that it was this predicament that caused Amanda's gradual emotional break-down.
Speaking about her character, actress Shawnee Smith said that while she was not able to completely identify Amanda with that of herself, she was however, able to perceive several of Amanda's characteristics to be admirable nevertheless. Smith stated that: "When you first meet [Amanda], she's at the bottom, she can't go any lower and it's a combination of that and having nothing left to lose and finding someone to love and to sacrifice for. Obviously she's tragic, but ninety-five percent of her was capable of growing the strength to serve and sacrifice for another human being. Now that's rare and it takes strength, courage, practice, diligence and fearlessness to build that." Smith also stated that she attempted to find the human being in Amanda, and tried not to merely turn her into a "super-killer." Smith remarked of Amanda's relationship with Jigsaw that it was not so much an apprentice relationship, but that she perceived it as "a true friendship and a real partnership."
A critic from The Flesh Farm, a horror review site, claimed that: "I found Amanda the scariest part of the movie, not because Shawnee Smith can match the creepy gravitas of Tobin Bell... but the sheer notion of her transformation. Jigsaw, while not physically powerful, has the ability to reproduce his twisted world view in formerly sane people, including the ones he's 'tested.'"
Don Summer, a writer for Best-Horror-Movies.com, commented that Shawnee Smith did a "fantastic job" in her recurring role as Jigsaw's "trusty sidekick," Amanda.
A film critic for the website Angel Fire concurred that Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith performed very well in their roles. Particularly commenting on the third film, he went on to claim that "while Bell's Jigsaw played a major role in Saw III, most of the film is carried along by Shawnee Smith as Amanda" whom he believed presented an "interesting and intriguing character." He also expressed admiration for the manner in which Amanda began as a minor character in the original movie, only to have her character's prominence surely yet gradually increase in the sequels. He claimed that "You've gotta love the way her character has been expanded in the series from a victim in the first "Saw" movie, to a trojan horse in the second film, and to a major player in the third film."
Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith were nominated for the Spike TV Scream Award in the category of "Most Vile Villain" for their portrayals of Jigsaw and Amanda respectively in Saw III.
Following the release of Saw III, film critic David Medsker acknowledged the iconic status that character had attained, by labeling her as the "poster child for Stockholm Syndrome." It has therefore been suggested that she has become a fictional icon of the condition.
In a list compiled by Scott Collura for IGN of the top fifty villainesses in modern popular culture, entitled 'Top 50 Chicks Behaving Badly,' Amanda Young was ranked as number forty-two. Collura remarked that Amanda was so villainous that she made "a killer like Jigsaw look like the good guy..."
On Tom Cullen's list of the top five most noteworthy fictional female serial killers, as featured on Asylum Amanda was ranked as number four. In a list of all those featured in his list, Smith's Amanda would be the "most in need of psychiatric help."
Shawnee Smith has been acknowledge as a "scream queen" due to the roles she played in horror films, most notably her portrayal of Amanda in the Saw films. This culminated in the selection of Smith as a judge and host for the reality series Scream Queens, in which contestants competed for roles in Saw VI and Saw 3D.
Smith's depiction of Amanda in the Reverse Beartrap was used in promotional posters for the first film. The same image also appears on the soundtrack for the first film as well. A depiction of Amanda in this device was released as a collectable statue by Hollywood Collectables, indicating the iconic status that the character has obtained.