" I found myself a father.... a leader.... a teacher.... "
Amanda speaking on Eric's tape
Amanda "Mandy" Young is a primary character appearing in the Saw franchise. 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, making her the tertiary antagonist of the film. In Saw III she became a secondary antagonist. The majority of the third film was centered around her character. She made a minor appearance in Saw IV and returned for flashback scenes in Saw V and Saw VI. Amanda and John are the only characters in the series to be featured in every movie.
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. 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 never learned how to deal with stress and emotional pain, and thus turned to self injury as a way of dealing with her problems. She was later framed and jailed by corrupt detective Eric Matthews, and while in prison, her abusive tendencies were replaced with heroin. After surviving the Reverse Beartrap, she quit heroin but eventually returned to cutting, and other forms of self mutilation. Because of her frail emotional state and mental instability, she is quick to anger, and often acts purely on impulse (such as trying to kill Eric Matthews, and later, Lynn Denlon).
A scene in Saw III where Amanda is shown cutting her inner thigh was not in the original script; there was only a brief scene that hinted at Amanda's self injury, 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 insisted that the scene be filmed and put into the movie. Still, some of the scene was cut, including a shot of Amanda using a cloth doll to soak up the blood from her wounds.
Amanda suffers from borderline personality disorder, as well as Stockholm Syndrome in that she sympathized with her kidnapper.
Appearances in the filmsEdit
Tapp: "Are you grateful, Mandy?"
Amanda: "He...helped me."
Tapp and Amanda in a conversation after her test
Amanda first appeared as a minor character in Saw. She was the only known survivor of one of the Jigsaw Killer's (John Kramer) games. Her trap is depicted in a flashback as she described it to the police and Dr. Lawrence Gordon: she woke up with a device on her head, set to rip her jaws apart. The key to the device was in the stomach of her seemingly dead cellmate, Donnie Greco, who was actually heavily sedated; she killed him and freed herself seconds before the device went off and sprang open. In the orignal script, Donnie Greco was written to be Amanda's drug dealer.
Amanda's tape for her trap
"Hello Amanda. You don't me, but I know you. I want to play a game. Here's what happens if you lose: the device you're wearing is hooked into your upper and lower jaw. When the timer in the back goes off, your mouth will be permanently ripped open. Think of it like...a reverse bear trap. There's only one key to open the device it's in the stomach of your dead cellmate. Look around Amanda, know that I'm not lying. Better hurry up live or die, make your choice."
After she won the game
"Congratulations. You are still alive. Most people are so ungrateful...but not you, not anymore."
"No, he's not. He is testing us and he wants us to survive this,
but we have to play by the rules!"
Amanda explains how to survive the Nerve Gas House
It is revealed in Saw II that Amanda started using heroin in jail, after being framed by Detective Eric Matthews for a crime she did not commit. In most of the film, she appeared as one of the subjects Jigsaw trapped in the Nerve Gas House, including Daniel, Matthews son (whom she allies herself with), and several others he previously framed.At the end of the film it is revealed that Amanda was in fact working for John, seeing him as a leader, a teacher, and a father figure, and agreed to become his apprentice and eventually successor.
Amanda claims that her experience in the first film ultimately saved her life, and this is what caused her to join John.
Saw III revealed that Amanda had been working with John since the first film; her first task was kidnapping one of the film's protagonists, Adam Stanheight, and shortly after Adam failed his test and was left for dead, she gave Adam a mercy killing out of guilt, to end his suffering. Flashbacks in Saw III also revealed after Matthews failed his test and was left for dead, he escaped and engaged in a vicious fight with Amanda, demanding to know the whereabouts of his son. Amanda eventually subdued Matthews and escaped. As Amanda walked away, Matthews taunted her, saying that she's "not Jigsaw." and that she's nothing. In the original script draft, Amanda was written to kill Matthews by jumping on top of him and stabbing him in the neck multiple times with a knife, but this was ultimately dropped because the producers wanted to bring Donnie Wahlberg's character back for Saw IV.
Amanda eventually went on to design her own traps, though unlike John's in which the subject had a chance of surviving if they followed the rules, hers were inescapable. Distraught, a now dying John decided to give Amanda one last chance to prove that she had what it takes to carry on his legacy. As he lay on his deathbed, John ordered Amanda to kidnap surgeon Lynn Denlon, who was tasked with keeping him alive until another subject, Jeff Denlon, completed his test. During this time, Amanda became upset 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 hallucinating about his ex-wife, Jill Tuck. It was later revealed that Amanda, in the stress of her situation, had resumed her self-mutilation. Amanda was instructed by John to read a letter that was left for her, the contents of which remained unknown to both of them. Upon reading it, Amanda broke down in tears. When Amanda announced that Jeff had finished his test, 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, but Amanda ignored him and shot Lynn. At this point, Jeff entered the room and shot Amanda in the neck. As Amanda bled to death a tearful John revealed to Amanda that Jeff and Lynn were husband and wife, and that she was being tested all along to see if she willed for Lynn to live. 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.
Seconds before dying of her wounds, John told her that he wanted her to succeed, and sadly relayed "Game Over".
In Saw IV it is revealed that the FBI was aware that Amanda is Jigsaw's accomplice when FBI Agent Peter Strahm tells Detective Mark Hoffman that John and Amanda were both physically incapable of placing Detective Allison Kerry in her trap, leading them to suspect that there may be a second accomplice. It is unknown how the FBI knew that Amanda was in fact an accomplice to John at that time, but its most likely that she disappeared after the events of Saw II, leading them to suspect that she was working with Jigsaw. By Agent Strahm, in the criminal records of Amanda says it weighs 50 kg.
It is later shown that the events of Saw III and Saw IV occured concurrently, meaning that Amanda was still alive during the events of the film. Her blood-covered corpse is found by Strahm in the makeshift operating room at the end of the film, shortly after her death.
Amanda reappeared in Saw V, but only through flashbacks and archive footage. In a flashback set prior to the events of Saw II, Mark Hoffman questioned why Amanda would need to be involved in the nerve gas house, and Amanda is seen lying seemingly unconscious on the ground as John and Mark set up the game. In another flashback taking place during Saw III, Hoffman is seen talking to John in the operating room, and questioned 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, and left the room through a secret exit seconds before Amanda entered the room with Lynn.
In a flashback set prior to the first film, Amanda, desperate for drugs, coerced Cecil Adams into robbing Jill Tuck's clinic for her, inadvertantly causing the miscarriage of John's son Gideon. It was shown that after surviving her test in the first film, John brought Amanda to Jill to prove that his rehabilitation methods worked, implying that Amanda was once a patient at Jill's clinic and that Jill had given up on her. When Amanda said that he helped her, Jill believed her and ended up becoming something of an accomplice to Jigsaw herself.
Amanda appeared in a flashback with John and Mark as they set up Timothy Young's trap prior to Saw III. It was shown that Amanda and Mark had a very competitive relationship and tense rivalry with each other. Amanda openly expressed doubt in Mark's abilities to set up mechanices of their devices properly, remarking that he was only ever really useful for "heavy lifting", and questioned whether Mark should be tested, reflecting upon the fact that she had already passed a test. Mark in turn openly expressed dislike for her, saying he was the only one who truly cherishes his life. Amanda's close emotional attachment and care for John was further displayed. Amanda appeared awkward and uncomfortable when she and John later ran into Jill as they exited the room.
Another flashback showed that Hoffman plotted to sabotage Amanda's test in Saw III. Knowing of Amanda's involvement in Jill's miscarriage, Hoffman blackmailed her into killing Lynn in the letter he left her, by threatening to tell John.
In another flashback, it is revealed that during Saw III, Amanda visited Corbett Denlon and told her not to trust the person who would save her (Mark Hoffman). This heavily implies that after Mark Hoffman rescued Corbett, she informed FBI Agent's Lindsey Perez and Dan Erickson of what Amanda told her, which forwarded their suspicion of Hoffman.
In Saw 3D, she is briefly seen in archive footage, from Saw II, in which she is seen in the bathroom with Daniel Matthews, while escaping from Xavier Chavez.
Appearances in other mediaEdit
The character is also featured in the comic book, Saw: Rebirth, which is set prior to the events of the 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 Video game, 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.
Amanda is mentioned in several case files in Saw II: Flesh & Blood. One of them reveals that Amanda disappeared after the events of the previous game and Tapp guesses she went off the grid.
Donnie Greco: Stabbed stomach open
Adam Stanheight: Asphyxiated with plastic bag
Lynn Denlon: shot by Amanda and exploded by the shotgun collar seconds before death from the bullet wound
Deaths Connected to AmandaEdit
List of Appearances/ActorsEdit
Canon (6 films, 1 game)
- Saw (First Appearence) - Shawnee Smith
- Saw II - Shawnee Smith
- Saw III - Shawnee Smith
- Saw IV (Mentioned, Corpse, and Archive Footage) - Shawnee Smith
- Saw V (Corpse, Flashback, Name on FBI Document, and Archive Footage) - Shawnee Smith
- Saw VI (Flashback and Archive Footage) - Shawnee Smith
- Saw 3D (Archive Footage) - Shawnee Smith
- Saw: The Video Game - Jen Taylor
- Scott Tibbs Documentary - 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.