The film focuses on the resurfaced Jigsaw Killer, the antagonist of the previous films, who works with his unstable apprentice Amanda to finish his final tests before he dies. The film contains an additional back-story about the two antagonists.
The film has been dedicated to Gregg Hoffman, producer of the first two movies. Hoffman died on December 4, 2005, shortly after the official Lions Gate Entertainment announcement of Saw III.
Minutes after Amanda Young leaves him in the underground bathroom at the end of Saw II, Detective Eric Matthews looks around the room to see anything that would help him escape. He grabs the hacksaw used by Lawrence and Daniel in the previous two films, and upon noticing Lawrence's severed, rotting foot, realizes he must cut off his foot, otherwise he will starve to death in the bathroom. However, he cannot bring himself to saw his leg off, and so instead, he grabs a broken toilet tank lid (the same one Adam used to kill Zep in the first film) and bashes his ankle, breaking it and slipping it out of his ankle chain.
Six months later, another Jigsaw victim is discovered by Lieutenant Daniel Rigg and detectives Allison Kerry and Mark Hoffman. In his test, Troy was to rip chains from his body in order to flee from a bomb; however, the door to the room was sealed, making the trap inescapable and thus going against Jigsaw's methods. Kerry, who feels guilty over Matthews' disappearance, later awakens in a trap of her own. A key to unlock the device against her ribcage is within a beaker of acid; though she retrieves it, the device destroys her ribcage anyway, making her trap inescapable as well.
Jeff Denlon, a man who seeks vengeance for the death of his son, and Lynn Denlon, a depressed doctor, are also kidnapped under John Kramer's orders. Lynn is brought before John, now bedridden from cancer, by his apprentice Amanda. Lynn is given a straightforward game: keep John alive for the duration of Jeff's game. Should John die, or should she try to escape, the collar around her neck will fire five shotgun shells at her head. Meanwhile, Jeff awakens in the middle of an abandoned meatpacking plant and is informed that he must go through several tests, which will lead him to "the man responsible for the loss of his child."
In his first test, Jeff enters a freezer and finds Danica Scott, the only other witness to a drunk-driving accident that killed his son Dylan. By refusing to testify in court, she became an object in Jeff's vengeance. Danica is stripped naked and chained between two poles spraying ice-cold water at random intervals. She eventually convinces Jeff to help her, though she freezes solid before he can retrieve the key from behind frozen metal bars. In his second test, Judge Halden is chained at the bottom of a pit. Halden had only sentenced Dylan's killer to six months in prison, further fueling his vengeful side. The pit is slowly filled with liquefied pig corpses. In order to obtain the key that will free him, Jeff must incinerate his son's toys. He incinerates the toys and successfully saves Judge Halden. The third test brings Jeff face-to-face with Timothy Young, his son's killer, who is strapped to a machine that will twist his limbs and neck one by one until they break. Jeff retrieves a key attached to the trigger of a shotgun, but Halden is killed when the shotgun accidentally discharges, and Jeff is too late to save Timothy before his neck is fatally broken. With his tests nonetheless complete, Jeff moves on to the final area.
Meanwhile, Lynn and Amanda work together to keep John alive. During an improvised brain surgery intended to relieve tension on John's brain, he semi-consciously professes his love for another woman, who Amanda mistakes for Lynn. Distressed from witnessing this, Amanda leaves the sickroom to continue watching Jeff's progress. It is revealed that Amanda in her stress, and she recollects speaking with John and kidnapping Adam Stanheight prior to the events of the first film. Soon after, Amanda also finds a letter addressed to her, its contents causing her more distress. (the reason for her distress is revealed inSaw VI) Following the surgery, Lynn and John talk privately; Lynn reveals that her ordeal has given her a new appreciation for her family. Amanda returns with the news that Jeff's tests are complete, but she refuses to release Lynn, not believing she has learned anything. Amanda confesses that she doesn't believe anybody changes after being tested, and designed her tests to be inescapable accordingly, including Troy's and Kerry's. She also reveals that she and Eric Matthews fought after he escaped the bathroom, and that she managed to overpower him and leave him for dead. Additionally, she returned to the bathroom and gave Adam Stanheight a mercy killing, by suffocating him with a plastic bag.
After John's begging and imploring Amanda to let Lynn go, Amanda reluctantly shoots Lynn in the stomach just as Jeff enters the makeshift room. Jeff retaliates by shooting Amanda in the neck. A saddened John reveals to Amanda that Lynn's test was actually hers; she was being tested on her will to keep someone alive; she had not known that Jeff and Lynn were husband and wife. Amanda dies from her wound, and John gives Jeff one last test, where he can choose to either kill John or forgive him for all the pain he has caused him and his family. If Jeff forgives him, John will call an ambulance to save Lynn. Jeff takes a circular saw, tells John he forgives him, and slashes his throat. The door to the room seals as the dying John pulls out a tape recorder, which tells Jeff that he has failed the test by killing John, who was the only person to know the whereabouts of Corbett, Lynn and Jeff's daughter; Jeff would have to play another game to find her before she runs out of air. As the message ends, John goes into cardiac arrest and dies causing the shotgun collar to obliterate Lynn's head, leaving Jeff sealed in the room with the three corpses and screaming in agony.
According to the director's audio track on the DVD release, almost all the transitions from one place to another (such as from Kerry's trap to Chris' place, and Jigsaw's lair to Jeff's crate) were not made using digital effects. The transitions were shot on the spot. So when the camera moves from Troy's crime scene to Kerry being in the bathtub, Dina Meyer had to run, take off all her clothes, and jump into the tub. If you look closely, you can still see the water moving from when she got in.
According to Leigh Whannell, Adam had a lot more scenes in the original film. One of which was the scene between Adam and Amanda, included on the Saw III DVD bon
Returning CharactersAccording to producer Daniel J. Heffner, the film was toned down 7 times to obtain the "R" rating. According to director Darren Lynn Bousman, the MPAA ratings board was less concerned with the film's graphic violence because television shows like CSI have expanded the scope of what is acceptable viewing with their graphic depictions of crime scenes and autopsies. Bousman says the MPAA is more concerned with emotional torture that disturbs the audience.
A scene from Saw III was going to be shown when the action/thriller film Crank opened in theaters on September 1, 2006. However, the MPAA did not allow it, due to the scene's large amount of gore. For similar reasons, an early teaser trailer for the movie was removed from the official Saw III site. The next trailer released featured flashbacks of Jigsaw attaching the "reverse bear trap" to Amanda and applying his makeup for posing as the corpse in the bathroom from Saw. The ads played up Saw's yearly release dates with the tagline, "If it's Halloween, it must be Saw"
Around 1,000 special posters were made and sold for $20 each in support of Saw III. The posters were made with a small amount of Tobin Bell's blood (mixed with the printing ink). One such poster was also signed by the entire cast and crew of Saw III, and was auctioned off. All the proceeds from the auctioned poster were donated to the Red Cross.
At Spike TV's Scream Awards on October 10, 2006, Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith appeared on stage with director Darren Lynn Bousman. Smith pinned Bousman to a chair, saying "Payback's a bitch," while Bell staged sawing off the top of Bousman's head. Smith then found a blood-saturated piece of film on his brain. This led to a "World Premiere" trailer featuring the plight of Troy in the body chains trap.
In a promotional video featured on MySpace (with similar versions made for YouTube and Break.com), Billy, Jigsaw's puppet, addresses the viewer in the same fashion as in the videos in the film. He states, "Hello. Are you watching me on MySpace? Good. I'd like to play a game with you. Up until now you've...just sat there as a voyeur, watching other people in their videos without care about who that person is. Well, what do voyeurs see when they look into the mirror? Let's find out. Right now you are being watched. If you forget for one second that you're being watched, you will lose. Your only way out is to understand these numbers: 1, 0, 2, 7, 0, 6. Find the meaning and you will live. Just remember; knowledge changes everything." The numbers represent the release date of the film, October 27, 2006.
The original cut of the movie ran for over two hours, and several scenes have been confirmed to have been cut out, including a scene shown being filmed on... depicted an extended scene of Kerry and Rigg examining Troy's trap, where Kerry reveals to Rigg she has had nightmares about Eric, and she blames herself for what happened to him.
There was also reference in an interview with Bousman of a scene that was not shown Jigsaw questioning if he was correct in his goal: He begins to question because he's near the very end, maybe this wasn't right. Maybe none of this really worked. Maybe he is a murderer. Maybe he is a killer... For the first time, we actually see him break down and cry. Imagine your entire life's work. You're on your deathbed. You know there's nothing else you can do and here's how you'll be remembered: as a killer, as a murderer. Not as someone who helped people. Not as someone who changed lives. Someone who took away lives. The one thing he didn't want to be and, as he's on his deathbed, he's realizing this. The audio commentary also notes that Leigh Whannell's character of Adam had more screen time, including a scene in which he passes by Amanda at the entrance of his apartment that was also included on the DVD.
Playing in 3,167 theaters Saw III grossed a total of $33,610,391 on its opening weekend. With a production budget of $9.98 million, the film was already considered a box office success. Saw III ended up grossing $80,238,724 domestically and $150,907,724 worldwide. As of May 2008, the film has made $164,874,275, making Saw III the most successful film in the series worldwide thus far.
Reviews for Saw III were mostly negative. On Rotton Tomatoes, the film was given a 28% rating based on 87 reviews. The film was also given a 4.3/10, with Rotten Tomatoes saying that "Saw III does little beyond repeating its predecessor's tropes on a gorier level."
On Metacritic, Saw III was given a score of 48 out of 100. The score was based on 16 movie critics. Despite this rather mediocre score, the Userscore was a 6.4 out of 10, meaning that the movie was generally favorable with the audience. The Userscore was based on 182 ratings.
CinemaScore, another popular movie review system that uses letter grades instead of numbers based on the audience review, gave Saw III a "B+/A." Michael Ordoña says that "More gore is really all that Saw III has to offer." giving it a negative review.
Saw III was nominated for a Saturn Award for "Best Horror Film." However, it lost to The Descent. It was also a nomination for the category of "Choice Movie: Horror/Thriller" at the Teen Choice Awards, but lost to Disturbia.
Tobin Bell was nominated for his work in Saw III. He was nominated in the category fo MTV Movie Award for Best Villain, but lost to Jack Nicholson with his work in The Departed.
The DVD was released on January 23, 2007 in two versions, both of which have the same bonus features:
R-rated (108 min.) Full Screen *Unrated (113 min.) Anamorphic Widescreen, Full Screen
Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0 tracks
Three Commentary Tracks:
1. Director Darren Lynn Bousman, Writer Leigh Whannell and Executive Producers Peter Block and Jason Constantine.
2. Producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg.
3. Director Darren Lynn Bousman, Editor Kevin Greutert and Director of Photography David A. Armstrong.
Deleted scenes, including the fight scene between Amanda and Lynn, and the extra scene with Adam and Amanda.
"The Traps of Saw III" *"The Details of Death: The Props of Saw III"
"Darren's Diary: Anatomy of a Director"
Also confirmed are two exclusive featurettes to the Blu-ray Disc release of Saw III, which includes a feature on the writing of Saw III, and an "Amanda: Evolution of a Killer" featurette. These featurettes were also included on an exclusive 2-disc edition, sold at Target stores in the U.S. and Future Shop stores in Canada. They contain the Unrated Widescreen Edition on Disc 1.
The Unrated DVD, released on January 23, 2007, features a 113-minute cut of the film that includes more gore. On the commentary track, Bousman notes that this is not his original, two-hour-plus cut of the film, and that is why he released the Director's cut in October 2007.
The Unrated version of Saw III differs from the theatrical in many ways. The first noticeable difference is that the opening scene is more violent. The shots of Eric's heel being broken are much closer, and more detail is shown. When Kerry is discussing Eric with Rigg, the scene is slightly extended, showing her commenting on how she can't sleep because of his disappearance. When Kerry's trap triggers, a frontal shot is shown of her ribs being torn from her torso, leaving her organs exposed. Flashes showcase her innards dropping to the floor. The next noticeable difference is during Danica's Freezer Trap. A few extra shots show Jeff slamming the door, trying to get out. During the Rack, Tim's limbs are shown much more, showcasing his skin tearing as the bone shatters out of his skin. The flashback fight scene between Amanda and Eric is also extended. Amanda is shown hearing Eric's cries for his son, and seems distressed. While maneuvering in the corridor, Eric sneaks up on her and the fight resumes from there. The last and most major difference is the film's ending. In the theatrical, once the montage of the victims passes by, Lynn's corpse is shown quickly, before cutting to Jeff screaming, then on Jigsaw's corpse, and finally cutting to black. In the unrated, during the montage the music slightly overlaps, skipping a couple of seconds forward, and then showing Lynn's mutilated head, zooming in on the gory details, and then slowly fading out to white.
The original theater version was also missing a soundtrack that was meant to play during the scene with Timothy Young in the Rack.
A Director's Cut of Saw III was released on October 23, 2007 to coincide with the theatrical release of Saw IV on October 26. Extras on the 2-disc set include:
Three new audio commentaries: **1. Writer Leigh Whannell **2. Director Darren Lynn Bousman and actor J. LaRose (who portrayed "Troy") **3. Actors Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith (who portrayed "Jigsaw" and "Amanda" respectivly) *"Jigsaw's Plan"... A trivia game. *"Filmmaker Favs"... Texts about the favorite scenes/lines/details as chosen by the production crew and certain cast members. *"Looking Tortured"... Featurette explaining how to replicate certain make-up effects from the three movies. *"Choose the Death"... Commentary on 10 different traps (Primarilly from Saw II and Saw III) *Music video: "Killer Inside- Messed Up World Remix" (Hydrovibe featuring Shawnee Smith) *A clip of the first trap in Saw IV
This version of Saw III is the definitive one that Darren Lynn Bousman had originally intended (prior to being forced to edit the film seven times by the MPAA to achieve the R rating for the theatrical release), with a total running time of 121 minutes. A deleted scene reincorporated into this version of the film depicts a brutal catfight between Amanda (Shawnee Smith) and Lynn (Bahar Soomekh). In another added scene, Amanda appears to be having nightmares about kidnapping Adam before she finally decides to give him a mercy killing. This scene also reveals Jigsaw knew Amanda killed Adam. Also included is the original ending, which shows Jeff stumbling over to Lynn's corpse, playing Jigsaw's tape, then screaming before the credits begin. This tape is very much the same as the theatrical and unrated tape, except with some added lines, such as Jeff must "Pay the price for holding onto all that anger".
In the anime, Lucky Star, Saw III is seen as the movie that Konata, Tsukasa, and Kagami watch.
The future Jigsaw Killer, Mark Hoffman, is only seen once in this film for mere minutes, with only five lines, during the aftermath of the trap for Troy. Evidence of his eventual revelation is seen in his general attitude toward the victim's challenge and when he is seen stealing evidence from the crime scene.
1,000 special posters were created for this film (seen at the top of this thread). Actor Tobin Bell donated a small amount, from two vials of his own blood to be added to the red ink of the poster. The first print was then signed by the entire cast and sold at auction. All proceeds went to the Cross Red Cross.
Originally Saw III was supposed to finish the series with Lawrence Gordon being the main character, trying to save his wife from Jigsaw and Amanda.