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Welsh: Blood, guts, gore cannot replace a movie plot

November 2, 2006

For me, horror has always been a hit-and-miss category. Sometimes horror films have a really good story to them, or they may just portray stupid teenagers we love yelling, “Look behind you!”

In the past two years, “Saw” and its sequel were released, which deservedly fall into the first category. Unfortunately the latest installment, “Saw III,” never does reach the bar set by its predecessors.

It continues where the story left off, with Detective Matthews chained in a bathroom and Jigsaw once again disappearing into the night. With his protégé, Amanda, he creates another one of his cruel games that involves two people: Dr. Lynn Denlon, who is a surgeon, and Jeff, who after a few years is still grieving the loss of his son and seeking revenge.

Like before, they are kidnapped and dropped off at an undisclosed location. I was hoping that by the third time around the writers would have finally revealed to us how Jigsaw learns about his victims and their personal secrets, but annoyingly that information is never revealed to us.

For those who have already seen “Saw I” and “Saw II,” we learn that Jigsaw has a brain tumor that is slowly killing him, confining him to a bed and supported by an oxygen tank. Already, this game of his has started, and so he forces the doctor to keep him alive until Jeff’s ordeal is finished. If not, Lynn too will lose her life.

Unlike in the previous two films, which had incredibly complex and impressively interconnecting stories, the plot this time around is really bare. It seemed that before there was always another story below the surface, emerging in the end and shocking us.

This time around, we seem to be looking more at flashbacks, witnessing scenarios we’ve already seen before, offering little new information. Yes, people are still being killed in gruesome and horrific ways, but they seemed to last for shorter periods of time than before.

Simply put, there really were few surprises this time around. Unlike before when it may have been mind-boggling, perhaps forcing us to think of something like, “How did I not see it before?” That just doesn’t happen here.

The first film was terrific because it wasn’t a rip-off of “Halloween” or “Friday the 13th.” Instead it had an intrinsic story with plenty of originality and suspense.

It dealt with psychological pain on numerous levels, and what we may be willing to do for survival or to learn about the safety of loved ones. All the characters were introduced right away in the beginning and behaved rationally. That way, once everything was revealed to us, we could gain an appreciation for the movie.

I thought the second movie was great because it continued like before, only extending to include more characters and the astonishing connections to the first film.

The third time around, there is nothing new to learn from Jigsaw or anyone else. Sure, the blood and gore were realistic, but that was really the only positive characteristic .

I guess it comes to show that no matter how good a horror film may be, you can only make so many sequels until you run out of material to work with, thereby making further installments lame. In my eyes, that is precisely what happened here.