I quite liked the first two Saw movies. The first once follows cops on the hunt for a serial killer, Jigsaw, aka John, who’s not exactly a serial killer because his victims are responsible for their own deaths – he kidnaps healthy people with a lot to live for but indulge in destructive behaviour and puts them in traps where they have to do horrible things to get out of the trap – and live. Sit there in apathy and do nothing, and they die. His motives are that people are apathetic about their good health (he is dying of cancer) and that he wants them to fight like hell to live – or die in their apathy. It’s twisted, it’s sociopathic, it’s cold, but it makes creepy, quasi vigilante sense.

In the second movie, he’s got himself a protégé, Amanda. Amanda was one of his first victims; she was forced to cut open a second (live) victim in order to get the key in his stomach which disconnected the bomb wired to her jaw. She was chosen because of her drug addiction and self-mutilating, and the last we saw of her in the first movie, Jigsaw/John’s gift of life had awed her as much as it had rattled her. We find out in the second movie that it’s so awed her she’s become he’s protégé, helping him set up his traps and kidnap his victims. She’s twisted, she’s sociopathic, she’s cold, but what she does makes creepy sense, and there was never an especially chilling sense of a woman being such a cold killer, because she is only taking her cues from John. I thought she was a terrific horror flick “˜bad guy’ because there was nothing she did or didn’t do different from her male counterpart.

Then came the third movie, and Amanda’s gone from cool, committed and calculating to emotional and erratic. Where the whole point of Jigsaw’s traps were that those could pit their brains and bodies against them would go free (his traps were, theoretically, escapable) Amanda’s started creating traps that can’t be escaped. She enjoys witnessing the moment when her victims realise no matter what they do, they will die; we see this as one of her victims pushes her way through the “˜challenge’ only to realise they key she’d retrieved didn’t unlock the bomb wired to her ribcage. We later find out that when one of her first victims escaped, she killed him anyway, and she “˜sympathy killed’ another early victim rather then have him starve to death. She doesn’t have John’s cold adherence to the rules. She’s sadistic and vindictive.

Then, she gets emotional as John becomes closer and closer to death; they kidnap a doctor to operate on him, and she alternates between tears and rage. John on his deathbed has more restraint then she does; so does the doctor, Lynn. When John hallucinates and mistakes Lynn for his late wife, Amanda grows visibly jealous. And when Lynn completes her task – to keep John alive long enough to see him through another victim’s series of traps – Amanda refuses to unlock the bomb around her neck.

In short, she went from a pretty cool horror villain to an embarrassment, not only to horror villains, but to women. Her motives were clear, she could be suitably cold and calculating, as much as her mentor. Then she became emotional, sadistic and vindictive, and blows John’s carefully executed scenario apart.

I could not imagine TPTB ripping apart a well-constructed male character like that for the sake of a storyline.


  1. scarlett says

    The first two are good movies for horror – I actually found John’s motives more intriquing then the usual some-woman-slighted-me-and-now-I’m-taking revenge motive. But I’m afraid I’ve just given away a twist to the second one ;( (For what it’s worth, it wasn’t as creepy as the first. The concept is one of the creepiest I’ve seen.)

    As far as production team goes – they changed director for the second movie, and the same guy did the third one. There’s one writer who’s on all three, and one of the writers from the third, James Wan, also wrote the first, as well as directing the firs. The second and third and directed by David Lynn Bousman.

    In all fairness, the two Bousman do feel like knockoffs. I wonder if Wan could have done a better job directing the third, although he didn’t bring anything much to writing the third.

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