Amanda Young

Amanda Young

Amanda Young is a fictional character in the "Saw" film series. She is portrayed by Shawnee Smith. At first a minor character in the original film, her role expanded in the sequels until she became one of the most important characters in the series.

Appearances in films


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), a man who abducts people he sees as unappreciative of their lives and forces them into death traps. Her trap is depicted in a flashback while it is described to police and Dr. Lawrence Gordon: she wakes up with a device attached to her head set to rip her jaws open and is forced to kill a sedated man in order to get the key to remove the device. Detective Tapp reveals that Amanda was targeted by Jigsaw for that game due to the fact that she was a drug addict. At the end of the scene, she acknowledges on Jigsaw, nevertheless, that "He helped me."

aw II

It is revealed in "Saw II" that Amanda started her use of drugs in prison. 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 Detective Matthews had framed, as well as the detective's son, Daniel. In a twist ending, however, it is revealed during the film that Amanda is working with Jigsaw, seeing him as a father figure and agreeing to become his apprentice. Amanda claims that the test she experienced in the first film ultimately saved her life, and this is what caused her to join Jigsaw. She survives the nerve gas house, saved from the violent victim Xavier by Daniel, and upon the arrival of the elder Matthews she abducts him as her first "test subject" and rescues Jigsaw from his custody. Amanda expresses vengeful tendencies toward Eric as she tells him that the "tables have turned" and that she will make him experience what it is like to be imprisoned, as she traps him in a bathroom. At the end of the film Amanda claims that she intends to carry on Jigsaw's work after he dies.

aw III

"Saw III" specified that Amanda had been working with Jigsaw since the time of the first film, that she is the kidnapper of one of the film's protagonists, Adam Faulkner, and that she had killed Adam out of guilt shortly after said film. Flashbacks in "Saw III" also clarified that Matthews had escaped from his trap, and engaged in a vicious fight with Amanda for the whereabouts of his son. Amanda succeeded in defeating him, and left Matthews lying on the floor.

By the third film, Amanda is depicted as ignoring Jigsaw's modus operandi by creating inescapable traps that kill the subject regardless of whether or not they solve the test correctly. The dying Jigsaw decides to put Amanda through a test to see if she is still stable enough to carry on his work by having her work with Dr. Lynn Denlon to keep him alive while he oversees the tests of Jeff Reinhart. During the film, Amanda acts abusively towards Lynn, jealous of the attention Jigsaw is giving her, even having a fight with her at one point. At another point, she discovers a letter addressed to her, and upon reading its contents (which are unknown to the viewer), she breaks down and cries. After hearing John unwittingly profess his love for Lynn during surgery (when in fact he was delirious and thought he was with his ex-wife, Jill) she refuses to remove the "Shotgun Collar" from Lynn, that will kill her if Jigsaw flatlines. A heated argument about John's ethics and whether or not Lynn learned anything ensues, ending with Amanda shooting Lynn. Jeff appears and shoots Amanda fatally in the neck. As she dies, a saddened Jigsaw explains the nature of her test – revealing Lynn and Jeff as husband and wife – and expresses disappointment at her effectively defeating the point of his actions by giving her victims no chance to learn from the experience with her.

aw IV

During "Saw IV", Amanda's ability to pick up the much heavier Kerry's unconscious body is questioned by the FBI, leading them to believe another accomplice is helping Jigsaw (it is not yet known how the FBI knew that Amanda was an accomplice of Jigsaw, as Kerry and the police weren't aware of her involvement while investigating Troy's trap, four days before Kerry's body was found). It is discovered that the events of "Saw III" and "Saw IV" occurred at the same time, revealing that Amanda was alive during the events of the fourth film. Her blood-covered corpse is found by Agent Peter Strahmin the makeshift operating room just moments after her death. It is later revealed that Detective Hoffman, Jigsaw's second apprentice, wrote the upsetting letter to Amanda in the previous movie.

Removed and altered content

A deleted scene in "Saw III" shows Amanda killing Matthews viciously, cutting his body several times while on top of him. Darren Lynn Bousman fought to keep this scene in, but the producers removed it because they thought it would be better to leave the door open for Matthews' return in "Saw IV". Leigh Whannel confirms on the Saw III DVD commentary that Amanda murdering Eric was the first time she killed out of spite and that it was this incident, which caused the evolution of her character to become a serial killer.

Future sequels

There have been conflicting accounts regarding whether or not Shawnee Smith will reprise her role as Amanda in "Saw V". Tobin Bell claimed in an interview that Smith will not appear in the fifth installment of the franchise. [ " EXCLUSIVE: Tobin Bell talks SAW V"] . Retrieved 2008-06-11] On the other hand, the official "Smith & Pyle" website have stated that Shawnee Smith will appear in "Saw V", [ "The Official Smith & Pyle Website"] Retrieved 2008-05-23] indicating that Amanda will feature in that film. On August 7, 2008, Shawnee Smith confirmed in an interview with "Bloody-Disgusting" that she has heard that she will indeed feature in the fifth installment of "Saw". However, she confirmed Bell's claims that she was never on set for the fifth film. Smith guessed that her reappearance will most-likely be through the use of archive footage that had been previously filmed. [ "Bloody-Disgusting Dead or Alive, Shawnee Smith Returns Fifth 'Saw' Film"] . Retrieved 2008-08-12]

There has not been any news on whether or not Smith will reprise her role as 'Amanda' in "Saw VI".

In other media

aw: Rebirth

The character of Amanda Young is also featured in the comic book, "", 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 as a fellow patient at the hospital who was being treated for an overdose that she had suffered, 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.

cott Tibbs Documentary

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 being harassed by a news reporter who wants information on her experience when captured by Jigsaw. In response, Amanda punches the reporter in the face and storms off.


In interviews with actress Shawnee Smith, it had been revealed that Amanda's evolution into the killer she was at the end of "Saw III" was in part due to a horrible childhood. Smith stated on numerous occasions that Amanda was severely abused and neglected when she was a child.cite interview| subject= Shawnee Smith| subjectlink= Shawnee Smith| interviewer= Charlie,CraveOnline| title= Amanda's World of Hurt| publisher=| date=

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 use. However, after surviving the Jaw Splitter device, she no longer used heroin and returned to cutting, burning, and other forms of self-injury. Her frail emotional state and somewhat mental instability made her quick to anger, and she would often act purely on impulse or emotion (such as trying to kill Eric Matthews, and her emotionally and physically abusive behavior towards Lynn Denlon).

A scene in "Saw III" explores Amanda's self-injuring tendencies, and shows her cutting the inside of her thigh. The scene was not in the original script, and instead there was a brief scene in 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. [cite interview| subject= Shawnee Smith| subjectlink= Shawnee Smith| title= Shawnee Smith on "Saw III"| publisher=| date= 2006-10-26| url= | accessdate= 2007-11-06 ]

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. [Saw III Director's Cut]

Jake Huntley wrote of the complexity of Amanda’s character in the "Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies". He points out that her character is used as a creative tool of juxtaposition with that of Jigsaw’s, to effectively point out what the Jigsaw killer wasn’t. Huntley outlined this, stating that: “If Jigsaw’s games are encounters with Deleuzian affect, Amanda’s games are anti-Deleuzian, operating more as encounters with Lacanian notions of the signification of death within the symbolic order and the death drive. This is because Amanda, as a Lacanian subject, becomes caught between her own subjectivity and the object of her desire. In purely cinematic terms, Jigsaw directs his games while Amanda acts in hers.” [ "'I Want To Play A Game': How To See Saw"] . Retrieved 2008-03-22.]

Huntley further 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 stated that:

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 characterised by her claim to have been ‘reborn’, symbolising 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. Huntley stated that:

cquote|What seems to be consistent thematically through the Saw films is that ‘Jigsaw’ is a part for various players, an identity composed of pieces and despite John’s preparations and Amanda’s willingness it is a puzzle into which Amanda is, simply, unable to fit. Her addiction to drugs and her self-harming are ‘helped’ via the games she plays by something that proves to be far more pernicious, as Jigsaw comes to stand not as the object of her desire but the cause. Far from achieving a sense of self, status and stability through her role as Jigsaw’s disciple, Amanda is not ‘reborn’ and ultimately loses her sense of identity.

Amanda is reduced to nothing or, as Matthews accurately and devastatingly phrases it, “not-Jigsaw.” Amanda Young grows out of her original place of signification and cannot occupy the space she desires, nor can she regress to fit herself back into the position of the signifier ‘Amanda’. The inevitable pressure of this untenable negativity is what causes Amanda’s dissolution. Unable to express her desire for Jigsaw, unable to be Jigsaw and ultimately unable to be, she is squeezed out of any position within the symbolic order and caught in a horror of a hollow point of signification – which is the subtlest trap of all.cite web|url=|title="'I Want To Play A Game': How To See Saw"|publisher=Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies|page=1|date= 2006|accessdate=2008-03-22]

To add to this, some film critics have interpreted Amanda's character to have suffered from Stockholm Syndrome in regards to her complex relationship with Jigsaw. [ 'Darren Lynn Bousman's Saw 2'] . Retrieved 2008-03-22.] [ 'Saw 3 Review'] . Retrieved 2008-03-22.]

hawnee Smith

Speaking about her character, actress Shawnee Smith said that while she was not able to completely identify Amanda Young with that of herself, she was however, able to perceive several of Amanda's characteristics to be admirable nonetheless. Smith stated that:

"When you first meet [Amanda] , she’s at the bottom, she can’t go any lower and it’s the combination of that and having nothing left to lose and finding someone to love and to sacrifice for. Obviously she’s tragic, but 95% 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 a fearlessness to build that." [ 'Shawnee Smith Saw 3 Interview'] . Retrieved 2008-03-23.]


Following the release of "Saw III", film critic David Medsker acknowledged the iconic status that the 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. [ 'Darren Lynn Bousman's Saw 2'] . Retrieved 2008-03-22.]

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.'" [ 'Saw 3 Review'] . Retrieved 2008-03-22.]

Smith's depiction of Amanda in the jaw-splitter device was used in promotional posters for the first film. [ poster] ]


External links


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