Saw (2004) – James Wan

I’ve never been a fan of the ‘torture porn’ sub-genre of horror cinema, so I wasn’t sure I wanted to try it again when I came to one of the last entries on the 101 Horror Movies list.

Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) and Adam (Leigh Whannell) wake up in a rather disgusting room, to find themselves chained by the ankle to pipes in opposite corners. In the middle of the floor is a dead body with a pistol and a tape recorder. They find envelopes with cassettes in their pockets with instructions of how to play a game devised by someone known only as Jigsaw (Tobin Bell).

We also get a cast of characters springing up around this tiny little room, an ex-cop (Danny Glover) driven by the death of his partner (Ken Leung) at the hands of Jigsaw, one of Jigsaw’s survivors (Shawnee Smith), a hospital orderly (Michael Emerson) and Gordon’s wife (Monica Potter) and daughter (Makenzie Vega). A lot of these characters end up being pawns in a bigger game being played by Jigsaw, who likes to have a front seat for all of his events.

saw2He captures people, and through terrifying devices, gives them a chance to die or prove how much life is important to them by fighting to live. Gordon is asked to kill Adam before 6 to save his family. There are clues and messages hidden in the room around them, giving them information and leverage on the other, as they begin a cat and mouse game not only with Jigsaw but with one another. There are also hacksaws close at hand, which are nowhere near strong enough to cut through the chains, but could probably make quick work of flesh…

It’s a very strong cast, and they bring the script by Wan and Whannell to life very well, and I wonder if I would have enjoyed the series of films more if they had stuck with layering their stories like in this film. I remember watching a number of them, and just being incredibly let down by the ‘twists’ and ‘reveals.’ Not to mention the increasing use of torture porn, something that doesn’t do anything for me at all.

saw3Amazingly the film was shot in 18 days, all in the same location, a converted warehouse! I love learning stuff like that!

I’ve always like Cary Elwes, and I really like his performance in this. It was interesting coming back to this film, especially now after having traveled through the entertaining and educational list that is the 101 Horror Movies. It allowed me to appreciate it more.

Saw ends up being more of a horror/thriller than a torture porn film and a fairly well-woven together one at that. My only real problem with it is of course the reveal of the killer’s location revealed at the end of the film.

SPOILERS if you haven’t seen it.

They share the same space for around 8 hours, and they don’t notice this apparently dead body breathing once? Especially when they are scrambling for the tape recorder the body is holding. That is one of the biggest problems I had with the film both times that I’ve watched it, especially one as sick as Jigsaw is supposed to be.

What are your thoughts on the series?

saw1

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Smellycat says:

    I really have to start watch “Saw” .. Never did yet and always wanted ! 🙂

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