Saw (2004)

2.5 STARS

General Information

The information below is taken from the following link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387564/

18  103 min  –  Crime | Horror | Mystery   –  1 October 2004 (UK)

Director

James Wan

Writors

Leigh Whannell; James Wan

Stars

Cary Elwes; Leigh Whannell; Danny Glover

Plot:

Two men are shackled by their legs to a pipe in a locked bathroom; in the next six hours they must find out how to win Jigsaw’s twisted ‘game’. If they win: they are allowed to live. And if they lose: they die.

Review:

Saw is easily the most talked-about horror film ever made. Even though it’s not the best. Every time the subject of horror films comes up, Saw is always mentioned. Why? Well, probably something to do with its ‘twisted’ and deranged plot, nauseating cinematography, plot twists and so much gore that you’ll throw up in some poor unfortunate soul’s face. Not only that, but it’s one of the first horror films I have ever seen where the victims – will, if they like – kill themselves if they don’t want to be killed by the madman.

I shall explain: the serial killer (known to the cult following as: ‘Jigsaw‘) finds victims who have something ‘wrong’ with their lives. (Which seems odd coming from somebody who shackles a random doctor and photographer to a pipe in an old abandoned bathroom and then forces them to have to hack off their feet otherwise they will die. But hey, that’s horror for you.) Jigsaw then tests his victims to see how much they respect their own lives, so in this case, Dr Gordon must hack his own foot off to escape survive. Obviously we must realise that realism wasn’t at the forefront of the writers’ mind’s here.

However, this film, I feel, could’ve been better. This is a horror which works on showing you a lot of gore. Good horrors work on psychology and pace to leave you frightened and at the edge if your seat. Saw does the latter, but not the first. This is the problem: it could’ve been so much better, but unfortunately, it’s not. Instead, the camera has to show you Dr Gordon hacking his foot off – blood, tissue, cartilage, bones an’ all. Let’s compare it to a good horror: Halloween. A masterpiece of horror this is, makes me jump and leaves me stone-cold terrified. It’s paced well, leaves me compelled and when it comes to murder, shows some blood but not so much you feel like vomiting. So if we compare it to such a masterpiece: Saw is a failure with a capital ‘F’. However, I am being a tad harsh. I did like Saw in the sense that it was intriguing in terms that it rewarded us. It gives you a satisfied feeling when you view each of the twists and never even saw them coming, it satisfied me with its complex structure as it had flashbacks and flashbacks in flashbacks, in a strangely perverse way, it satisfied me with how original each torture device was (note to self: the writers have spent time thinking about the methods of torture.) Not only that but the pacing also satisfied me, it was fast-paced and in that sense, an okay thriller. However, when I think of a thriller, I’d rather watch The Silence of The Lambs or Se7en.

The acting I cannot judge. How can I judge if it is realistic. Is it over the top? God knows. We can always find out by doing an ‘experiment’ on a random, unfortunate member of the public, however, I feel, that would be illegal.

The script however is shocking. You can tell by the dialogue. It’s the sort of dialogue which shows one-dimensional characters. Obviously, I must point out, that this is horror – so believability isn’t everything. Halloween doesn’t attempt character development on an RSC level, but at least the characters are ‘believable’ (note the clever use of quotation marks there). It’s the sort of dialogue which shows that each character plays the same emotion throughout. One character may be the shouty-screaming one, and all he does is shout and scream. That’s it. Another one, may be the ‘calm down’-let’s-think-about-this-there-must-be-some-sort-of-logical-explanation-behind-this sort of person, and all he ever does is say say: ‘calm down’, ‘let’s think about this’ and ‘there must be some sort of logical explanation behind this’.

However, Saw isn’t about character development. It’s about the moment: the moment where they realise they’re chained to a pipe, or, the moment when Doctor Gordon realises that he must do the unthinkable and the moment when the film ends and the title credits role up.

Overall, Saw isn’t rubbish, but it isn’t good either.

However, I must point out: that ending, my God, I didn’t expect that. Genius.

Verdict:

A well thought out film in terms of plotting, ideas, structure and pace. However it’s also dumb, overly-sadistic to its audience (and victims), and could be better at scaring us.

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2 thoughts on “Saw (2004)

  1. Ehhhh… Saw isn’t the MOST talked about horror movie ever made. It’s probably high up there, but the MOST would be maybe The Exorcist, or The Shining, or Psycho.

    • oooo….I disagree! In my personal experience, people always talk about Saw when the topic of horror films comes up. Usually to try and discuss whether it has a moral or just disgustingly pretentious. And of course, because of its gorey content. Psycho is usually brought up to defend horror cinema as an ‘Art form’….but that’s just my experience.

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