Published on November 1st, 2004 | by Erich Becker0
After seeing Saw, I certainly know where the producers got their banner name of Twisted Pictures. To put it lightly, the movie is twisted beyond recognition at some parts, but under all the gore and images of dirty, dank surroundings, there is a keen little movie to see. Many early reviews of the film, which has been screened a number of times over the last couple of weeks, made the endless comparison to David Fincher’s Se7en, a film which has a similar storyline.
Se7en focused on John Doe, a serial killer who used the seven deadly sins as his guide. In a unique, intriguing twist, the ending left many very, very surprised. Saw tries to recreate the atmosphere created by Fincher by placing similar characters in similar situations. In Saw, two men wake up in a highly disturbing room chained to polls on opposite sides of the room. After some bantering back and forth, they finally realize that they are the latest victims of the Jigsaw killer. This serial killer, in name only, finds unique ways for his victims to kill themselves, while he watches via video, or a hole in the wall. Jigsaw’s latest players in his twisted game are Adam (Leigh Whannell) and Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes). The killer gives instructions to Dr. Gordon to kill Adam before 6PM or his family will be murdered, to do this task, Jigsaw gives the doctor one bullet and a hacksaw. Lying in the middle of the floor, between the two men, is a body, with a good portion of its head blown off, and in the body’s hand is the gun Gordon needs to complete his task. Conveniently, the gun is just out of his reach.
Saw‘s, directed by James Wan, main appeal comes from its plotline and twisted story. The killer, portrayed via a mechanical doll throughout the film, is, by far, the most interesting of the characters. Elwes and Whannell, as Gordon and Adam respectively, do their best to fit into the roles, but sometimes step over the bounds of believability in their overacting. Surely, we can’t be the ones to judge them based on the fact none of us have been put in a similar situation, but there are times when the actors go a bit over the top. Also featured in the picture is Detective Tapp (Danny Glover), and while his character appears as though he might be going somewhere in the beginning of the film, he really serves no purpose at the film’s climax.
The beauty of the script is in the way the story is told. Rather than go straight forward from the time of the victim’s capture, Wan goes back in time to show how they got to where they are today. This is one of the more intriguing parts of the picture as the storylines of each character seem to overlap, making for an interesting, suspenseful time.
Part of the sick-joy, and allure, for Saw is the manner in which Jigsaw’s victims are killed. One man has to escape through a field of razor wire before a certain time or he will be entombed in the room he is in. Perhaps the film’s most demented device can be easily summed up in three words, “reverse-bear-trap.” This apparatus, which looks intimidating just staring at it, has the tendency to blow your head up when it goes off, tearing the jaw apart at the seams.
What Saw does well is deliver a well crafter story that has enough suspense to last for the 110 minute runtime. There are parts where the story becomes a bit thin and slows down due to an attempt at character development, but if you can look past those, you will see the film’s deeper meaning, a cult classic in the making.
Much chagrin has been given to the film’s ending, which I won’t spoil, for been too contrived and for simply being in the film to have the prerequisite trick ending. I, for one, was very surprised by the ending, as was everyone else in the theater I was in judging from the gasping and “no f*$%ing way!” coming behind me. There is definitely some disturbing stuff in Saw, but if you made it through Se7en and have the slightest twisted sensibility to you, then Saw is right up your alley.