Back in 2004 there was a debate between my father and I as to what we should see as part of or Halloween horror movie tradition. The films came down between The Grudge or Saw. At the time one of my friends raved about both, but she said that Saw was one of the best horror films she had seen in a long time. More intrigued by Saw than The Grudge we ventured into Regal Stadium 22 in Austell that afternoon. Sitting closer to the front of the theater, we waited for the film to begin. A film about two men stuck in a room trying to figure out how they know each other and why they are there does not seem like one that could keep one’s attention for almost two hours. Little did we both know it would and then give that extra shock at the very end. I was in love with Saw. This writer loved the idea behind it and began to research to see if there would be more of them to be released. Earlier on, before all the sequels were produced, I had read there would be at least six films, but they were aiming for seven to wrap the entire series. A new horror franchise. This had not really been seen since Final Destination (2000) in my opinion, at least one worthy of seeing in the theater. From the very first Saw film, this writer knew the next six years afterward our movie to be seen would be Saw. After all if it is Halloween then it must be Saw. One of the most affective taglines in history in my opinion. I will warn now that the synopsis gives away a bit of the plot, so if one has not viewed the film and dislikes knowing anything about the film before going in, one might want to skip this and come back when one has viewed Saw.
Without gushing further the synopsis of Saw is rather simple. Two men, Adam (Leigh Whannell) and Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes), wake up in an abandoned, disgusting bathroom chained by their ankles to nearby pipes on opposing sides of the room. To make matters worse the two men discover a dead body in the middle of the room, laying in its own pool of blood, loosely clutching a tape recorder and a handgun. Shocked the two men at first freak out before realizing that the they both have tapes in their back pockets big enough to fit the player. They each play the tapes and each are revealed tasks. One is threatened, but the other isn’t. Dr. Gordon is the one who must kill the other man by 6:00 in order to free his wife (Monica Potter) and daughter (Makenzie Vega) before they are murdered. Soon audiences realize that these two are the two newest victims of a serial killer by the name of Jigsaw that police have been trying to capture for a couple of years now. We learn of how henious some of his previous crimes have been in flashbacks and realize there has only been one survivor of his tasks. A woman by the name of Amanda (Shawnee Smith). We also learn that despite the fact that Detective David Tapp (Danny Glover) has been discharged from the police force, but still is doing research on Dr. Lawrence Gordon who he believes is the actual Jigsaw killer. The film boils down to if Detective Tapp isn’t right then who is the man the police call Jigsaw?
In addition to one of the most well written horror films in quite some time, performance wise Whannell and Elwes are absolutely brilliant. While Whannell had been in a few things before Saw, this is his first big acting role. He was also apart of the short that convinced producers Saw should be made, which he also wrote. Whannell created a horror phenomenon and did not even know it at the time. He also gave the performance of a lifetime as Adam. Scared out of his mind, not sure what was going to happen to him and knowing there was only one option, after his original option is later discovered not to exist anymore, Whannell is exciting to watch. Elwes, as fans of his earlier work know, is always a pleasure to watch on screen. As a determined, desperate man, his portrayal as Dr. Gordon is stellar. A man up to his wits trying to figure out how to get out of his situation without actually committing a murder is absolutely outstanding, and in my opinion extremely underrated. The rest of the cast plays their respective roles equally as amazing, but Whannell and Elwes steal the show. Tobin Bell does, but in another way that shall not be revealed here for those who have yet to see the first film of the franchise.
Finally, another article will be released this month about the franchise as a whole. In many ways I think the Saw franchise has gotten a bad wrap at times. To me these films are not just a torture film, neither of the others, but something fare more complex to the mind if one allows them to be. Saw in particular is one of the best horror films I saw during the 2000s. Hands down. In fact after viewing The Grudge, had I chose to see that film over Saw this writer would have been livid myself. Saw is one of the best movie choices I have made thus far in my lifetime and I am not afraid to admit such. When a film can genuinely shock one by the end these days the film is well made and well directed, especially in the horror world. There are so many horror films that lack a true twist ending anymore. Those that do deserve all the praise in the world and that along with the incredible acting and story, Saw will always remain one of my absolutely favorite horror films of all time.
If you are interested in renting Saw, make sure to check out this title through Netflix, your local Austell Blockbuster, Videodrome, Movies Worth Seeing, or movie channels based upon your cable or satellite provider. To purchase any Blu-rays or DVDs mentioned in this review please check out your local Austell Best Buy, Walmart, Target, or Kmart.