Year Released: 2004
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 100 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:
“Saw” is quite possibly the most brutal film I’ve seen in a while. I actually felt sick after leaving the theatre. For someone subjected to horror and gore like there is no tomorrow, especially recently (“Mordum”, “Malevolence”), It is a great feat indeed when a film can make you wanna hurl. Like a finely tuned murder mystery that incorporates a sick and demented killer, grotesque and macabre ways of killing people, and an almost meaningful message, James Wan’s film is nothing short of a miracle. Taking films like Memento, Identity, “Seven”, and The Cell one step farther (which I never even thought was possible) “Saw”’s brutality takes the cake among other films in its genre.
Carey Elwes plays Dr. Gordon, a mild-mannered and accomplished surgeon. Adam (Leigh Whannell, also writer) is a young photographer who takes odd jobs to make a living. What do they have in common? They are both chained to the pipes of an abandoned bathroom, somewhere underground, perhaps in some old area of the subway system of New York. They are also both totally clueless as to how they got there, why they are there, and what is to become of them. To make matters worse, there is a man lying dead on the tile floor between them, his head blown open with a self-inflicted gunshot-wound, his hand still clutching the pistol and pools of blood still around his upper body. By using their intelligence, their survival instincts, and some cleverly revealed clues, Adam and Dr. Gordon unravel the mystery that has then trapped, and find out they are toys in a game devised by a clever and maniacal serial killer.
Carey Elwes gives the performance of his career as Dr. Gordon. With his experience in thrillers past like “The Crush”, he moves forward beyond what anyone could have expected from him. Wildly hysterical, but also cold and calculating. Dr. Gordon is a victim of the most intense kind. Leigh Whannel as Adam is also playing a complex character that shows off his acting talent. I’m sure his writing the script also helped him to understand the subtleties and nuances that someone like Adam should be capable of. Monica Potter plays Dr. Gordon’s estranged and suspicious wife. Danny Glover also gives one of his best performances ever as Detective Tapp, a man driven mad by his desire to catch a serial killer and take revenge (Tapp was almost one of the killer’s victims). What all this points to is that “Saw” is a fantastically acted film.
As a thriller and a mystery it certainly outshines some of this year’s previous failures (Taking Lives) with a refreshing and beautifully logical storyline. Whannell certainly outdid himself thinking of ways to take the old serial killer story one step further, while not stepping on the toes of nightmarish and terrifying mysteries (“The Cell”, “Seven”) of pervious years. Excessive physical violence, gory details, and gruesome imagery will please horror fans who love a great scare, but the more intelligent viewer will also find themselves unable to figure out “whodunit” until the startling end. A plethora of red herrings, false alarms, clever clues, carefully planned crescendos, and blatant violence will leave you interested long after the credits roll.
And you may ask, “Why is it called SAW?” well, lest I give away one of the most gruesome concepts in intelligent film I have ever seen, both men are chained to bathroom pipes by the ankles. Somehow they must figure out a way to get free. The killer has given them a hacksaw to do with what they will. It doesn’t seem to saw through the chains very well, however. Hmmm… what are they supposed to saw through? Whatever you’re thinking, it’s not half as bad as the truth.
To be rivaled only by the indie thriller Open Water, “Saw” may be the best independent horror film to have come out since The Blair Witch Project. It’s certainly better than “Blair Witch”, and more fun, more gruesome, and more macabre. In a very delightful way.
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Posted on October 29, 2004 in Reviews by Heidi Martinuzzi
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