Movies I Should Have Seen By Now: Saw

You could easily argue that this sort of movie doesn’t exactly fit into this category when there are so many other classic films I have yet to expose myself to, but it leads me into my new theme for this segment:  Films that started off a franchise of four or more movies. Seeing as there are currently seven theatrically released Saw films, it seemed like a perfectly fine choice to get things started.  In no specific order, some of the next entries include:

  • Rocky
  • Police Academy
  • Lethal Weapon
  • Paranormal Activity
  • Friday the 13th
  • Superman
  • Batman
  • The Karate Kid

I have yet to see all of these films, looking to change that as soon as possible.  In the mean time, let’s get on with the main review.  While its sequels seem to have run with its core concept and left behind all of the character development and plot intricacies, Saw is a highly effective and surprisingly well-acted entry into the psychological-thriller side of the horror genre.

The Plot:  

saw cary elwes lawrenceTwo men awake in a strange room, chained to a wall with no recollection of how they got there.  They soon discover that they’ve been captured by a man whom Lawrence (Cary Elwes) believes to be a sadistic serial killer named Jigsaw.  The story is then divided between Lawrence relating his experiences with the Jigsaw murders to his fellow captive, Adam (Leigh Whannell), and the two men struggling to find a way out of their trap as Jigsaw continues to add more and more variables to the equation.  Through the flashbacks, we are introduced to Detectives Tapp (Danny Glover) and Sing (Ken Leung) and how their hunt for the Jigsaw killer has led to the current events of the film.

The Players:

saw jigsaw bicycle tricycleInstead of talking about the individual charters (as is difficult with any horror film, seeing as no matter how good/bad the acting is, serial killers’ victims all tend to meld together then they’re fighting for survival), I’d like to focus on Jigsaw himself.  Unlike most serial killers, Jigsaw doesn’t run around doing all of the killing himself with a knife or machete or what have you.  Instead, he merely captures his victims and places them in scenarios that force them to make impossible moral or physical choices in order to secure their own survival.  In a way, he’s a sort of f*cked-up motivational coach, who tries to show his victims the value of life by bringing the end of it so close to them.  Whether it’s sawing your own leg off, breaking through razor wire, or removing the key for your release from the stomach of another paralyzed victim, the central theme of it all works out to “how far will you go to save your own life?”.

The Tone:

saw adam photographerThis psychological component of Jigsaw’s methods is what really sets Saw aside from similar horror/thriller films of the past decade, and as a result the film fits more into the category of psychological thriller than outright horror.  There are far fewer jump-worthy scares like you’d find in your run-of-the-mill slasher flick.  Instead, we are given a great deal of slow-burn terror, which some people might find hard to watch but others like me will find more effectively disturbing than any Halloween ripoff.  Whether you like being disturbed or not is up to you, but if you’re watching this movie the answer is most likely the former and you will not be disappointed.

The Verdict:  7.0/10  Good

+ Rarely inventive and effectively disturbing premise

+ A surprisingly decent plot twist (Spoiler Alert, Don’t go to IMDb before you see this)

+ Acting isn’t Oscar worth, but is more than good enough to not distract from the plot

– Not a “scary movie” but a psycological horror:  Know what to expect before watching

I’m working on a new B Movie Madness section with Dead Snow and a new Polish That Turd with Gigli, but in the mean time please take a second to vote on what MISHSBY I should do next!

About r361n4

I'm a student at the University of Washington Majoring Business. I've always loved movies and my goal is to work on the financial side of the film industry. Until then though, I figure I'll spare my friends from my opinions and shout them from a digital mountaintop for anyone who's interested. After all, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody blogs about it, does it really happen?
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12 Responses to Movies I Should Have Seen By Now: Saw

  1. Yeah, this is one of my favorite movies, though I do say that a lot. The later films in the series are pretty bad, only because the psychological thriller/horror aspect was replaced by pure horror. Great review.

  2. I love The Saw franchise. The first movie is by far the best, but they all have a decent level of creativity. I also like that there is a purpose behind jigsaws madness, he’s not simply a crazy person. He has a strong motive. The acting is painfully bad with the detectives in the later films.

    • r361n4 says:

      That’s a shame, Glover was actually pretty good in this. My friend once compared the sequels as “devolving into torture porn”, which turned me off of them a bit but I might have to give them a try at some point. Which of the sequels would you say is your favorite?

  3. Hands down one of my favourite horror films, which is saying something seeing as I’m not the biggest fan of horror films. I’d never seen anything like this when I first watched it, it was totally original to me, which I think is why I love it so much. Nice write up man!

    • r361n4 says:

      Thanks Terry, I’m glad I’ve joined the party. Probably not going to be able to catch up with the rest of the series for a while, but just out of curiosity what did you think about them?

      • I’ve only seen up to number 3 (I’m not even sure how many there are now) and I thought they were OK but nowhere near as good as the first, perhaps because they’re obviously not an original idea. It’s quite funny at times to see the various new ways everyone dies but it’s more torture porn than psychological horror most of the time.

  4. Tyson Carter says:

    Love Saw! I liked all the sequels, 6 being a particular favourite. 🙂

  5. Superman! Oh and I think the only good saw is the first one 😀

  6. “the film fits more into the category of psychological thriller than outright horror.”

    True, but having seen this film before its sequels pigeon holed it, and created expectations like that for subsequent viewers… I didnt find that a detraction. I actually liked that quite a bit. Its an awesome film. Good to see you caught up with it!

    • r361n4 says:

      I enjoyed that element too as far as psychological thriller rather than horror went, I’m a much bigger fan of the former genre than the latter. Always like it when people reference actual lines in the comments btw, thanks 🙂

  7. pgcooper1939 says:

    Why seem to shake out pretty close on this, though I think I like it a bit more. I think II and III are superior, though after that things start to get worse real fast.

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