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:
- Police Academy
- Lethal Weapon
- Paranormal Activity
- Friday the 13th
- 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.
Two 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.
Instead 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?”.
This 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!