Saw (2004) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


MV5BMjE4MDYzNDE1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDY2OTYwNA@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_From the creator who has brought us the Conjuring and Insidious franchises began his career with a little gem that put Lionsgate on the map. Both James Wan and Leigh Whannell came together in introducing a new thriller that involves a killer who puts his victims in unimaginable situations of life and death. The difference this time around is that the victims are guilty of taking life for granted and are put in traps that revolve around their own personal sins. Not your usual psycho killer scenario but near the philosophical prowess of Anthony Hopkin’s Hannibal Lecter. So let’s jump right into it and delve into the film that started it all.

Two men awaken in a dilapidated bathroom unknowing of how they got there. With little time they must work together to figure out who put them there and why. When we learn of a serial killer named Jigsaw through the viewpoint of Dr. Gordon both men begin to realize why they are there and that escape may be more complicated than they thought. And in a stunning series of events everything builds up to a shocking finale.

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What many people may not know is that the film was made on a $1 million budget and everything was filmed in one location. And with such a budget we were able to get Danny Glover and Cary Elwes. The big mystery that would eventually reveal itself at the end is the emergence of Tobin Bell as Jigsaw himself. Jigsaw himself wasn’t given away through exposition but instead it fools the audience into thinking who’s pulling the strings the whole time. Even the ending has a gratifying result because soon as we discover the perpetrator it leaves the viewer wanting to see more. It also worked to a point that if the studio decided to not move forward with a sequel it would leave a mark in cinematic history.

There were two memorable scenes in the film and one of them would go on to be iconic in the entire series. The scene involves Amanda, played by Shawnee Smith, as she awakens with a reverse bear trap on her head. She must retrieve the key from her supposedly dead cell mate before the timer goes off. Simplicity is what made the film original and frightening especially when it comes to the traps. As the series progresses the traps get overly complicated but the reverse bear trap remains one of the most terrifying sequences and became the staple in the franchise.

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We may not have gotten a lot of background into Jigsaw but Tobin Bell would be revealed to be Hollywood’s next horror icon. Though little is known about his character we begin to discover the psyche in how Jigsaw works. And what’s different compared to the likes of ‘Friday the 13th‘ and ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street‘ is that we get a character that has a motivation besides just killing for the sake of killing. Jigsaw finds flaws in his victims and puts them in traps with hopes that their experience will change their perspectives on life. Again, this is not your typical horror thriller where someone goes after people with revenge in mind. Rather in a twisted sort of way it puts everyone in the city on edge.

As far as the acting in the film it is not groundbreaking nor Oscar worthy. There are moments when the lead character, Dr. Gordon, does come off a little over the top. We can’t even judge the performance by the villain because he’s lying on the floor the whole time. The only reasonable performance we see is with Danny Glover who is the detective that’s put on the case as he searches for the suspect behind the murders.

The movie is not perfect as there are far fetched scenarios sprinkled throughout. But the overall reaction to the film when it came out in 2004 was that of praise and raised moviegoer eyebrows. With the success the studio immediately moved forward with greenlighting a sequel that would come out in a year’s time. It was the dawn of a new franchise and would go on to become one of the most successful horror franchises in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Rating: 7/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Saw‘? Would you consider the original film to be groundbreaking in the horror franchise? Comment below and share your thoughts.

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