I don’t think anyone ever expected Saw to be the biggest horror franchise of the 2000s. How does something like that even happen? Is it the gore? Or maybe it’s more than that? What sets Saw apart is what happens before the gore. Morally questionable individuals are put into Rube Goldberg-like devices where they must take harm on their own bodies to survive. These “Traps” are what put Saw a few steps above something like Hostel or Turistas. That being said I definitely have my issues with this movie and the direction the series went in.
Saw begins with two men: photographer Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) and Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) waking up in industrial washroom. Both men are chained at the ankle to pipes at opposite ends of the room. Between them a corpse and a cassette player. Adam and Gordon each find tapes in their pockets that when played, reveal they have been put there because each of them has done something wrong. Gordon is given the choice to either kill Adam by six ‘o clock (which will also save his captured wife and daughter) or use a saw that Adam finds to cut off his own leg. Now ain’t that a dilly of a pickle?
Meanwhile, a police officer played by Danny Glover (who is far too old for this shit) is tracking down the same man responsible for the trap, “The Jigsaw Killer”. The killer’s shtick being to take people who have abused life and put them into scenarios where they must sacrifice something (usually a body part) to survive. The concept and stakes are high, which result in one of the more inventive horror movies to come along in awhile.
I like the premise and the concept of a killer who makes people kill themselves but that doesn’t stop Saw from avoiding horror cliches. Fake scares, overly flashy camera effects/filters, and melodramatic dialogue are just in present in Saw as any other straight to dvd shlockfest. Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, and the film’s villain Tobin Bell are definitely a step above the kind of people you usually seen in these movies but I need more. The reason I’m so hard on Saw is that it was so close to being something truly great. Instead it’s a a very typical horror movie with a very untypical plot. Don’t even get me started on the endless parade of sequels. To believe that someone could continue to trap so many people, especially after the circumstances the villain fell under in the third movie makes the sequels in this franchise a complete joke. Still, I did like the original when I saw it in theaters… See what I did there?