Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Film Review: Saw (2004)

Saw (Review)
United States/2004
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...frightening, exciting, and engaging."

Adam (Leigh Whannell) and Lawrence (Cary Elwes) awaken chained in a bathroom as part of a sinister game...

Saw follows Lawrence and Adam after they awaken in this grungy bathroom, which I can only assume is the bathroom of my local McDonald's. The pair are told they're part of a game. Lawrence is told to kill Adam by 6:00, or his family will be killed; Adam is told to escape the bathroom or die. So, they begin to recollect the hazy events prior to their capture. Eventually, they realize they're part of a sick game created by the elusive Jigsaw serial killer, who tries to teach his victims to appreciate life through demented games of torture. It's a plot filled with twists and turns, and one wicked ending.

Saw is a fantastic film. It's a mixture of horror, crime, and mystery. The horror comes from the torturous but creative "games." Although the series went on to be much more gratuitous, Saw features a more realistic brand of violent horror. The idea of running through barbed wires or removing a reversed bear trap from your head are petrifying on their own. Then, there's the saw -- a genuinely cringe-inducing scene. The crime elements come from the surprisingly fleshed and thought-out serial killer, Jigsaw. Jigsaw is ominous and clever, which makes him frightening in these films.

The mystery comes from the actual mystery in the film, which is mostly due to the storytelling. This film is told in non-chronological order as it often jumps from present to past, then even further into past. This makes the film feel like its actually being pieced together, like a jigsaw puzzle. Fortunately, it's handled well enough that it works in keeping the audience engaged and on their toes with little confusion. With that said, I enjoyed every piece of this disturbing puzzle. It's a clever concept with great execution.

The acting is mostly good. Leigh Whannell isn't bad per se, I've seen worse, but he doesn't seem in the element; maybe it was the tone of his voice, but he always sounds soft and enthusiastic, like if he's not in a horrible situation. Otherwise, the cast is good. The film has a very grungy style, and I liked it. The editing, however, can get very frantic at times -- it occasionally looks cool, but it can also be a bit nauseating. Director James Wan meticulously crafts an elaborate horror film; he delivers the suspense, mystery, and pure horror. Although his acting was a little off, Whannell fares better in the writing department.

Overall, Saw is a fantastic film. It's frightening, exciting, and engaging. It creates a twisted serial killing icon with twisted intentions. It gets very bloody and disturbing for its climax, but it's one hell of an ending. If you're a fan of horror and you haven't seen the one that started it all, I strongly recommend Saw.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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