DVD Review: Saw
By Patrick Luce Feb 17, 2005, 0:30 GMT
The film is directed by James Wan based on a screenplay by Leigh Whannell, who also stars in the movie. With the run of serial killer movies going on right now, Saw’s plot might seem familiar: A creepy killer who kidnaps people and tortures them until they die, but Wan and Whannell take that premise and twist it on its head.
Instead of having a Michael or Freddy, who can’t get their full of killing, the Jigsaw Killer prefers to watch his victims kill themselves or others that are in the same situation. Of course, like most movie villains, the Jigsaw Killer is really only trying to teach his victims the value of life through mind numbing torture and death.
It is this disturbing premise that starts the movie and glues you to your seat from the beginning credits until the very end. Most of the movie takes place in a grimy and disgusting bathroom where we meet Dr.Lawrence Gordon, greatly played by Cary Elwes, and the second victim Adam, played by Whannell. Both men are chained to a pipe on opposite ends of the room with a dead man in the center - just out of reach.
Once both characters are introduced, the movie moves forward with lightening speed never giving the viewer a chance to catch your breath or stop to try and figure out what is going on. We quickly learn that both men have secrets and motives to lie to each other. Elwes learns that for him, and his wife and child, to live he must kill Adam. Poor Adam learns that he is the sacrificial lamb in the play. Saw does a great job of forcing yourself to wonder “what would you do” and “could you do it.” Wan uses several series of flashbacks and other characters, such as Danny Glover’s obsessed cop and Monica Potter, - Elwes wife, to flesh out the rest of the story. Other flashback scenes, such as a victim crawling naked through barbwire, are used to show how warped the Jigsaw Killer is and just how far he will go to enjoy his “game.” Unlike some movies with flashbacks, Wan keeps you nailed to your seat trying to figure out what turn the story is going to take and how much more punishment can these two men handle. Wan also uses the closed space of the bathroom to add to the “gore feeling” of the movie, making it seem much more gory than it really is, and unique camera angles to keep your spine chilling from start to finish.
By the end of the movie, you feel like you have been through a war, and that you have watched one of the best horror films made in the last few years. Wan tops the movie’s gore with a great twist at the end which, in true Hollywood style, leaves it open for a sequel which is rumored to already be in development.
Leigh Whannell in Saw. Photo credit: Greg Gayne
Not only is the movie creepy, but even the DVD case is able to give you the shivers. It is packaged in a clear plastic case on the front and a dead hand on the back. with a disc painted to look like razor saw and a dismembered foot in the center, which refers to a rather gruesome scene towards the end of the movie. Also, the menu system of the movie has enough flashes of film to give you nightmares. My poor wife saw just that little part and fled the room.
The disc is also loaded with special features including audio commentary with Wan and Whannell, two unrated videos for the film, including Fear Factory’s “Bite the Hand that Feeds You,” a special making of the music video, a “Saw” art gallery, trailers and TV spots for the film. It also includes a short making of Saw feature where Wan Whannell discuss how they came up with the budget for a film before they came up with the concept of Saw. Wan discusses how they wanted to shoot the movie in a small space to add to the feel of the film and how the entire movie was shot over an 18 day period.<!--page-->
Overall, I would say that Saw is worth watching if you enjoy a good horror movie that can stay with you for a while. It has great twist and turns that keep it from getting old or formulaic. The Jigsaw Killer comes off with just the right amount of creepiness without seeming too Hollywood like recent “slasher” movies such as Jeepers Creepers. Wan does a great job of using every tool available to make a horror classic that will be discussed for some time and, like other great movies in Hollywood, is sure to be copied for years to come.
"Saw" is released in a slightly cut 'R' rated version in the US and in both a theatrical and an uncut version in the UK. DVDs are available in stores or via the Amazon links below.