“I went to bed in my s**t-hole apartment and woke up in an actual s**t-hole!”
Much like the movie The Cube, Saw is all about solving a puzzle. But not just any puzzle, this is the uncut gore-fest puzzle of grizzly, gruesome and uncomfortably vicious pieces that make this movie a very tense affair. Written by and starring Leigh Whannell, Saw attacks your senses on all fronts and forces you to concentrate when you would rather look away. It is a riddle, it is a horror, and it has elements of humour as can be found in the opening quote. It plays on our worst possible fears and exploits them to the maximum. How many of us have wondered if there was no other choice, would we saw our own limb off to ensure our survival? This is the fear that Saw uses as the basis for the story and for a horror, it's a good place to start!
Dr Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes- Liar Liar, Twister) and Adam (Whannell- One Perfect Day, Enter The Matrix) are two strangers who wake up chained at the ankle to rusted pipes on opposite sides of a dark, dank room which appears to be a very decrepit public toilet. Between them lay a male corpse in a pool of blood with a gun in his hand and a Dictaphone by his side. Neither have a clue as to where they are or why they are there but through microcassettes found in their pockets and the instructions they contain, Dr Gordon is instructed that if he does not kill Adam within eight hours, then they will both die as will Gordon's wife and daughter. Gordon realises that they are the victims of a sadistic, psychopathic genius, known only as 'Jigsaw' who doesn't actually kill anyone, but through his twisted plans, has his victims kill themselves or others. The two must now try and discover how to escape and why this is happening to them.
Thankfully, the entire movie is not set in this tomb but through flashbacks and subplots, we get to venture out into the open and it is these scenes that contain most of the real horror. The two held captive narrate mainly the mystery and any possible explanations whilst the other actors, including Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon) as Detective Tapp, the obsessed cop also trying to solve the 'Jigsaw' cases, contain the suspense, the scares and the action.
This is also the area of the movie which lets it down somewhat. Without giving too much away of the plot which relies heavily on the twist at the end, there are some extremely annoying characters that do some ridiculously stupid things and you find yourself shouting at the screen, telling them not to be so incredibly dumb! Oh well, maybe this is intentional and is included purely to heighten your tension. I was certainly tense but surprisingly, only occasionally scared. Saw is more disturbing than chilling much in the way that Se7en was. But where Se7en was superbly executed, Saw is more a popcorn flick, albeit a rather nauseating one and as such has many holes in its plot.
This is supposedly the 'uncut' version but to be honest, I could see little difference from the original version with the exception of the 'razor wire' scene which was a little longer and a touch more graphic as was the 'key in the corpse' scene. This is James Wan's directorial debut and is handled excellently. He tips a very obvious nod to legend Dario Argento, not least of all with the use of the puppet which is a reference to Argento's Profondo Rosso (1975), movie. But it is the plot that causes concern, too many holes and irritating characters for my liking. The two lead actors do put in a respectable performance and Whannell's talent as both an actor and writer is obvious although maybe a little rough around the edges. The suspense created is superb and you'll all be saying, “I know who the psycho is!” after twenty minutes. The gore, even on this uncut version, is fairly graphic but not what I would call offensive and overall, Saw is an ok movie. It is just that, by the closing credits I was left feeling, how can I put this.......unsatisfied.