Directed by James Wan [Other horror films: Stygian (2000), Dead Silence (2007), Insidious (2010), The Conjuring (2013), Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013), The Conjuring 2 (2016), Malignant (2021)]
So it should come as no surprise that, to me, Saw is a very special movie. I don’t deny it’s dated in some aspects, nor do I deny that some of the performances aren’t quite up to snuff, but even with those issues, I can’t help but see this as an almost perfect movie.
A big part of this, to be sure, is nostalgia. When I first saw this film on Showtime or HBO, I had absolutely zero idea where it was going or how it’d end. I’m sure I had heard vaguely about the film, but I didn’t really know going in exactly what it was even about. And then, come the conclusion, I was blown away, and how.
To this day, that’s one of my favorite finales. Sure, the quick recap, giving us seemingly hundreds of short clips, is a bit much, and one of those dated aspects I mentioned, but despite that, it possesses such a depressing and hopeless aura to it, what with the screaming for mercy while the door is being slid shut. It’s just beautiful.
What’s also beautiful is the whole concept of Jigsaw. Throwing people he deems unworthy of the gift of life into torturous, yet beatable traps (in theory – that broken glass trap with the safe looked pretty close to impossible) is a fun concept to mess around with, and I thought they did a good job here, especially since, unlike later movies, this one doesn’t rely too much on the carnage and gore of the traps, but of the mystery surrounding the situation Adam and Lawrence find themselves in.
I think most people can see that Leigh Whannell’s performance is a bit off. He certainly cracked me up at times, and of all the characters in the film, he’s probably the most sympathetic, but the acting isn’t great. Luckily, it doesn’t really make a big negative impact in my mind, because most everyone else does decent. I mean, hell, the cast is actually pretty solid, with such names as Cary Elwes, Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon series), Michael Emerson, Tobin Bell, and Ken Leung (who randomly popped up over ten years later in the ill-fated MCU series Inhumans). All of them bring something to the table, and it makes the story work beautifully.
Personally, there are some films that aren’t easy to put into words just the amount of impact they make on me, and Saw is a good example of that. On almost any horror forum I’ve joined, my user name’s always been some variation of ‘Jigsaw,’ and though I can certainly see some flaws with additional viewings of the film, none of that can change the fact this movie as a big reason why I became such a dedicated fan of the genre, and I don’t really hesitate to give it the highest props possible.
This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as I defend Saw against Chucky’s (@ChuckyFE) slanderous words.
16 thoughts on “Saw (2004)”