Dare you see SAW?
Director: James Wan
Release Date: October 2004
Plot: Two strangers, who awaken in a room with no recollection of how they got there, soon discover they’re pawns in a deadly game perpetrated by a notorious serial killer.
As a massive fan of James Wan, this week I made the decision to revisit his directorial debut Saw, which partly because of the subject matter but also because of a quote on some of the marketing material, I can’t help but compare to another film I reviewed this week Se7en.
Although both of these films were accused of being overly gory when they first came out, after rewatching both films so close to each other, the differences between Saw and it’s predecessor couldn’t be more striking, whereas the crimes and murders in Se7en were gruesome, they never felt overly excessive or extreme, in Saw the gore and brutality is straight-up torture porn, only being there to titillate the viewer rather than move the plot along.
Another of the differences between the films is the level of character development, something that although was probably a conscious decision by Wan to keeping you second guessing about each character right through till the end, meant that you never cared about any of them as much as any of the characters in Se7en, even despite Elwes giving a strong performance as one of the chained up men Dr Gordon,
Now despite the fact that I find it hard to classify Saw as a horror film mainly due to the fact that it’s not overly scary, instead the film feels closer to a thriller, this, however, isn’t a bad thing, being one of the smarter and more entertaining splatter films that came out in the early ’00s, twisting and turning to keep the audience thinking and trying to solve the puzzles before hitting you with a really well done twist ending.
There are a few aspects of the film that have sadly not aged well, with some of the editing choices feeling very of their time, reminding me a little of the old anti-piracy adverts you used to get before watching a DVD, this may well be due to Wan’s relative inexperience with film making at that point in time, with his skills going on to grow massively since then.
Not only this but I couldn’t help but feel that Danny Glover was criminally wasted in the film, not given a whole lot to do and not utilized to the full extent of his abilities, which is a shame given how good of an actor he is and how many cool directions they could have taken his character during the movie.
When it comes to Saw, you know what you’re getting, a torture porn film that’s filled with gory maiming and deaths, but not quite to the extent of the knock off films that came later such as Hostel and The Human Centipede and with a better cast and production value.
If gory films are your thing then it’s a no brainer to include Saw in your film collection as it caused the short-lived revival of the splatter film genre first time since it’s heyday during the video nasties craze of the ’80s, if not then you are unlikely to find anything about this film particularly groundbreaking enough go out and get it, maybe just watch it when it shows up on streaming services.
If you liked: Hostel, The Green Inferno, The Midnight Meat Train