Saw review by The Grim Ringler

Making a dark thriller is not an easy task. And thanks to a little cult film called Se7en it makes it even harder. The heck of it is that the heart of dark thriller, or a crime thriller is that you have to create a killer so diabolical and so interesting that it tickles the place in your mind where nightmares live. It has to tap into the place where you can imagine these crimes and get a shiver. The killer has to, in other words, become a monster. A real monster. And when you have a killer with a gimmick ala Se7en that makes it harder as generally the filmmakers decide to focus on the gimmick and screw the rest. You get generic protagonists who are cops out to catch a killer, and you have a crazy man who turns out to be the mild mannered druggists son who has dyslexia and is angry at a world of colors he cant see due to color blindness. Think thats silly, maybe you need to watch more of these thrillers. The hell of it is that thrillers, when done right, really do get to you and worm their way into your heart, which is why I was so hopeful for Saw. I had been reading about it for a few months now and had gotten cautiously excited for it. I was finally able to see it after a long wait and am very happy to report that, despite some bumps in the road, this is a heck of a good thriller.

The film begins abruptly, with two men finding themselves chained by their ankles in a decrepit room that looks to have once been an industrial bathroom/shower room. Neither man seems to know the other and neither can remember how they got where they are but by the looks of the dead may with the bullet wound to his head lying in the center of the room, they arent in a very happy place. Each man finds a cassette tape in their pants and the tale of the tape is simple each man must somehow free himself and kill the other man in order to leave the room alive. If they fail at this then they forfeit their lives, and perhaps the lives of their loved ones as well. While trying to puzzle out who would do this to them, and why, one man, a doctor remembers a case he had been a suspect in concerning a madman called Jigsaw. The killer would abduct people and put them in nightmarish positions that were emotional mazes, with the exit being guarded as much by fear as it was limitations we all have in ourselves. The ideas were simple though do this thing to free yourself or die. The test though is never something a person could imagine even in nightmares though, as one man finds when he is left naked in a room with an exit guarded by thick knots of razor wire. The game is to see whether or not people are willing to push past everything else and tap into their survival instinct and prove to themselves, and the killer, that they deserve to live. And now these two strangers must find what connections that may lie between them in the hopes of outsmarting their captor, either that or kill the other man and be free. But how much are they willing to pay for freedom, and is it worth the cost?

There is a lot to like about Saw you have a killer who is a diabolical mastermind for one. The traps and torture devices in this film are beyond belief and seem to stem from the age of the Inquisition. And the idea behind the film is gold what would you do to survive? How far would you go to live? We have all played that sort of game with ourselves and others, trying to see how far wed push to get free of something, but to see it in action, well, its obvious then how loaded the question is. Much like Suicide Circle/Club you have a great reason for the murders in order to force people that are floating (or worse) in their lives to make an assessment on how they lead their life and what they should do to better live it. I also love that this film pulls no punches. It is a brutal idea for a film and they follow through with that to the bitter end. And finally, here you have a satisfying and dread inducing ending that is about as shocking and interesting as any I have seen in a film like this. Want a case of the chills, you found your movie bucko.

I really did like this film but I have huge issue with the way time is dealt with here. We are shown a lot of the film in a series of flashbacks that mix personal recollection with omniscient recollection, and these two tracks get mixed, and badly. There are moments when in a personal recollection when we see plot elements that the person couldnt have seen and thats sloppy writing and filmmaking. And while I can understand the need for the way the film unravels, it makes it hard for the audience to stay connected to the main characters this way. Too many side characters are introduced for no real reason why is Dina Myer in this? Shes not a great actress but shes better than a five-minute walk through and it convolutes things. There are a lot of the clichd quick-cuts here as well that are always the bane of good horror. I can see why they were usedsort of, but it becomes a case of living down to the detractors if you do use this method. Too may bad horror films fall back on flash cuts to create false tension and to throw the audience off because, well, the filmmakers arent that talented. Here that isnt the case. These are talented filmmakers who just made some editing mistakes that almost killed the movie for me. There is an AWFUL car chase sequence that almost made me barf because it was so silly. And there was a point where the audience was lost while I watched it and they were laughing at what was happening? Why? Some of the writing is that bad, as is some of the acting. The actors are not bad actors, I think its that they were given some really bad lines at points in the film and it just is too difficult to make some of that stuff sound good. No matter how good an actor you are. Danny Glovers character as well is pretty bad. And I admit, I had lost faith as the film came to an end and it looked to be over.

Then everything changed and the filmmakers pulled out their ace and had me all over again. And my god what an ace card. I will say no more than not to lose faith when you see this film and to wait until all the cards are shown. And wow

This isnt as mind blowing as I had hoped, and, well, Se7en, but this is an awfully solid thriller that horror fans will love and the average thriller fan should dig on as well. The lower score is more of an acceptance on my part that it didnt live up to its own high goals with some of the weaker middle elements but man, this is a movie I am dying to see again, and thats as nice a thing as I can say about it.

c




7 out of 10 Jackasses
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