When Saw came out in theaters I remember all my classmates frantically telling anyone they could that they have to see this movie. At the time, I wasn’t as big into horror as I am now, so I didn’t feel the need to watch it immediately. When I did eventually see it, I was blinded. I didn’t know how to view a film, so I just strolled through the whole movie until that shock ending came and I immediately proclaimed it as the coolest film ever.
Many times horror films don’t age well, but to say Saw didn’t age well would be inaccurate. The fact is that the movie is littered with improbable scenarios, horrible acting, and unintentional humor. The film seemingly piles shit onto shit, but then wraps it with a pretty little bow at the end. Is a great twist ending enough to salvage an entire film?
The story revolves around two men, Adam (Leigh Whannell) and Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes). They wake up in a dilapidated bathroom, chained to the wall, and with no recollection of how they got there. It becomes clear that they are part of a sick game and must make morally challeging decisions in order to survive. We learn that the notorious serial killer, Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), is behind the plan and has a twisted way of helping or changing people's bad behaviors by putting them in life or death situations.
The plot is incredibly interesting, but the execution of it all is incredulous and laughable. The story itself doesn’t flow or connect thanks to repeated flashbacks and quick still shots. Ironically, the serial killer's name applies all too well to the film. It feels as if tons of random movie shots were thrown together in a puzzle format; unfortunately, it just creates a convoluted mess.
Even though the craftsmanship is shanty, there is something intriguing about the film. The creativity of the kill scenes are entertaining, even if the actors are horrible at making the viewer feel scared or involved. Ultimately, the film spirals more and more out of control until the twist ending. There is a definite wow factor, but it really isn’t enough to justify the hour and a half before it.
If I were an experienced horror viewer when I first saw this film, and not just a teenager, I wouldn’t have thought it was so incredible. Saw has the ability to shock, go viral, and create conversation, but it really doesn’t have the mastery to be a good horror film. Jigsaw may know how to create an interesting murder scene, but it is all superficial thanks to the lack of good acting and realism.
If you liked Saw, you might also like Hostel.