Saw is the latest hyped horror release to hit our screens like some kind of jacked up version of Seven only even more gruesome. This is a fresh take on familiar ground as we follow the exploits of a disturbing serial killer and the unfortunates he preys upon. A fast paced, loud and unsettling film which is dripping with gore Saw succeeds more than it fails and makes for a pretty exhilarating hour and forty minutes viewing.
We open with two men chained to opposite sides of a seriously manky bathroom with a corpse lying on the floor between them. Neither remembers how they got there or has any idea what might be about to happen. The killer of the movie has set up the scene and the two men are fed clues which they gradually work through in the hope of escaping. The opening is nicely done and despite some shaky acting retains enough mystery to get you interested.
This film is packed with twists and turns which introduce new possibilities and increase the tension and if you haven´t seen it but intend to then don´t read on as there will be spoilers. One of the men is a young photographer named Adam and the other is a successful surgeon named Lawrence Gordon. They find audio tapes in their pockets, each containing a personal message from the killer himself and it transpires that Dr Gordon´s family is being held hostage and will be killed unless he kills Adam. This creates a nice dynamic and keeps you wondering about whether he will kill him given the chance.
The acting here is a bit of a weak link, Leigh Whannell as Adam was pretty unremarkable, as was the Doctor played by Cary Elwes. Danny Glover was more convincing as Detective Tapp, at least until he went mad but there wasn´t really anyone else worthy of mention. Not to say that the acting is terrible just a bit bland.
As time goes on the two captives start to remember things and try to work out who is responsible for their suffering. The past exploits of the killer are recounted flashback style as the Doc passes on some things he has heard. The killer has some kind of fetish for giving people dilemmas, they can avoid a hideous death but only by doing something that would leave them mentally scarred.
We are treated to the unpleasant sight of a fat man trying to escape from a cage full of razor wire and a girl with some kind of time release head masher desperately digging in some guy´s stomach to find the key that will save her. These scenes are shot in a fast strobe style and accompanied by very loud music and screaming. It was impossible not to be reminded of Seven, the grimy yet interesting sets, the complicated tortures which formed part of the killers plan and the slick, fast shots of the gruesome results. Saw is a much faster paced movie though and remained chiefly focused on the struggle for survival of the main characters.
The film was written and directed by James Wan and this is a decent first effort. The story itself is weak mainly because of the killer character; devices such as the creepy doll on his trike didn´t really work and resulted in laughter from the audience. Characters were cliched and some of the situations felt very predictable but the scares were well directed and the some of the twists worked brilliantly, especially the final one which I never saw coming. It does leave some gaping plot holes but then it covers a lot of ground almost like a series of mini horror situations. The story does seem to borrow from here and there and so it shouldn´t be much of a surprise that the direction does too. Many of the scenes are reminiscent of other recent horror or thriller films but Saw ties them together quite nicely and the end result does feel fresh.
Saw is an enjoyable horror film, although gruesome, much of the horror is left to the imagination and shot in such a way as to avoid being overly graphic. Most of the tension comes from the booming music and sound effects and the frenetic pacing. The story is definitely a bit suspect but as a piece of entertainment this film works and I expect horror fans will like it.