Film Reviews


By • Oct 29th, 2004 •

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QUOTE: A creepy raw classic. This movie is terrifying.

In April, 2003, Aron Ralston, a 27 year old climber, was pinned for 5 days under an 800 pound boulder in the Utah Canyonlands. He amputated his arm to save himself. He used a dull pocketknife and the operation took about an hour. Once free, he rappelled down 60 feet and walked 5 miles before finding help.

If you were in the same position as Ralston, would you have chopped off your arm with a pocketknife?

Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) and Adam (SAW’S screenwriter Leigh Whannel) wake up to find themselves in a filthy warehouse-dungeon chained to a metal pipe. They have no memory of how they got there. A dead man is in front of them in a pool of blood. He has a gun in his hand.

Each man has a tape in their pockets. Adam finds two saws. According to the tape Gordon has, all he has to do is kill Adam before 6 PM with the one bullet he has in his pocket. Or, they can saw through their legs to free themselves. Gordon, the more linear thinker, tries to dope out why they are in the room and what caused them to be chosen. Gordon does have a theory: A few months ago he was a suspect in a series of bizarre murders. The investigating detective, Detective David Tapp (Danny Glover), felt he was somehow connected to the crimes. Has the serial killer, called The Jigsaw Killer, now chosen him? What does Adam have to do with all this?

They are being watched. We are shown glimpses of the killer. We are intrigued. This is not a sloppy movie. The pieces fall into place as elegantly as a jigsaw puzzle.

Slowly Gordon puts the pieces together. In flashbacks, we see Gordon at the police station where he is a witness to another victim’s story. She escaped a horrific ordeal but had to kill someone in a very gruesome manner.

It is a cruel, ideological game but a well thought out one. I like movies about clever killers that does not rely on happenstance and bizarre coincidences. (You know what I mean – front doors conveniently left open.) Thrillers and horror movies have to be rooted in reality to be effective, but when circumstances must be illogically surmounted to advance the story, the audience feels betrayed.

I’m still bothered over how the zombies got into the mall in the remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD. Why didn’t the survivors consider locking the back door?

To push Gordon to act, The Jigsaw Killer has tied up his wife (Monica Potter) and daughter (Makenzie Vega). Damn was I scared.

This is the horror hope that drove the opening weekend box office for THE GRUDGE to forty million dollars. I hope all those GRUDGERS turn up to see a really terrifying horror movie that delivers gruesome violence and rampant evil-doing by The Jigsaw Killer.

Everything about SAW is creepy but, and here is why it is such a good movie, it has a psychological edge and complex characters. The story is well thought out. It is an intriguing thriller that has enough surprises that it is not a letdown.

First time director James Wan takes a small budget and uses every dollar. Wan has crafted a spine-chilling scenario with enough twists to keep the pace moving fast. The low budget does not detract from the film; in fact, it enhances the bloodcurdling atmosphere.

Bravado Wan and Whannel for delivering the goods!

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