Not really a big fan of these ‘Torture Porn’ Movies. But the earliest of the franchises films was actually not as bad as later additions, and had a half decent story behind it.
Director: James Wan
Screenwriter: Leigh Whannell, James Wan
Starring: Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannell, Danny Glover
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Rating: 3 Stars
Saw was really where the whole genre of ‘Torture Porn’ Horror movies got it’s big jumping off point. However whereas later additions to the franchise try to outdo each other with bigger and gorier traps, this first film actually had a semi decent story to move it along and enough of a shock ending to leave your jaw on the floor.
Two men wake up chained to the wall in a bathroom, with no idea how they got there. As they begin to piece thigs together, they discover they are part of a sadistic game being played by a serial killer known only as ‘Jigsaw’ who likes to test his victims willingness to stay alive. How far are these men willing to go to live through the night?
There are some things that this film does well. The fact that the vast majority of this film takes place in one room, and between to characters, who can’t really move around all that much, is a testament to how well the story is actually written. You get a lot of the backstory of the characters through short flashbacks, and there is a side story happening elsewhere that doesn’t get a great deal of focus til the end. But other than that, the whole film rakes place within a grubby bathroom. This adds to the claustrophobic and desperate atmosphere of the film, and you really do start to root for these guys.
Of course, films like this rely a lot on shock value to get the word of mouth out there. So, the few other traps we get to see are as cringe inducing and sadistic as you would expect in a Saw film. Though I honestly believe that you could have done away with a lot of that and just had the two main characters in the bathroom and you would still have had a decent film.
This franchise had a very promising start, and if all the other films would have carried in in this vein, then maybe people would still be excited when they see that a new Saw film is being released in Theatres, rather than just rolling their eyes.
With ‘Spiral’ being released later this year, it will be interesting to see if they can reinvent this franchise into something to get excited for. But for now, if you want to see where the franchise started out, SAW is available widely for home release and digital download.