In a dirty, disused bathroom, two men find themselves chained to pipework in opposite corners, well out of reach of each other. Neither Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) nor Adam (Leigh Whannell) knows how they got there, or how they are supposed to get out – but they soon learn. They have been taken captive as part of the sadistic game created by Jigsaw – a serial killer whose identity is unknown to city cops, and who Lawrence himself was suspected of being when bodies started being discovered a few months before. It would appear that Jigsaw has a lesson to teach people, and that his games are actually some sort of test to see how far people will go in order to ensure their survival. One cop who is determined to catch this killer is Detective David Tapp (Danny Glover), who lost his partner and almost his own life to the case when the murders first started. The game has begun. Live or die – make your choice…
A good few years ago during a day off from school I was rather naughty and raided the cupboard for a DVD I had been eyeing up for quite some time. That DVD was Saw, and fifteen year old me had walked away from the film feeling slightly disappointed by the lack of gore in it. Three years later, I have decided to give the franchise another go, and my first port of call was to refresh my memory of the film that started it all off.
Performances in this film are fairly bog-standard I think. They’re not awful, but there’s nothing particularly stand-out about them. Perhaps this is because there’s nothing to really cling onto with any of them? Cary Elwes as Dr. Gordon isn’t what you’d call the most likeable character, and Leigh Whannell as Adam is one of those people who you just really struggle to care about. I can kind of excuse these faults in character however, as I don’t think anyone had banked on Saw turning into the hugely successful franchise that it did at the time when this film was made. The last thing anyone would’ve wanted to do was create a hugely open storyline with characters that show major promise and then have the film fall on its face and it go no further from there.
I remember when I first watched Saw all those years ago; I was left fairly disappointed by it. I had been expecting all kinds of blood and gore, but to my surprise there was very little to actually be seen in the film. However, this time I viewed the film a little differently and found I appreciated it a lot more. This first film kind of fits into the same category of film as Se7en does – it has elements of horror, but is more suited to the crime thriller genre. I would urge anyone who felt let down by the film first time round to try looking at it from this same angle as it massively helped me to enjoy it more.
All in all, James Wan’s debut film is a highly watchable film that undeniably has to be part of any horror marathon, even if it doesn’t fully fit into that genre. It is a fine detective thriller that works the mind as much as it entertains the eyes. And, of course, it proved to be a hugely popular film as it was followed by a further six, so who am I to talk anyway?