Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


I remember getting this movie on VHS before the sequels began milking the crap out of this movie. I had never heard of it before and figured that I might enjoy it since it had Danny Glover in it. Plus a severed hand and foot were on the cover and that was a bonus. I watched it once when I was 14 and enjoyed it and that was it.  

I personally haven't seen any of them beyond Saw III because I decided that three was enough for me. I didn't really see a point in extending the series beyond the third movie. Honestly, I still don't see the point in it being a series at all. The first movie works perfectly fine by itself. It's not a great film, but it is pretty decent even though it really doesn't hold up so well on repeat viewings. The sequels are even worse when it comes to repeat viewings because with the first one at least no one knew there was going to be a twist ending. Saw II (my least favorite of the three) and Saw III (liked this one enough to be glad I saw it in theaters but still not better than the first one) indulged in the same kind of twist ending style, too. The reason I didn't watch any of the other Saw movies was because I knew that twist endings are not twist endings when they happen all the time. That just isn't a twist anymore; that's formula. 

And the sequels moved more into the horror/torture genre, too. The first film is not too gory or a torture porn movie. Anybody who says otherwise has never seen this movie. There is one scene where it gets kind of "torture-y", but almost all of the bloodletting happens off-screen. Things are hinted at and sometime shown, but never excessively. 

This film is much more of a dark mystery thriller in the vein of Se7en or The Silence of the Lambs than a gory modern horror movies like Hostel or Final Destination. It's the sequels that began to focus more on the unique ways to torture people. The sequels focused more on the acts and how gruesome they were. The first one certainly knew how to be gruesome, but it wasn't over the top. 

Chances are you know the story by now. 

Two guys are trapped in a rundown bathroom and are forced to make terrifying choices in order to survive. Of course, there's a bit more to it than that. But I'll save that for the movie to tell if you haven't seen it.  

The storytelling is shaky and filled with flashbacks. So many that you could find yourself momentarily lost if you aren't paying attention. While the story of the detectives (Danny Glover, Ken Leung) helps fill time and provides for a few red herrings here and there this movie is primarily about the victims played by Cary Elwes and Leigh Whannell. Since a large part of this story is told in flashbacks from the point of view of the victims it becomes a bit bizarre when we see a flashback from Danny Glover's point of view. 

It's almost like the writers of this flick knew that you couldn't find out more about Jigsaw by sticking with the victims who are stuck in a broken down bathroom so they had to find a way to fill gaps in the story. This method works to a degree, but it makes you wonder why Glover himself wasn't given a larger part in this movie. I mean, nothing is learned about his character at all while we are traveling with him. Yeah, he's obsessed with Jigsaw, but what else? He's just that stereotypical tough guy cop with no social life. That's all. I guess that is supposed to remind us that he isn't at the center of the action, but he is certainly a key ingredient that I felt was underutilized. 

This film is a pretty good one despite its budget restrictions and herky jerky style of storytelling. Tobin Bell is what makes this a classic, though. He is the voice of Jigsaw in this movie and that does provide for a few creepy moments, but it is his very brief appearance at the end that is what really catapults this movie above a lot of others. Yeah, it's a cliche now, but I had no freaking idea that all that time... Okay, I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it. It really is the ending that makes this movie though and that is exactly why repeat viewings don't quite hold up so well. Once you know the secret then the whole movie becomes insanely obvious even if the result is a bit far-fetched. 

However, it is still better than a lot of its imitators even if Saw itself imitates Se7en just a bit.

My advice? Avoid all the sequels and stick with the original. 

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