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Movie Review: Saw

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The trailer for this popped up on the net many months ago, I remember it as I believe it was an internet only trailer. I don’t believe it went through the MPAA, it was spreading without the familiar “This film is rated…” band on it. I also remember it because of the tagline it used: “How F*cked Up Is That?” And judging by the images, it is. I also got the feeling that it was going to end up being a low rent Se7en ripoff. I ended up being right on both counts. Another striking image used in the promotion of Saw was one of the posters, it featured a woman with this bizarre metal contraption strapped to her head. Going in to the theater, I had mixed expectations. I realized that it was probably not going to be a good movie, what I hoped for was a grueling horror experience. For the most part I wasn’t disappointed, for what it was, it worked well. And then there is also the odd presence of Danny Glover(Lethal Weapon) and Cary Elwes(The Princess Bride), not among the usual suspects for movies of this type.

The movie follows some astounding leaps of logic, and also An amazing lack of connection between characters where you think there should be. The story is a convoluted mess which doesn’t really tie together all that well, rather, it manipulates the audience to it’s desired effect. The camera is used to reveal rather than show. That is a problem with the movie, the story doesn’t progress in a normal way, instead it jerks along in fits and starts following a series slow build to payoffs which don’t really payoff. The ending could be seen coming, but the series of set’s makes you forget what happened before.

I will say that I enjoyed it, not as much as I had hoped, though. What it succeeds in doing is creating an atmosphere of dread, but not the kind that draws you into the plights of the characters, it keeps the audience at arms length. This is a movie that you don’t let yourself get wrapped up in the details, if you do, you will be disappointed. What we get are some of the more inventive ways of killing someone in a film in many years.

The story follows the search for a killer, nick named Jigsaw for the calling card he leaves at the scenes. We learn the tale through fragmented flashback. Our two main characters, Dr Laurence Gordon (Cary Elwes) and Adam(screenplay writer Leigh Whannell), are trapped in a public restroom and chained on opposite sides of a dead body in the middle of the floor. Clues were left for them to attempt to figure a way out of the predicament. It turns out that the good Dr. Gordon knows more than he initially let’s on, he was a suspect at one point. So know we are launched into the flashbacks where Gordon tells what he knows. These flashbacks show us some of the inventively gruesome ways that Jigsaw has killed in the past, and leads us into the current predicament. I can’t really explain more without diving into spoiler territory, which I don’t want to do.

There are problems with the flashback telling of the tale. Mainly there is no clear delineation of when we are in flashback or when we are in parallel with the various threads, this hurts the films timeline flow. Also, the outcome is hinged a set of coincidence’s that could not be planned.

On another note, the biggest issue with he movie is with the story, the rest of the film is done very well. The look is very good. It lives in a world of washed out colors and impending doom. A creepy atmosphere of death and decay, and it looks great. The acting is also very good, bordering comical at times. The characters don’t always make sense in their actions, or place in the story, but the actors do a good job at making us believe that they make sense. The camera work and cinematography are good. For this type of movie, you’re not going to get a much better looking movie. Plus the inventiveness of some of the sets is worth seeing.

Bottomline. Much like The Grudge, I can see people leaning to the far left and right sides, with not much in the middle. You’re either going to like it or hate it, I stay with liking it. I choose to overlook most of the story issues and go along for what turned out to be a rather grueling ride.

Recommended.

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