WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS WHAT SOME MAY PERCEIVE AS MINOR SPOILERS.
Are you one of those people who, like me, consider horror to be a fading form of cinema? Since the onset of horror, films like Psycho and Halloween have set the standards with upending originality, but since then, almost every horror picture has been a so-so “who-done-it?” mix of blood, gore, and suspense. Subsequently, if you plan on seeing Saw – that is, if you weren’t too disturbed by its trailer and tagline – let me tell you this: Saw is surprisingly innovative given its genre, but with its inconsistent pacing, under par acting, and cynical final twist, it's a film that most will surely downgrade. Although, I wouldn't be surprised to see a select few hail Saw and its inconsistencies as a cult classic.
When asked, “Is Saw a picture that I appreciate or depreciate?” my answer is: I’m on the fence. Immediately after leaving the theatre, I felt like I just witnessed a recommendable psychological horror. However, during the drive home, as the time ticked by, less and less of the film started to make sense. As far as the final twist is concerned, it’s seems as though freshman screenwriter Leigh Whannell tried to take Nickelback’s advice of “let’s rewrite an ending that fits, instead of a Hollywood horror”, except Whannell came up a few pennies short. Not only is the ending overcooked, but it also tries to drive home a message about the importance of appreciating life, health, and family. Even so, despite all of Saw’s flaws, it is still a disturbing, encompassing, and enthralling motion-picture--if you like this sort of film. In terms of the end result, Saw basically presents a good premise that could have been better produced.
The film opens with Adam (Leigh Whannell – who also wrote the screenplay) and Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes – who hasn’t been in anything worthy of note since The Princess Bride) trapped in an old abandoned restroom that doesn’t look like it has seen Mr. Clean’s shiny bald head in a few decades. Both Adam and Dr. Gordon find themselves chained to pipes on opposite sides of the room—unable to reach each other or the lifeless body that lies between them in the middle of the floor. They both are given various clues including a key, a bullet, a tape recorder, two tapes with instructions, two saws, and so on. The men are told they are going to play a game and that the only way to win the game is for Dr. Gordon to kill Adam by 6:00pm. Already dumb-founded at how they even ended up in the room, the two men attempt to maintain their composure, solve the puzzle, and make it out of the nightmare alive.