In 2003, then-unknown filmmaker James Wan (The Conjuring series, Aquaman, Furious 7) made a live-action short film titled, “Saw.” The story focuses on a man named, David recalling how he escaped the clutches of a serial killer by playing a “game” to remove a booby trap. Thanks to Lionsgate, the production company approved a screenplay based on the short film with a budget less than a million. After a year of polishing, Lionsgate distributed James’ first full-length film worldwide.
Saw was officially released in 2004. (same year Dawn of the Dead came out) It received mixed reviews from critics and movie goers alike. Despite mixed reception, the film made revenue at the box office. Overtime, Saw gain a cult following among horror movie enthusiasts. Saw spawned a franchise eight sequels from 2004-2021, two video games, costumes and merchandise. A tenth installment is in the works with Tobin Bell reprising his role as Jigsaw. It’ll be released on October 27, 2023. Twenty Years after the short film that started it all. James Wan’s upcoming projects are “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” & “M3GAN.”
This review contains no SPOILERS whatsoever. For those who are new to the Saw, series, feel free to check out my non-spoiler article.
Free & Captured Aspects
Free: Danny Glover, Cary Elwes, Michael Emerson, Ken Leung & Tobin Bell all did an excellent job for their respective performances.
Shawnee Smith makes a brief appearance as Amanda Young. She shows up later in other installments.
James Wan did a great job directing. He made sure everything’s organized.
The Narrative is presented in a non-linear structure or in this case, out-of-order sequence.
James’ business partner Leigh Whannell wrote the script. He also plays Adam Stanheight. Leigh also directed “Insidious.”
Mr. Wan mentioned Saw’s influenced by low-budget films including “The Blair Witch Project” & “Pi.” Another influence is a scene from the first “Mad Max” film in which the titular character forces a criminal with his leg chained up. He gives him a choice. Either cut off the leg or be left for dead.
Death Scenes doesn’t pull any punches. They’re extremely brutal. If you have a weak stomach, be prepared. Bring a barf bag just in case.
Practical Effects were heavily involved creating Jigsaw’s deadly traps. my favorite trap is the shotgun on the ceiling pointing at the floor. Billy the Puppet deserves an honorable mention.
Former Nine Inch Nails member Charlie Clouser orchestrated the film.
Scare Factor felt natural. Never relys on Jump Scares. One moment that got me jumping is a scene with one character using a camera to take a snapshot for light. Mr. Wan got me with a legit scare.
Prior to their abduction, we learn about Adam & Lawrence’s daily lives.
A Plot Twist changes everything. A much better first than M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village.”
Primary Themes are Manipulation, Survival & Paranoia. Each one’s handled maturely.
Pacing never felt fast or slow. I kept myself invested to see if anybody makes it out alive.
I can’t tell you how it ends. You’ll have to see for yourself.
Captured: Cinematography can be janky at times. Ugh! I hate it whenever a cameraman doesn’t know how to keep camera steady!
The Final Verdict: A-
A near perfect psychological horror crime-thriller, Saw is arguably the best installment of the franchise. I’ve yet to rewatch the sequels. In the meantime, I highly recommend the first film. Don’t forget to check out the short film.
I almost forgot, Happy Halloween fellow movie goers.