The premise of the film itself is SAW’s biggest strength, and the idea of a serial killer who forces his victims to kill themselves makes for an enormously compelling movie. Thankfully, no time is wasted with needless setup—the audience is thrown directly in to the room, as bewildered as the two captives. You’ll be glued to the screen until you find out exactly what the hell’s going on (which isn’t until the very last frames of the movie, despite whatever you think you may have figured out). And if the entire movie had taken place inside that room, as Lawrence and Adam slowly lose their minds trying to escape, SAW would’ve been a Grade-A psychological thriller.
Unfortunately, however, Wan cuts back and forth between a few superfluous plotlines, which is where the film loses its grip on the viewer’s balls. There is a very clichéd cops-chasing-killer storyline with Danny Glover and that Asian guy from RUSH HOUR (I just realized that doesn’t narrow it down too much, sorry) that falls flat. The same with the flashbacks to Lawrence and his family—Cary Elwes has about as much chemistry with his wife and daughter as I have with a dead cat. There are a lot of creative and effective touches (the reverse bear trap, the pig-masked killer, and especially that creepy-ass puppet), but general rule of thumb: anytime you leave the room, the movie slows down to a halt. And while I can be forgiving to a first-time director working with a low budget, it’s the acting in SAW that really hurts it. Understandably, writer Leigh Whannell's turn as Adam is his first major role, but honestly, I expect more out of you Mr. Elwes and Mr. Glover. (Perhaps, Danny is getting “too old for this shit.”)
SAW may suffer from the occasional bad acting or eye-rolling plot point, but I doubt that will keep viewers any less enthralled by what happens to Adam and Lawrence inside the room. Which is a good thing; since SAW has one of the most mind-blowing endings I can remember and it makes the film as a whole all the more satisfying.
Commentary by James Wan, Leigh Whannell and Cary Elwes: I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much laughter in a commentary before. All three guys are obviously good friends and they drop all sorts of knowledge about the movie—and make fun of each other the whole time. Never a dull or silent moment for the entire 100 minutes, and well worth a listen, if just for the sheer entertainment value.
Commentary with Mark Burg, Gregg Hoffman and Oren Koules: Comments from the producing team who make up Twisted Pictures (the company with that sweet logo at the beginning of the film). If you’re interested in how movies are produced (not just filmed, but financed, cast, set up, all that good stuff), this’ll definitely interest you.
Hacking Away at SAW - Behind the Scenes (36:07): Three segments covering the pre-production, filming and editing/film festival process. Pretty insightful stuff and it really highlights how quick and cheap Saw was made. Kudos to Wan and Whannell for actually pulling it off.
Exclusive Episode of "Full Disclosure Report" (14:27): A fake news show that “investigates” the Jigsaw killer, complete with fake 911 tapes, interviews with serial killer experts, and even a piece on a group of children having a bake sale to raise money for the killer’s victims. Somewhat interesting, but it goes on a bit long.
SAW Director's Original Short Film in 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio (9:26): The original short film that Wan and Wanell showed to producers to get financing. It’s basically just the reverse bear trap sequence with Whannell wearing the device, but still a cool feature when you compare it to the final movie. And that puppet still gives me the creeps.
Alternate Storyboard Sequence (2:24): A storyboard animatic of the director’s original idea for the Jigsaw workshop sequence, which due to time and budget constraints, was trimmed down.
On-set preview of SAW 2 (3:35): I still think Lions Gate is rushing SAW 2 out just to make a quick buck, but the clip they included here is more intense than anything in the original SAW. Hmmm, could the sequel actually be any good?
Jigsaw’s Workshop DVD-ROM Feature: Build your own scary-ass talking puppet and send it to your friends. (Please do not send any to me.)
The DVD also includes a Gallery of the director’s concept art, as well as Trailers for SAW 2, HIGH TENSION, and other Lion’s Gate releases (including… DARK HARVEST 2: THE MAIZE. Sweet!) There’s also a pretty funny Easter Egg hidden on the disc although I won’t spoil it for you (Hint: X marks the spot.).
One last thing…the cover art for this edition is freaking awesome! It’s the film’s poster placed inside a liquid-filled pouch, so there’s actually blood and a circular saw floating around the case. Between my friends and me, hours of our lives have been wasted mesmerized by it. Best. Cover. Ever.