Saw (2004)
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Review Date: October 22, 2004
Director: James Wan
Writer: Leigh Whannel, James Wan
Producers: Mark Burg, Gregg Hoffman, Oren Koules
Carey Elwes as Dr. Gordon
Leigh Whannel as Adam
Danny Glover as Tapp
A young man and a doctor, complete strangers to one another, wake up in a dirty, warehouse chamber one day, chained to the walls by their legs with another dead man, lying on the floor between them. They are told that they don't have much time to live and will likely die in that room, unless they play the "game" correctly and survive. A really creepy movie ensues.
I've seen my share of fucked up movies over the past few years, films that mess with the mind, twists things inside-out, pull the rug from under you with only a few minutes left, but SAW still managed to crank me into its vice, knock me over the head with its fascinating mystery and ultimately provide me with an all-around snuff-like atmosphere, complete with dreary sets, creepy characters and human torture disguised as entertainment. If you're not a fan of the macabre, if you didn't like films like SE7EN and THE CELL, if watching several people placed in incredibly deadly and comprising situations by one of the scariest puppets this side of my sock drawer ain't your idea of a gruesome fun ride, than skip this movie and rent SCREAM again for your "horror" fill. If, on the other hand, you want to watch a movie that delves into the dark side of the human psyche, allows you to question what you might do in a dire situation involving your own possible demise, those of your loved ones or a human being who you might not know, believe the disturbing images put forth via this film's extremely effective teaser trailers, bring your girlfriend along, a bat, some stale popcorn and have a blast! What surprised me the most about this movie, other than its C-list actors actually coming through in their well-written roles, was how the film's ending still managed to impress me, despite having seen so many movies of its type over the years. If you can still surprise and slap me across the face after all this time...you've written a solid movie that I would heartily recommend to one, and even, all. Another cool aspect of this film is its opening, which puts you right into the heart of the darkness as two complete strangers wake up to find themselves chained up in a room with a dead guy (like a weekend at the Arrow's).

It also reminded me of my favorite movie of the year so far, OLD BOY, which starts off with a similar premise, but deals more with the revenge aspect of the torture, as opposed to this film, which turns into more of a "game" for your life. I also appreciated the film's dark and grungy style, some of its super-speed sequences, which really give you a sense of the mind-boggling nature of the elements sprung onto these unsuspecting human beings, by an apparent psychopath of the highest level. The imagery in the movie isn't as graphic as you might think, but many of the sick ideas presented are gravely disgusting and sure to turn off anyone looking for a teen chick from the WB in a white tight tanktop. Director James Wan also manages to sustain a suspenseful pace throughout the film, with clues dropped in here and there, flashbacks providing more insight into the bizarre nature of the crimes (are you considered a murderer if you don't actually kill anyone, but get others to kill themselves?), as well as a great musical score that pulls you further into the film's shadows. The dialogue and performances by all of the actors provide further believability to the over-the-top happenings, especially Leigh Whannel (also the film's co-screenwriter) and an almost unrecognizable Carey Elwes. Danny Glover also works as the tenacious cop looking for answers. My favorite line from this movie, and maybe any film this year, was "Fuck this shit!!" Trust me, when you see it used in this picture, you will be 100% behind that sentiment. Fuck that shit, dude...like, seriously! At the end of the day, this film is a creepy, mysterious, novel addition to Lion's Gate's impressive array of horror acquisitions, and I would easily recommend it to anyone looking for something that will grate you the wrong way, rub you the right way and provide you with just enough goosebumps to add to the ones already present in your everyday life. And did I mention the creepy-ass puppet? Yipes!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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