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"Game over"

Sept 18th, 2009

It's that time of year again and Saw VI is almost upon us – nothing says Halloween more than extreme gore. I was looking forward to the last instalment until the recent announcement of Saw VII 3D. With that in mind I want to take a look back at where it began a mere six years ago when the jigsaw killer could only admire the might of legends such as Freddy and Jason.

I never rushed out to see Saw (how amusing). It had good reviews but the trailer made the film look too much like Seven and I wasn't up for a rip off. My friends praised the movie and its killer twist so much that I dragged myself to the theatre not expecting much. As the credits rolled I was ready to convert to the church of Jigsaw.

The film begins with two men trapped in a room with no idea how they got there (sounds like a Sunday morning to me) and only a dead body to keep them company. After being informed on tape by the Jigsaw killer that one must kill the other to survive, a deadly game begins as both men try to piece together their past to find a way to escape.

Set mainly in one room the great performances by Carey Elwes and Leigh Whannell (who also wrote the movie) hold the film up. Both actors react the way you would expect leaving you wondering exactly how you would react in a similar situation. The mystery set up at the start begins to unravel through a series of flashbacks which take numerous twists leaving the viewer questioning who is the Jigsaw killer?

It's hard to review the film without a bit of nostalgia due to the legacy of yearly visits but in truth the flick does not hold up well. Probably the revelations throughout the sequels squander the awe in your first viewing. This film was not meant for a franchise it wasn't even meant to be horror, just a simple thriller.

The sets look cheap (all the better for the blue and green camera filters), the music video quick cuts just don't work rather than creating the feeling of terror they are an irritant blocking a good view of the traps – something which this film is severely lacking. I know it was the first but we only get one real trap involving the character Amanda (more on her in my review on the sequel).

Aside from the two main actors everyone else gives piss poor performances; Riggs would be ashamed of you Danny Glover. Clearly you are too old for this shit. The flashbacks only serve the purpose of setting up Jigsaw's motive – fascinating as it was we got the point after the first 10 minutes. The ongoing police investigation has no real payoff by the end of the film making it irrelevant.

The musical score is adequate you don't really notice it so it did its job just fine. One piece sold the film and that's the track 'Hello Zepp' that plays out during the twist ending and credits, it is amazing and has become a signature for the series The twist ending needs to be discussed – if you haven't seen the film scroll past the next paragraph.

**SPOILERS BEGIN** As the supposedly dead man rises from the floor it's a great moment but hardly qualifies as a twist more a shock. There is no indication that this was possible even on repeat viewings and the quick flashes to earlier scenes don't reveal anything aside from who the killer was, basically an extra in one scene. On my first viewing this was great but over time I've realised I was caught up in something that had more style than substance. **SPOILERS END**

The lack of death stop this from making true horror (most are already dead when found) perhaps my initial thoughts of a Seven rip off were correct. It's great to play spot the star as every member of the cast has appeared in something else from Lost to Becker and of course Monica Potter graces the screen with her beauty, worth the price alone.

Saw remains a good film but its many flaws don't hold up on repeat viewings. The look of the film is original and anyone who hasn't seen it should but only once unless they wish to tarnish an amazing experience. 7/10

Best Kill
It's not really a kill as the victim doesn't die but Amanda Young's head trap its fantastic

Billy the puppet appears in all of director James Wan's movies
Saw II was given the go ahead the opening weekend of Saw
Was the closing film for the Toronto film festival

Other reviews in the series

Saw II
Saw IV
Saw V
Saw VI
Saw 3D (Saw VII)

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Movie Details

Movie Poster Here
Director: James Wan
Screenplay:James Wan
Leigh Whannell
Released: 2004
Rating: 18
Starring:Carey Elwes
Leigh Whannell
Danny Glover