March 5, 2015

A Revisitation: Saw

So, the other night I decided to revisit the original Saw. I was curious to see how it held up of if my opinion of it had changed. Now, I never officially reviewed it on its original release, and I am not reviewing it now, but I thought i would reflect on it a little bit now that my memory is refreshed. The movie, and series in general, has become something of a lightning rod in terms of mainstream horror and can sort of be looked at as a more current counterpart to the Friday the 13th films from the 1980's. You can see that, right?

In both cases you have original films that were not intended to be the start of a long running series. They were both low budget horror flicks that exploited gored special effects and both having something of a twist at the end. They were surprisingly poplar, spawned a long running series, and both were popular targets of the MPAA as they looked to protect the sensitivities of the mainstream. Also, there has been a bit of a love/hate relationship between horror fans and critics over the content, relevance and entertainment value.

I have never been the biggest fan of the series. It seemed, to me, hat he more movies that came out, the more they tried to tie everything together, a sneeze in part two will have repercussions on a life in part six, or some such nonsense. Still, I respect the act they tried to make this big epic series out of it. I also give it credit for being hat movie that helped break us out of the PG-13 horror rut that we fell into post-Scream.

I do like the first Saw. It takes a pretty simple premise and holds the interest of the audience. It was never shy about tossing around some blood, although you could see they danced around some ratings restrictions and perhaps some budgetary constraints. They managed to get a solid cast, with the likes of Danny Glover, Cary Elwes, and Dina Meyer. The writer/director team of Leigh Whannell and James Wan deliver some energy and excitement.

Saw is built on the reveal. It is not so much a twist, as it is a revelation of the true mastermind behind the plot. I think I could poke holes in it, like how was he able to stay so still, where was the trigger for the shocks, and things of that nature, but there is a little sleight of hand going on as they keep the pace moving to distract you from whatever inconsistencies there might be. To their credit, they do run it petty tight throughout the majority.

The idea behind Jigsaw is a unique one as well. So many horror/thriller killers/madmen/psychos/monsters are built on revenge or hatred that Jigsaw's reasoning is a little refreshing. Here you have a bad guy who has been given a raw deal and feels that people take life for granted,not really respecting what they have, especially those who have made poor choices in their lives. So, he devises these games of death as a test to make them think more about their life and not take it for granted. Sure, he is still nuts, but it is an interesting way to develop your villain.

The movie itself is solid, it is well paced, has more or less decent acting, and springs the surprise at the end really well with some nicely constructed tension. I doubt I will ever completely love it, but there is a lot to admire about this film on its own. It helped to usher in some R-rated horror, put a little blood back on the screen. And, to be honest, it is well constructed. I think it has suffered some backlash from the sequels, but that doesn't change it from working and being effective.

I would say my revisit was a success, I do not think it changed my point of view much, but what are you going to do? Saw can be considered a landmark film, whether you like it or not. It also introduced us to a solid filmmaker in James Wan.

I also reserve the right to revisit again with more thoughts and perhaps a more formal review.... And look, I made it all the way through without mentioning torture-porn! ah, dammit...

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