And…..we’re off! This is the first part of The Countdown to Halloween special feature, where I review a classic horrorfilm of a franchise that has at least had 5 or more parts. The Saw movie franchise has a terrifying reputation, and admittedly it deserves this. Decribed by many as torture porn, the films feature increasingly brutal and horrifying ways where people get maimed and killed. I can’t really argue with that, but more on that later. But what a lot of people don’t know, or might even have forgotten, is that the first Saw film did not really focus on this. It certainly contained horror elements, but it was more of a thriller along the lines of movies such as Silence of the Lambs and Seven. And even more important is that it featured a very good script, with some nailbiting sequences.
Just imagine the scene: the lights turn on and reveal a very filthy room where two men are chained by their ankles to the wall. In between them lies the corpse of a man who seems to have committed suicide by blowing his brains out. Who put them there, and more importantly: why? It soon becomes clear that the pair have become the victims of the sadistic Jigsaw serial killer. Although technically he can’t really be called a killer, as all of the people he kidnapped eventually killed themselves. Every single person that has been captured by him, gets put into a situation where they have to complete certain things in order to save themselves. But these are no ordinary things, and often involve really stomache churning traps or tasks they have to perform in order to escape. The men in the room have to start working together if they have any chance of getting out of the room alive. But trust is hard to come by, and there seems to be more of a connection between the two than either of them realise. With time running out, will the two of them become the next victim of Jigsaw, or will they be able to solve the puzzle……?
One of the hardest things to realise in any movie is a good ending. I have seen plenty of films that got ruined by a horrible finale that truly made the entire movie a waste of time. Saw however, has a twist at the end that you will never see coming. I remember my jaw dropping to the floor the first time I had seen that ending. Yes, it really was that good, and it still ranks as one of the best endings that I have ever seen for a movie. And trust me when I say that I have seen quite a number of films. As mentioned this first Saw movie really is more of a thriller and doesn’t feature the gore that the franchise became so infamous for in later installments. There are certainly a couple of bloody scenes, and this is where the horror elements come in, but it never gets especially horrific. That is why this film can be enjoyed by people who like thrillers, but don’t like being grossed out by a lot of ketchup that splatters everywhere.
The actors in this film give decent enough performances though none of them are Oscar worthy. But they are good enough, and that is what counts. Veteran actor Danny Glover, who most people will know from the Lethal Weapon series, plays the part of a cop that has become obsessed by finding Jigsaw. So obsessed in fact that he pretty much loses all sense of everyone around him, and almost doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process. Actor Tobin Bell plays Jigsaw, and that role could not have been cast any more perfectly. His natural creepy charisma, together with his chilling voice, give life to a terrifying but equally fascinating movie villain. Though his part in this first movie is admittedly minimal, a fact that would change in the sequels.
The Saw franchise
As with most horrormovies sequels are hard to pull off, especially if the first one was such a strong movie. It also usually involves turning the things that made the original such a great watch, into something more bloody and gory. And never was this any more true than with Saw. The first sequel kept things relatively mild, but with part 3 things really went downhill…..fast. After the first part, Saw spawned 6 sequels with the last installment dating back to 2010. One of the strongest points of these movies is that the twists at the end were still usually very cool. Except for the last part which was really a horrible film, and had an ending that you could see coming from a mile away. But I won’t lie to you, the sequels are downright nasty. They feature seriously gory scenes, and I can understand that most people get turned off by them. For me the entire franchise is a bit of a guilty pleasure. I liked the traps that got more eleborate with every sequel made, and I still enjoyed most of the scripts for the films.
This year Saw returns with part 8, and it will be interesting to see in what direction the franchise will go. I personally hope it returns to the thriller aspect of the original and will feature less gore. The first trailer, which I have included down below, looks promising enough, and I guess we just have to wait and see if this will turn the series back on the right track.
The first Saw movie is just simply put, a classic in the horrorgenre. Every fan of horror or really good thrillers should see this film at least once in his or her life. While it certainly won’t please everyone, I do think that most people will enjoy the film, and don’t get me started again on that twist at the end. So, I guess that’s it for part 1 of this special feature. The next movie in this 5 part series will be the original Friday the 13th film. And now it’s over to you! Have you seen the first Saw movie? What did you think of the franchise in general? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading, and see you next time!
I give Saw a 9 out of 10 score.