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Horrible, at best
The trouble with so-called horror flicks nowadays is that they're not scary. Worse yet, not only are they not scary but they're just downright boring, making it difficult for it to make that subtle yet delicious passage from bad to funny. "Saw", I wish I never did. At the eleventh minute of this snore-fest, I knew I was in for no treat. Yet the premise could have rendered an interesting story and maybe even some character development. It fails where movies like "Cube", for example, succeeded. It uses the psychological characteristics of each character, what makes them tick, to make the story move forward. This movie relies heavily on long, uninteresting flashbacks in which we learn surprising facts like: doctors are cold, calculating people with little or no hearts. Or: police officers are strong, willing, dedicated Americans, who will go to the fringe of madness and beyond to save a few lives. Or yet again: private detective artist-wannabe photographers live in rundown, crummy buildings, try to look cool and smoke cigarettes.
The first and foremost problem with "Saw" is that its creators like horror flicks but don't really know how to write beyond a paint-by-number model of flavour-of-the-month genre flicks. It's a little bit of Japanese-horror, a little bit of Poe, a little bit of snuff, a little bit of Cronenberg. And a lot of this thrown together yields crap. Although it might have been otherwise. "Saw" seems to feel like it has to please a certain number of crowds all at once, the most obvious being pseudo metal-heads McFarlane-toys collecting types. With its "dirty" Ringu-type aesthetic, and its incomprehensibly reccurent "trashy" 1990's goth-video fast-forward effects, "Saw" stumbles in the dark, looking for something to hang on to that will stick. I could go on and on here, but just thinking about this film leaves me perplexed.
Finally, why is it that in films like this (think "Identity", although that on was somewhat more watchable, or "Haute Tension") the culprit is always the guy you least expect? Oh, right, the dude hidden in the closet in the first frame of the twenty-third second of the film. I'm so surprised and shocked. Gee, he was there all along? What a maniac! Why the hell would a guy (who's what, pretending to be a cancer patient? Actually dying? I don't even want to know) go to all that trouble with the complicated traps and the Blade-Runner-rip-off dolls to teach people a good lesson about life. "Oh, you're so ungrateful that you're alive" Hell yes, I'm grateful I didn't shoot myself halfway through this junkheap. I would rather there be no explanation at all as to who is the killer than have a half-assed explanation...or I would just rather the guy be completely out of his mind for no apparent reason, or like he lost his job in a pig-slaughtering factory, like in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (NOT the remake).
I thought "Mindhunters" was horrible, and then I saw "Saw". But at least, the former was funny.
Also, if this movie had been a play, it would have been 30 times better. Just one room, two guys tied up. One single angle. Period.
Finally, Cary Elwes is incredibly bad in this. Actually, for the first 45 minutes of the film I was like, "He kinda looks like the guy from 'Princess Bride'". And then I realized he was. And I was sad.
Finally finally, I'm only giving this movie a 1 out of 10 because IMDb won't let me put a zero there. And because there was the one scene where the photographer guy flashes his light in his apartment which I thought was okay, cause the writers actually gave the character some consideration at that point and made him act accordingly.
That is all.
Môsô dairinin (2004)
First episode is looking promising
I only watched the first episode of this series, ("Paranoia Agent" in English), and it is looking good. The animation, as is always the case with Satoshi Kon productions is excellent. Characters have way more depth than too many of those silly redundant anime. For those of you familiar with Kon's world, you will notice some characters common to his world: the homeless, the working folk, the psychotic killer.
The mood of the show at the beginning is similar to that of the excellent "lain" series. Despite this it is very original in its treatment, though some element or "camera" angles are very much like any (live-action) thriller, in the same way that "Perfect Blue" reflected a classic thriller style. There are also some fantasy bits which will arise in the show if I must believe the walking-talking Maromi doll (a doll designed by the main character of the first show). From the looks of it, this is very much worth seeing.