Saw is a film I was rooting for. It had the potential to be a grubby, nasty, eyesore of a film. But while it had gore and sadism in spades, it also had horrible acting, a terrible script and forgettable characters. Not even a man hacking off his own foot could make me overlook the tripe.
Well, having said that, Cary Elwes hacking off his own foot did help somewhat, but the scene, rather than being traumatic, was a laugh riot. You have hysterical direction (you quickly cut from screaming man to screaming man close-ups of screaming men, especially when you quickly go from one to another, for some reason, always cracks me up), camp acting from Elwes (throughout the film he chews the scenery, but here he chews on his shirt) and cut around the scene is a hilarious car chase between Danny Glover and the red herring bloke. The cumulative effect is mucho laughter.
The car chase, though, I think, of all of the funny things in the film, was the funniest. It was possibly the most low-rent thing I've seen in recent cinema. And although I acknowledge the fact that the filmmakers were working on a paltry budget, it still doesn't make it any less funny when you film grown-men pretending to drive stationary cars that are not so carefully given life by a bit of smoke and jittery camera-work and editing. Rear-projection would have looked a million times more convincing.
Another budgetary giveaway was the car park that looked like it was filmed in a barn and which contained about five cars. I know you're meant to suspend your disbelief, and if the film were good I'd be able to do that, but when your film is ridiculous, it's just another nail in the coffin.
But sniping aside, I do appreciate what the filmmakers have done with so little money. Although visually a rip-off of Seven, it does look good and most of the effects are pretty decent. However, I just wish they would have spent a bit more money on the script and cast someone (anyone) else in Elwes' role.
Elwes is an actor who can get by just as long as he's not required to emote he can just about have a normal conversation. But once he's got to express anger or sadness or love, he's out of his depth. And so it is in Saw, sometimes with spectacular results.
My favourite Elwes moment is when he recognises Zep (the red herring) in a photo and starts shouting like the man is alive inside it. Yes, if you shout loud enough the person in the photo WILL hear. (That's true.) But there's also the bit where the phone rings. He thinks it's Zep, so he shouts at the phone with camp venom. But it's his wife, so on a sixpence he changes into a doe-eyed husband, quivering with love and affection. Neither extreme is expressed in a believable way. But it doesn't help that Elwes has a weird thing he does with his voice. When he shouts he tries to boom like Brian Blessed, but when he expresses sadness or regret he talks in a child-like voice, almost like Joe Pasquale. It's a tad odd. And it makes his shooting of Adam bloody hysterical. "You have to die. I'm sowwy. My family."
But Danny Glover is almost as bad. He goes metal when his partner gets killed by the fiendish Jigsaw Killer and tries to apprehend him on his own. But Danny Glover's portrayal of madness only extends to lots of incomprehensible shouting there's a brilliant bit where he runs out of bullets and charges the armed Zep while shouting "Aaaaaaarrrggghhh!!" But he does it again after the fight and as he runs out of the apartment to continue his pursuit. "Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!!" And of course you then cut to the car chase and the foot cutting, which makes the film so overripe in tone that the only result can be hilarity.
But that's kind of a shame, as the first half is pretty promising. I especially love the ingenious traps. My favourite is the razor wire. Suicidal man rips himself to shreds? Magnificent! And the scene where the woman had to stab the man and root through his guts had me cackling with delight. But I do have to admit that neither sequence disturbed me as it should. Indeed, they both made me laugh. And this is purely because of how they were filmed. Large parts were speeded up to capture the frenzied emotions of the characters, but it's a technique that always gives me the giggles. It's just so over the top and hysterical, that rather than unsettle me, it distances me from the grisly proceedings and makes me enjoy them in a way I'm sure the filmmakers didn't intend.
And that goes for the whole film. I enjoyed it, but not in the intended way. I was laughing at the camp acting, jumping up and down with glee as men got torn to shreds in wire and rolling about when things went crazy at the end Adam has a lot of fire in his belly for someone who just got shot.
And the villain also garnered laughs. He dressed like a goth (dig that robe and those gloves), moaned like a goth and hated the world like a goth. In fact, he probably was one. Wah-wah, I have cancer. Wah-wah, people don't appreciate their lives. Wah-wah, woe is me. I know most serial killers in films have BS reasons to justify their rampages, but this man made a fine art of it. And he sure was nimble for a cancer patient
and could keep still for long periods of time
and was remarkably indestructible. Ah, but why apply logic to a film this silly? Just open your arms and let the shower of crap wash over you.
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