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Two strangers mysteriously wake up to find themselves in a derelict basement. Together, they find out how to escape, and if they are really strangers...
ocelot-059 November 2005
I have utmost respect for Wan. To my knowledge, he and his buddies were right out of film school. Instead of slowly building status by making mediocre films, he showed the world right from the get-go that he had something to prove.

Along with Silence Of The Lambs, Saw is the only horror movie that truly chills me. You see, I am not easily frightened by gratuitous bloodshed and screams that you might see in films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The plot has to be coherent, and there can't be anything ridiculous like a monster. Saw evokes strong emotions of terror and fear, all the while remaining plausible. Well, the story is actually unlikely, but everything in the film is physically possible.

The scenes that are meant to be frightening don't require things that jump out at you every two seconds, or cheesy orchestral flailings. The situation is what frightens you, not the presentation. Saw does have some second-rate acting, but then again it is a low-budget film and I suppose they couldn't exactly afford Robert De Niro. The script is not fantastic, but one true redeeming quality of the whole film is the story. It is dense, complex, but so captivating. I can only think of a few mystery plot lines that can even compare to this one. The Usual Suspects is probably up there, but Saw stands alone.

I strongly recommend this film who appreciate good stories, and aren't easily scared by the garbage you see in theaters like House Of Wax. For people who get squeamish, steer clear of this film. It is very nice graphic, and very sadistic at times. A brilliant debut, and a terrifying ride. 9/10.
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The best thriller in years
Superunknovvn6 March 2005
Since "Nattevagten" I have not seen a thriller that has kept me on the edge of my seat as well as "Saw". Right from the beginning this original story sucks you in and doesn't let you go until the very end. Thrillers as gripping as this one have become extremely rare in times like these, where people have seen almost everything and can guess any twist during the first half of the movie. With "Saw" James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the creative heads behind this project, set new standards. Think you're hard-boiled? Think again and watch "Saw", a movie that will creep you out and surprise you beyond your expectations.

"Saw" has been advertised as the new "Se7en" and while both movies are definitely in the same tradition, "Saw" does a much better job at actually being creepy. Jigsaw is the most gruesome killer the cinema has seen in a loooong time. Wan and Whannel really came up with a monster that has no peer. Where many movies drift into ridiculousness trying to establish the villain as an almost superhuman evil being, "Saw" does never get anywhere near that trap. Sure, the cops are depicted way too stupid and the killer is unrealistically smart, outshining each and every opponent with his perfect plans, but hey, "Se7en" and "Silence Of The Lambs" didn't care too much about realism, either, did they?

"Saw" does have some flaws. Those sped-up tracking shots have just been used too many times by now, the structure of the script is weird and jumps from one period of time to another, some characters' lines are a bit clichéd. However, considering that this movie was made in only 18 days by two independent filmmakers with literally no budget at all, it's really inappropriate to be petty about technical subtleties, when Wan and Whannel came up with such an original and stirring movie.

I can't remember the last time I've been surprised by a movie's final twist, but "Saw" has an ending that I didn't see coming at all. This thriller is the most original piece of independent film-making since "Cube". I'm really looking forward to seeing how Wan and Whannell's career develops after this fine sleeper.
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Just See SAW!
wamweri6 December 2004
Wow. The critics weren't wrong. Not since seven has horror been portrayed so majestically.

From the first minute to last this film twists and turns you till you feel rather poorly. Just like 'Se7en', the all-round Grittiness that director James Wan creates disgusts and enthralls. Just like 'Se7en', there is a H U G E twist that makes your blood curdle.

A lack of star names helps the movie flow as the pace builds to a finale that won't be forgotten by this viewer in a hurry!

I still can't sleep.

It is well scripted, well acted, and, for everyone who guesses the killer after the first few minutes, keeps you guessing right up to the final reel. It is better than Seven for shock value. It is not over the top gory but there is a final scene which makes you sweat.

Very highly recommended!
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The game begins
MaxBorg893 November 2008
Not since Se7en's John Doe has there been a serial killer with such a bizarre philosophy behind his actions (not that Jigsaw actually kills anyone; more on that later). Sure, in light of the increasingly deteriorating sequels it's hard to think of Saw as little more than a franchise- starter (something the writer and director never planned), but viewed on its own, astonishing merits, it's a good, nasty thriller, filled with solid scares and (especially compared to the follow-ups) quite well written.

According to the film's notorious back-story, it took only 28 days to shoot it. Not that strange, given most of the action takes place in just two locations: one is a bathroom where Adam (Leigh Whannell) and Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) fins themselves with their feet chained to the wall, with no recollection whatsoever of how the hell they got there; the other is the lair of the mysterious Jigsaw, a serial killer whom Detectives Sing (Ken Leung) and Trapp (Danny Glover) have been tracking down for weeks.

The two facts are linked in a most ingenious way: Jigsaw doesn't really kill anyone, but "plays a game" with his victims. In the case of Adam and Dr. Gordon, as the tape recorder found in a dead man's hand tells them, each of them has two hours to free himself and kill the other, or they will both die. Problem is, the only way to get rid of the chains is to saw your foot off. And so, while the two unfortunate cell-mates have to choose who gets to live (that's Jigsaw's perverse logic: he offers you a choice), the police close in on the elusive psycho, whose previous deeds and MO are shown in flashbacks.

Whereas the subsequent Saw films use the messy chronology just for the hell of it (though they do get away with some neat narrative tweaks thanks to it), the first installment takes advantage of its non-linear storytelling to increase the suspense and provide some valuable clues to how everything fits together. It is to James Wan and co-writer Whannell's eternal credit that they, like Se7en writer Andrew Kevin Walker, went beyond slasher clichés and came up with something more. Okay, so Saw's philosophical undertones aren't entirely original, but what the heck, they do manage to keep the audience interested in what's going on. In addition, adding a little more depth to the killer ensures that the movie's more gruesome parts (and there are a lot of them) don't come off as gratuitous bloodletting (for an example of the latter, look no further than the countless sequels to A Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday 13th).

Furthermore, the intelligence behind the film's structure might also have had a positive effect on the performances, given the acting is more convincing here than in most post-2000 shockers: Elwes and Whannell's desperation is conveyed with an intensity that's almost too painful to behold, Glover plays the aging cop role resisting the temptation to do a Lethal Weapon in-joke (you know, the "too old for this sh*t" gag) and when Jigsaw himself appears... well, it's the horror equivalent of Keyser Soze - chilling and impossible to forget (and, for once, not played by Kevin Spacey). Just like the movie.
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The Most Clever Horror Movie Ever!
KornFrog1 August 2007
Not only does this movie create an extremely tense atmosphere the moment it starts, it has plenty of gore and violence to bombard your eyes, not to mention that it has one of the best twists seen in any horror movie.

I watched this film alone at night with the lights off, expecting to be freaked out by it since I thought it was just another typical horror movie; but instead I was completely intrigued by the story line, and utterly drawn into the film for the whole 100 minutes. At the end I did not feel scared, rather, I felt something very few horror movies have to offer: satisfaction! This movie left me in a slightly disturbed but very thoughtful state. It did not give me nightmares, rather, it plagued my day-dreams; for two days my thoughts could not stray far from this film, that's how powerful it is.

If you want a cringingly gory and violent horror movie, watch "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" or "Hostel"; if you want a nightmarishly scary horror movie, watch "The Grudge" or "The Ring"; if you want a clever and disturbing horror movie with an excellent story and a great twist, watch "Saw".
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Well made horror/thriller, two thumbs up
lizabeth66610 December 2004
When two men, wake up and find themselves chained to a bathroom pipe, with a dead body lying in between them, they soon realize that they are prisoners, in the secure lair of a serial killer, nicknamed 'Jigsaw'.

This film was, in my opinion, exciting, thrilling, and an overall entertaining film to watch. It delivered the necessary chills, to keep its audiences fully awake, and engaged. This was an enormous achievement for Aussie newcomers – James Wan, and Leigh Wannell. The two have created a well-deserved horror/thriller, without the necessary clichés.The film is not too scary that it becomes unwatchable, so the full potential of its enormity will not be missed. definitely two thumbs uo for me.
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I loved it
dhruvdude10 February 2005
Movies like Saw are the ones that makes us believe in the horror genre. It is because of such movies we like to see horror/thriller movies. Let me tell you that after watching Saw I wanted to buy the ticket and watch it again because after a long time I got to see a real gripping and tightly directed horror movie. The movie is very exciting and has a lot of goosebumps. However, if you are a faint of heart please do not see this movie as it has a lot of gore/violence in it which will make you jump out of your seat. I just can't wait for the DVD to come out as I really want to buy it. My recommendation to all of you is to watch Saw and have a good time like I did. Also, the movie has a great twist. 10/10
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I +Saw+ it last night
dee.reid11 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"Saw," a film that was originally planned for a straight-to-video release but after receiving positive nods at test screenings, was finally given the green light in October 2004 - just in time for Halloween. "Saw" contains one of the those plots that shows you everything it's got up its sleeve, then doubles-back on itself three-fourths of the way through and reveals something entirely new.

It's not hard to see why this almost hit the straight-to-video fodder list. I mean, people will closely observe that it obviously contains the traits of its successors, namely "Seven" (1995), and that may be all the ammunition the haters will need to trash it. Already, I see that the IMDb voters have averaged "Saw" a 7.5, with those people who have rated it with an "8" or a "10" being neck-and-neck at the polls.

But I begin with reassurances that "Saw" is a genius thriller, if not entirely original or daring. The film does its best to exploit the claustrophobia and mounting tension that collects as it progresses. "Saw" will also make you think twice about bladed objects as well.

Ironically, the title has very little to do with plot, as there is no chainsaw-wielding maniac on the loose as the ghastly cover art of a severed foot would imply. The only saws here are the ones the two main characters Lawrence (Cary Elwes) and Adam (Leigh Whannell, also the film' screenwriter) have been given.

The two men awaken to find themselves chained to lead pipes in a decrepit public bathroom. In the middle of the floor, is a dead body that's surrounded in a pool of its own blood, with a gun in one hand and a tape recorder in the other. As it would turn out, they're the latest victims of a serial killer known as the "Jigsaw Killer."

Jigsaw has a nasty little way of torturing his victims by trapping them in a situation where they have to kill if they want to survive. As Lawrence explains, technically Jigsaw is not a killer, simply because he hasn't killed anyone; the victims do that for him. As one fortunate victim observes, who survived her ordeal, she is bound to a chair with a reversed bear trap-like device strapped to her head with pliers wired into her upper and lower jaws. A timer is on the device and if she does not locate a key before it runs out, her mouth will be ripped open and no more pretty face. In order to get out, she must open up the stomach of a dead man lying on the floor next her to get the key.

As Jigsaw ever so carefully points out to his victims, he doesn't just choose them at random. To him, they're all perfectly immoral individuals and he uses their immorality to set up horrific situations where the victim rarely survives the trap; in essence, life is its own reward because Jigsaw's victims don't value it, as he explains to the one young woman lucky enough to fight through his plan. Also on the case of Jigsaw, are two detectives Tapp (Danny Glover) and Sing (Ken Leung), who bring forth the news of Jigsaw's previous victims in one particularly gruesome flashback sequence.

Lawrence is pretty well aware of the case of Jigsaw, as even once he was considered a suspect by the police. As you would have it, Adam is not especially trustful of Lawrence being that he seems to know a lot and is not reporting many details to him. They realize, however, that if they are going to survive this nightmare, they're going to have to play into Jigsaw's game, observe the clues he's willing to give them, and ultimately make it out alive.

"Saw" was directed admirably by James Wan and written by Whannell, who also makes an effective victim alongside Elwes. Elwes, a highly underrated actor, is given a chance to shine here, even though this really isn't an actor's movie, as it is more in the hands of the director. However, we do get a sense of the desperation of the two leads, who soon realize that they're not the only ones trapped in this madman's game.

"Saw" does benefit from its moody atmosphere, which may cover up any of the film's shortcomings. Towards the end, it does lose pace a little bit as things seem to be spiraling down the haunted house route, but quickly regains momentum as it draws to a close. I know that despite its flaws, I was glued to the seat and really "in" the film's tight tension, which thankfully doesn't let up.

Is "Saw" a genre classic? Certainly. Is it a classic like "Seven"? I don't know. There's a lot to consider when pondering a question with so much baggage like that one. I liked it, but I'm not so sure about the news that a sequel is in the works. This seems a lot like a stand-alone-type movie, that of which doesn't need to get bogged down by the weight of unnecessary sequels.

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Sicko movie, Go!
jade_fine31 January 2005
A sicko movie whose nastiness is almost topped by its obviously any true horror fan worth their salt needs to seek it out! The story is about a surgeon and a photographer who wake up and to find themselves shackled at opposite ends of a nasty-looking toilet. Don't want to say too much but plenty of ugliness ensues. This movie has the perfect mix of scares and a really bizarre plot. The movie's got a decent budget for an indie horror (a little over a million, i think) but it's pretty small for a film that got such a big release. I hear it made a "killing" at the box office, so TAKE NOTICE Hollywood! People want to see this stuff. Go!
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One of the Most Unique and Grisly Thrillers In Recent Memory.
drownnnsoda11 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
"Saw" is one of the better horror films in recent memory. I suppose it's more of a thriller than horror, although it still is gory and serves well on a horrific level. It's sort of a cross between "Se7en" and "The Silence of the Lambs" I'd say, and the film is pretty damn good.

"Saw" opens with two men who wake up in a dilapidated public restroom with no memory of how or why they are where they are. Chained to the floor, they are both utterly confused and terrified. Together, they begin to piece together the memory of what happened to them as the serial killer, nicknamed Jigsaw threatens them and plays numerous mind games that lead up to their demise. Meanwhile, detectives and officials are on the trail of the brutal serial murderer, trying to save the men the entire time.

This is definitely a smart thriller and it will have you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning to the bloody, limb-severing conclusion. The characters are extremely believable and the acting was great, including performances by Carey Elwes, Monica Potter, and Danny Glover. Everyone performed perfectly and were very believable to watch. The entire movie has a dark, damp setting, and is overloaded with intense scenes and lots of gore, that are sure to please any horror fan. On top of that, the cleverly-woven story is unique and underived. James Wan does an excellent job, especially considering this to be his first feature film. I can't wait to see some his future stuff.

Bottom line - "Saw" is a smart, grisly, unforgiving, all-around brutal horror movie that is unique and original. If you are looking for a horror movie a notch above your average slasher flick, I advise you see "Saw". 9/10.
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Nennapuppy14 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Finally a horror/thriller movie that has a plot and scary bits! Most go for the scare and have no plot, so when they aren't scary they suck! This one is good from either plot side or scare side. This movie is tops!! I've often thought about the awful things that killers could do to people, but usually just shot/stab them - this movie does some of those things! It really made me cringe in some parts and I could really "feel" how terrified the characters probably were cause of the great acting.

I just didn't see that ending coming, that just topped it all off. At one point i figured it was just going to end in the same old "big fight with lots of blood" scene but, WOW! that ending was the icing on the cake! I'm spun out but the whole thing - definitely a DVD buy for me. 4/5
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HalbNah23 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
So I just watched this movie (I won't even make the effort to use the obvious pun here), and I am scared. Scared of bad acting, bad editing, poor plot. Two guys wake up in a shitty bathroom, tied to opposite corners by chains, nothing on them but their clothes and some tools they might need to survive, but haven't figured out how to use yet. In the beginning, I instantly thought of a CUBE-like setup, and was really looking forward to seeing it. But, as the story evolved more and more, I realised there was not much to it. A big chunk of this movie is told in flashbacks, to somehow "justify" why the two guys ended up there, how they are connected, and why the killer is acting the way he is (although, in the long run, I still can't quite explain why you have to kill people to show them how cool life is. Or why it makes you that insane and brilliant at the same time so that you have nothing better to do than set up strange traps that make people kill themselves, or why you start to enjoy watching your masterpiece of psychological torture-cabinet lying on the bathroom floor with your eyes closed, pretending to be dead. Ah, right, for the *surprise* ending. I forgot.) Everything is thought-out halfway, but that's where it ends. I mean, the story has potential, it could've made a really great movie, but they just ruined it to give them a platform to show off. "Huh, yeah, see what I can do. I can use speed-up pictures and ultra-shaky camera. I bet you never saw this before, right?" Right, right. Never. So, the standard tools to make a movie look young and fresh, again. What else do we need for a nice horror/slasher movie? Right, cliché! Lots of it. And the main thing that really makes me mad is this "Stupid Victim" Syndrome. "Hmmm. This guy just wanted to kill me, but now I have the gun...what should I do? Yeah, talk to my husband on the phone instead of shooting him (at least in the legs)." Seriously, this scares the hell out of me. Can't ANYBODY please write a script that has "normal-acting" victims in it? Like, shooting the guy? Sorry, but this was a quite boring movie with bad acting and a poor script (though the idea was great). Yeah, poor. That sums it up quite well.
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The first, the best!
shadowdreadblade2 February 2011
Okay, i have seen a lot of horror films. Saw was another one that i liked much. Saw 2,3,4...and so on were movies i disliked. The splatter was increasing for no apparent reason, the atmosphere and the whole set up and the feeling, that made the first a success, were all missing from the rest.

So here we are. I review the first one that is the best in my opinion. I liked it. A friend of mine, a co-student at College, told me to watch the movie together. She couldn't remember how many times she had seen it. It was her favorite so she wanted to share it with me.

I liked the flow of the movie. And then the movie ended. And i found my jaw fallen on the floor. Incredible movie. No i wont spoil you anything!!! Go and watch it!

Warning though, it has extreme violence. I was about to eat something, while i was watching Saw. I reconsidered. I paused... i ate... then i watched the film.
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Implausible, irritating and full of plot holes
Charlotte_Kaye9 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The current rating for this horror film indicates it is one of the greatest of all time. Give me a break! It's not even close. Unless you are VERY forgiving of glaring plot holes, bad acting, annoying dialogue, "trendy" rapid fire MTV-style editing, lame "edgy" industrial music soundtracks and a pathetic "moral" justification for murder delivered by a psycho obviously copied from Kevin Spacey's Se7en character, then you might be amongst the people who think this is something special. But if you're like me and take a more analytical approach to these thrillers, this thing simply falls apart at the seams and leads up to a surprise twist so implausible and unbelievable it must be seen to be believed. Not only this, but the film refuses to stay in one place for long. It jumps from the main story (leads Cary Elwes and Leigh Whannell chained up in a bathroom and trying to figure a way to escape) about five times too many to maintain the suspense. We get to see bits and pieces of the police investigation and the killer terrorizing the wife and daughter of Elwes' doctor character. Said wife acts like a complete and utter moron even after the killer sticks a gun in her daughters face.

It's not a great movie. It's not even a good movie. It's just a pedestrian thriller all jazzed up with tricky editing, jump cuts, some gore and loud music to appeal to the teenagers and intellectually stunted adults in the audience. Anyone with a brain, however, will find it hard to swallow and not worth the effort at all.
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jlnuvi22 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The main problems of 'Saw' are related to the tremendous script mistakes that only a uncritical spectator will just obviate. The main question is what's is the purpose of the killer in his lying in the middle of the floor? The film tries to show that the killer's aim is to cause evil and destruction in his victims, he loves to play with the lives of other people and to feel control over their the fears and debilities. So why does he just pretend to be dead between the two main characters? A tremendous unlikelihood: can a man pretend to be dead for more than one or two hours without moving a single muscle or even without breathing in order not to be discovered by two men who are in the same room? It has not sense at all except to be the final (d)effect of the movie. The killer seems to have always the control along the plot and if it's lying like a dead body this can't be possible. Finally, it doesn't work. The right place for the killer should have been a darker and untouchable shadow behind the false shadow (the male nurse) but not the floor of the white room. The director shouldn't have showed the killer's face and maybe the site where he is hidden. Then, the film would be a quite good thriller. However, 'Saw' is just a fiasco. Hitchcock, please, come back.
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Are you quite Saw?
BobforTrish21 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Whenever I write a review my conscience tells me to think of all the talented people who put so much time and effort into their project. "Be fair" I hear it say. On the other hand, thinking of the readers of these reviews, there are times when a dose of brutal honesty is the only option.

Director James Wan and actor Leigh Wannell co-wrote Saw, therefore they have to accept the burden of culpability for what I can only describe as one of the worst films I have ever seen. This is quite remarkable considering that the opening denouement promises so much as we find Mr Wannell waking up to a living nightmare. He and fellow actor Cary Elwes find themselves chained by the ankles on either side of what can only be described as the bathroom from Hell with what is presumably a dead body between them. The only clean object is a clock on the wall. Ticking. We look forward to a psychological drama...

...what we get instead is a convoluted story centred on a character known as Jigsaw, a sadistic evildoer who gives his victims the chance of life if they are willing to sacrifice others. This is explained to us via flashbacks... lots of flashbacks. This gives us the opportunity to see Ken Leung as Detective Sing and his partner Danny Glover as Detective Tapp in a double act straight from the Lethal Weapon school of acting - which is actually remarkably good compared with our two leads trapped in the bathroom who are gradually running through every emotional gamut in an effort to convince us of... What? Well, this is where the problem lies. We have spent one fifth of the running time trying to establish characters, plot, development, direction. We have nothing. Mr Elwes, playing the part of a surgeon and Mr Wannell as a down-at-heel photographer have both tried tension-breaking comedic, breaking-down emotional and shouty. We shall leave them for a while as they bond, fall out, solve clues, fail miserably to escape before their deadline etc. Meanwhile we can continue with the flashbacks and find out just how easy it is for our two inept detectives to bond, solve clues and go after the homicidal maniac all on their own...

Oh by the way, did I mention Zep, the rather sinister hospital orderly, or John, Dr. Gordon's patient with an inoperable frontal lobe tumour. How about the good doctor's wife Alison and daughter Diana? Well they all pop up in the inevitable flashbacks. Eventually everybody, doctor,wife, daughter, policeman who is still alive, photographer, patient, extremely patient reviewer get together in a Grand Guignol finish... Oh sorry - you want me to save one-hundred minutes of your life? Here goes. Doctor has to kill photographer by six o'clock in order to save his wife and daughter who are being held by orderly who has been poisoned by maniac who will only give him antidote if he kills doctor's wife and daughter. Detective, who went insane after maniac killed his partner, is paying photographer to follow doctor who he thinks is maniac. Orderly fails to follow through due to not tying doctor's wife properly, detective arrives, fights orderly, speeded-up car chase a la Keystone Kops - no idea why. Both end up in the sewers, detective dies. Doctor loses concentration, realises it is now gone six. saws through his own ankle, shoots photographer but fails to kill him. Drags himself out of bathroom. Reviewer loses concentration. What we thought was a dead body in the bathroom turns out to be patient John aka Jigsaw who gets up and kindly tells photographer that key to padlock is in bath - same bath that photographer emptied of water at beginning of film thus leaving him trapped there. John/Jigsaw leaves.

To sum up: a film with sadistic overtones, poor acting, what we can only presume to be an unfinished script, ludicrous plot and loose ends inevitably leading to sequels which, fortunately for all of us I shall not be either viewing or reviewing.

Whilst IMDb offer no clues as to the ages of reviewers I feel fairly confident in declaring that most of the people who give this film a vote of seven or more would be below thirty. It would be interesting to see what would happen if they all came back in twenty years and revised their votes...
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Takashi Miike and Giallo Films Channeled by way of David Fincher
nycritic7 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Once the extremely improbable ending comes any viewer will feel sucker-punched in what I believe resembles any David Fincher film, most notably SE7EN, with a Takashi Miike spin. Which doesn't detract that for the most part it's claustrophobic, depressing, bleak, and filled with a growing sense of stomach-turning dread as the omnipresence of an unseen killer comes through, making us known anyone could be killed at any given moment, if his plans are not carried out to his satisfaction. Plans that largely include doing something unspeakable to solve a puzzle and thus, be set free.

The problem with SAW its in the script itself, with plot holes galore, and character motivations/reactions completely unclear. The two main characters undergo the suffering victims are meant to and do so down to the end, but the supporting characters fair poorly. Danny Glover's character goes through being a broken man through the death of his partner to being badly obsessed with the Jigsaw Killer, and not once could I believe he would do most of the things he does throughout the film, like not requesting backup as he enters a deserted warehouse (in a flashback sequence), or allowing a clearly wimpy killer to get the best of him later on. Monica Potter plays Cary Elwes' wife who witnesses the killer point a gun to her daughter's temple while listening to her frantic heartbeats, but when she gets the chance to give him his just desserts she fails to do so because she was on the phone with her imprisoned husband. (It was a "Huh?" moment where motherhood somehow didn't enter into the plot logic, but then again, not many did.)

Another thing which works against it is the fact that that for a genuinely interesting and even innovative premise like this one, SAW would be best as a film 20 - 30 minutes shorter with an equally shorter time span (the plot extends for an approximate five hours from start to climax), and then would the shocking twist at the end make some sense. As it is, it has the look and feel of a video game in which the menacing growl of a voice orders the victims through audio/videotape to commit a horrible and nearly impossible act in order to survive, with some rapid-fire MTV editing to add to the viewer's disorientation and Giallo overtones (which do work here if you think of Dario Argento's PROFONDO ROSSO or Mario Bava's BLOOD AND BLACK LACE). Here's hoping James Wan will make a much better film as he does have an overall good technique with his visuals.
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trying to unsee what i Saw (haw haw)
malaclyptic18 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
There are some actors who are terrific no matter who's directing them. (Paul Bettany, Denzel Washington) There are others who are irredeemably awful in absolutely anything (Ryan O'Neal comes to mind). And then there are guys like Cary Elwes. He was dynamite in The Princess Bride, every bit as swashbuckling and fun to watch as Errol Flynn. He shines in ensemble pieces; equally convincing as the desperately manipulative Thomas H. Ince in Peter Bogdanovich's pathetically under-seen The Cat's Meow and as a fat, balding, prissy theater producer in Cradle Will Rock. Of course, it helps that all these are good movies, which the generic horror flick Saw is not.

Not that it doesn't try. It's got that grinding, industrial-metal soundtrack, to get us all edgy when the film itself cannot. It's got those hyper-motion quickcuts, the same kind used in the remake of Thirteen Ghosts, which at least knew how lame it was, and was thus easier to take, with tongue firmly in cheek. Perhaps using the gore factor (which there isn't much of; Shaun of the Dead was gorier than this) to patch up some gaping, 747-size holes in the plot, Saw cheerfully telegraphs the shock moments, using some halfway-clever plot twists that almost make sense at the time but on second thought—what a mess.

Anyway, here's the set-up: A kid named Adam (Leigh Whannell, who wrote the script) wakes up in a nasty old bathroom chained to a huge pipe in the wall. Opposite him is Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Elwes), similarly chained and even more confused. Between them lay a dead man, his head apparently half-blown away, holding a gun in one hand and a tape recorder in the other. It's all revealed to be the work of the "Jigsaw Killer," who devises unique life-or-death scenarios for unsuspecting, flawed folk to work their way out of or die. (Set this in a giant, three-dimensional Rubik's Cube, and you have the much more intriguing Cube; set it in another unnamed city with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman hunting a deranged Bible-nut, you get Se7en—Whannell has obviously seen and studied them both).

So Adam and Dr. Gordon are trapped together, for reasons that are calmly explained away in a series of flashbacks. The goal: Gordon must kill Adam with whatever implements are at hand or else his wife and daughter will buy the farm. And yes, in a toilet stall they find a couple of hacksaws.

Nothing is what it seems, of course, and I have to report that I saw the final denouement coming from the first twenty minutes. The enigmatic "Jigsaw Killer" is a lot like the alien race out to destroy humanity in Independence Day: faceless and just plain bad, bad, bad! Kevin Spacey's genuinely chilling John Doe from Se7en may have been a fairly one-note character, but at least we were given reasons for his psychosis—and what's more, we believed them. Saw's killer is given a perfunctory motivation, but it all rings as off-key as the acting.

First-time director James Wan wastes Danny Glover as a cop obsessed with the case, and his demise is a complete let-down. He delivers some nice, gruesome moments, but since I saw (pun not really intended) them coming, they're not much more than Pavlovian audience buzzers. Judging by the general crowd reaction, Saw will get plenty of word of mouth help from the high school set, make a nice, tidy little profit, and since a sequel has already been announced, old Jigsaw will likely be around torturing people for no apparent reason for some time.
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what happens if Zep never made it to the trapped Adam?
telle26-123 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
There were so many things wrong with this movie i have trouble keeping them all straight. But one thing that really bothers me is that if Jigsaw was the one laying on the ground in the bathroom, what happens if Zep never shows up? What if Zep was killed by Danny Gloover before he made it to the bathroom? Does Jigsaw simply just get up and walk out? Could the guy in the middle of the bathroom not be jigsaw, but another part of Jigsaw's game? What if Zep killed the wife and kid, how does Jigsaw get him the antidote for the poison if he's lying in the middle of the bathroom? Why does the doctor wait till the last minute to finally cut off his foot? It was too late, it was after six and as far as he knew his wife and child were already shot dead, it wasn't the best time for heroics. These are just a few questions i had about the film, but i may be missing something or everything as i have only seen the movie once. Please Help!
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The last piece of the jigsaw - CRAP
eeong19 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is a poor attempt of an "intellectual" horror movie. I was shocked to later learn that the movie had received box office acclaim and a 7.5 rating in IMDb. Don't know which ones worst the plot or the intelligence of most people who thought this movie was great. It looked as though the writer was up late one night watching an episode of Survivor(while flipping channels to MTV where Nine Inch Nails were playing) and subconsciously thought to himself "What if the challenges were sadistic, I could turn it in to a horror movie". Clearly didn't pay attention to the storyline as it was littered with loose plots. Completely pretentious and a time waster.
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Silly beyond belief (spoilers throughout)
Ricky_Roma__15 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
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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tat2guy23 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I have to give this movie a 4 because of a couple of things.

1. What I'll call the "stupid victim syndrome". If you have the killer on the floor and you have his gun - shoot him please. If you are a cop and you have your shotgun pointed at the killer's back - shoot him please.

2. When you are in a high stress situation and you have your finger on the trigger of a gun - your first instinct is to squeeze. This is one of the first things they teach you in handgun training and the reason that you don't put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire - ask any hunter or infantryman. If you are electrocuted, your muscles should also contract - making you squeeze your finger.

3. It's really hard to lay on the floor completely still for 8 hours without 2 other people - one of them a doctor - not noticing that you aren't dead. Even more so if you are supposedly dying of a brain tumor and were in the hospital just a few months earlier.

4. Technically, the killer did kill one of his victims - the guy he injected with poison that had to get the antidote. If you poison someone, that is murder.

5. What was Adam's lesson that he was supposed to learn? Yes, the doctor needed to be there, but what was Adam's crime? Maybe I just missed something.

Other than those things, I would have given this movie a higher grade. The plot was pretty good, and the ways the killer chose to kill his victims were very inventive. I can even forgive the terrible acting on the doctor's part - the scenes with his family were enough to make me sick. The cinematography and soundtrack were very good, but the ending seemed contrived and just didn't work for me. Thank goodness I didn't have to pay to see this or I would have demanded a refund.
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A non realistic movie
therealpaulie5 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This was the most unrealistic movie I ever seen.

I can't believe that the writer and director didn't see that almost all the movie looks like a SF one.

For example:

1. It is impossible for the killer to stay on cold glaze and after 10 hours to get up so quickly.

2. You can't get electrocuted trough a water pipe like in the movie.(believe me, it's my domain)

3. With a saw you can cut 10 pipes in 10 hour very easy. Let's say that the chain was made from steel but the water pipe was rusty and it was made from iron.

4. If you try to cut your foot with a saw you faint (in the best case, it's more likely to die because your hart fails) before to get to the bone(shin).

And there are more other examples.
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Scary movie??
belle547519 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Unfortunately, the lowest I can go on the rating scale is a 1. Never have I seen a movie with such a GREAT premise and promising directing lose so much because of the acting. Carey Elwes was extremely disappointing for such a seasoned actor. I mean this was suppose to be a scary movie and I couldn't help but laugh at the over dramatized way Elwes told Wannell he would send help to get him. Wannell's work wasn't nearly as bad and he's a newcomer.

Overall, this could have been a great movie given some better actors, major script adjustment and WAY more than 18 days to shoot.

I mean give me a break!!! You've got two guys chained at the ankle on either side of what appears to be a bathroom and a (supposedly) dead guy in the middle of the floor and you're telling me that neither of them, one being a doctor, notice that he's breathing?!?!?!? What did he do, hold his breath for 8 hours?!?!?!?

Comparing this movie to Se7en and Silence of the Lambs is just plain ridiculous.

Sam Raimi did a better job with The Evil Dead his first time around.

The only thing scary about this movie was the acting.
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This one belongs to the Razzies
asilenceapart27 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
(This review does not necessarily expose the plot of the movie, however it may change one's expectations of the movie and thus make for a less enjoyable experience.)

Ever rented a scary movie, expecting to be on the edge of your seat in fear, and instead ended up howling in laughter at each and every stupid turn of the plot? This movie had so many opportunities to impress and actually scare the viewer. It was cut poorly and jumped around too much; making references to the past seem more like excuses as to why the plot was heading in its particular direction. The writers must not have thought about how the potentially excellent plot should have been carried out, because the poor construction of time throughout the plot is discouraging to the viewer and makes the movie increasingly tiring to watch.

Almost worse than the writers having abused what could have been an excellent and classic thriller was the fact that it gradually relied on cheap tactics for a scare. The acting didn't make it scary, and the situations hardly made it scary, therefore it needed a few dark scenes with things jumping out at you to make it worthwhile. Even those were predictable.

Not even the gore could've saved the plot, and it rivals the gore of the successful thriller Se7en.

Speaking of Se7en, I feel like Saw tried to follow Se7en's incredibly fascinating psychological theme, but failed miserably in doing so. I was terribly disappointed in the lack of analysis and plot structure surrounding the psychology of the killer. The beginning scenes tease the viewer into thinking that this is a psychological thriller; believe me, it is far from that.

Oh, did I mention poor acting? At first, Cary Elwes seems makes a convincing performance; however, this completely deteriorates at the most crucial parts of the plot. I was left in tears of laughter at this performance, which is worthy of a Razzie. The performance of Leigh Whannell is also terrible and too played-out, although not as bad as the performance by Elwes, and the big red flag with this is that Whannell is also a writer for the movie.

The end of Saw could never make up for having lost the entire middle of it, and that is what makes it a huge failure. It was an opportunity wasted, and I have no clue as to why Monica Potter and Danny Glover chose to take roles in this movie.

I am mad at myself for wasting money on just renting it. It was definitely not worth the $4, and in the future I will definitely avoid seeing anything having to do with Elwes, Whannell or James Wan. The big tragedy in this is not that it lacked basis to its plot, it's that the great potential storyline was thrown away and poor acting added insult to injury. I'll avoid the poor puns involving the title and just conclude with this: don't watch this movie.
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