02 April 2008

Cherish Your Life: Saw (2004) Review

A grizzly tale, but not a gory one in the horror-porn torture porn gorno tradition of Hostel. Saw is strictly driven by suspense and intricate plot. Highly entertaining and with more twists in the plot than in a koeksister. A beacon of original light shining through the darkness of politically correct angsty teen creature features.

One of Tannie Marie's koeksisters. Tannie Marie ships koeksisters all over America, bringing a touch of Boere culture to the new world.

Two men find themselves in a locked bathroom, while on videotape. No, it's not George Michael and a member of the Village People. It is Dr Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) and photographer Adam Faulkner (Leigh Whannell). They find a corpse between them, which holds a tape recorder and a gun. Talk about a silver lining. They each find a cassette in their pockets, with their names on it. The cassettes instruct Dr Gordon to kill Adam within a given time frame.

Of course doctors usually save lives, with the notable exception of the South African minister of health, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who rather saves witch doctors and their superstitions. Dr Gordon is persuaded to join the dark side of Dr Tshabalala-Msimang and Dr Hannibal Lecter when he finds out that his family is kept hostage by an evil man.


  • For some reason, Saw is grouped with Hostel and Devil's Rejects in the torture porn or gorno (gore + porno) genre. This genre is described as being devoid of suitable metaphor for its explicit scenes of nudity and violence. Personally, I found Saw to have many suitable metaphors and the version I have on DVD is bloody but not gory. Not that I mind blood and guts for the sake of blood and guts, but just to prove the point, Saw features no nudity that I can recall.

  • Since it is claimed that the Jigsaw Killer never actually kills anyone himself, the film is highly original. The exception is photographer Adam Faulkner, but I won't give away anything.

  • Saw has an excellent plot. I pride myself in identifying the killers in this sort of film early on. Of course, I was right, but only half right. I love being outsmarted.

  • The Jigsaw Killer, so named because he leaves the imprint of a jigsaw puzzle piece on his victims, is hailed as the new Freddy Krueger. This antagonist of the Saw series is a person with a terminal illness who wishes to teach his victims the value of their lives by placing them in virtually inescapable situations. They could learn the same valuable lesson by waiting in line at customs instead. The irony here is the victims have a choice between their lives or the lives of others, whereas the Jigsaw Killer has no choice.

  • This film attempts to answer the question of what one would do when one is faced with the options of acting civil for the greater good, or acting in your own best interest at the peril of strangers in a life or death situation. For this reason, the Wikipedia article on the Jigsaw Killer identifies certain Darwinian, Nietzschean and Deleuzian traits in the methods of the Jigsaw Killer.

  • In contrast with other excellent serial killer films like Manhunter, the focus here is on the psychological ordeal of the victims instead of on the complications of the personality of the killer. This is not a case of finding a new mask and a new weapon for a generic mass murderer and ticking his victims off one by one. The character of the Jigsaw Killer is carefully crafted, but the viewer is not forced to be a fanboy with trading cards. Excellent film!

James Wan




Revival Ink said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I also like your blog, and your review of SAW, which happens to be one of my favorite movies ever! We should compare notes sometime, Horror movies are my favorite. Catch ya 'round.

Ria said...

Now see, I like the first Saw also, which is interesting because its the only one out of the the four I haven't reviewed on my blog yet. The sequels were horrible and predictable, but that's usually how sequels are, with the exception of a few.

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