Halloween Movies: Saw

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I’ve always heard about Saw being brutal, gruesome and just overall about torture. I avoided the movies for a long time, but recently stumbled across it on Netflix. I decided to give it a shot, knowing I could stop the movie at any point and not lose money from a rental. I was actually pleasantly surprised. All my preconceived notions about it were wrong and I found myself genuinely enjoying the movie. That being said, it’s not the best movie out there, but it certainly is worth giving a watch if you like the Horror Genre if simply for the ending. Truthfully, the only reason I gave this movie a real shot was after seeing CinemaSins do a video on it.

About: By now, most people know about Saw. Jigsaw, a serial killer, takes unsuspecting victims, locks them into a room and gives them puzzles to solve in order to survive. There is always a twist where failure will cause the victim to suffer before death such as having to crawl through barbed wire or the ever-famous Saw head gear that will crush your skull if you don’t get the key in time. All of this is in an attempt to get his victims, the ones that do survive, to appreciate life more. Yes, that’s the main reasoning behind the mad man. While critics have given the movie a low 48% on Rotten Tomatoes, audiences still love it and have given it an 84%. There are 6 sequels, a short film, and rumors of Saw 8 for the year 2016.

Warning! Potential Spoilers Ahead!

The Plot/Characters: After waking up in a room chained up, nearly drowning in a bathtub, Adam encounters a man named Lawrence, also chained up. Between them is a man with a gunshot wound to the head and a tape recorder nearby his body. The two of them don’t remember how they got into the room with the dead man and attempt to figure out how to escape, encountering clues that Jigsaw left them along the way. Lawrence is challenged to kill Adam in order to keep Jigsaw from killing his wife and kid. The acting is a bit over the top, and Adam’s character fluctuates a lot. Lawrence is at first the likable one; a hard working Doctor and family man. Slowly, however, as we learn about him and Adam, we realize Lawrence has more to him than that and isn’t as great as he paints himself to be. While the characters might not be the most fully developed aspect and the plot drags on slowly as pieces fall into a giant puzzle, what it builds up to is pretty impressive. As they talk, discuss things in the room and try to figure out a way to escape, they are constantly trying to outsmart a person that is ten steps ahead. We learn about other murders that the Jigsaw killer has caused and even that Lawrence himself was suspected of being Jigsaw by the police.

I think what I most enjoyed from this movie was how manipulative the killer is and how carefully he plans everything out. The twists and turns were enjoyable. Also, while there was blood and gore, it was not excessive to the point of making me ill, and I get kind of queasy from that stuff. Now, from what I understand, the next installments up the level of gore, which will keep me away from watching them. I think the worst scene of the movie was when a girl had to dig for a key inside of a man’s stomach… Otherwise, it’s left more up to your imagination. That’s actually a good thing.

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The Scares/Terror: I think what I liked most about this movie, was a lot of the suspense and the fact that I knew it could get gory, but that the first movie held back on that level of gore. Instead, it really focused on building up tension. You have these two people locked in a room both with saws. One is challenged to kill the other. Will he go through with it? What’s really going on behind scenes? The killer is in the shadows, unseen, and we have to catch glimpses of him only through flashbacks for most of the movie.

One of the most frightening scenes was really when the girl in Lawrence’s flashback is trapped in a room by Jigsaw. She’s one of the only survivors recanting how she lived to the police while Lawrence is forced to listen in. She tells them how she was locked in a room with a contraption on her head and given a time limit to get a key out of a man’s stomach who turned out to still be semi-alive. That was pretty intense. Other than that, there were no real times I was personally scared and certainly no jumpscares. What this movie really has going for it is the story buildup and the amount of hurtles that the characters are forced to jump through in order to survive. It makes you think about what you would be willing to do just in order to survive.

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The Score and Atmosphere: Gotta say, I don’t remember the music at all from this movie. To me, that automatically means that it probably didn’t add much of any real value to building up suspense in the film. After going back and listening to it, the OST does have a “creepy” vibe to it, but it really isn’t unique at all besides the ending music after the big reveal. That being said, it’s not like the music detracts from the movie, but it definitely isn’t important to the film. At least, in my opinion.

Overall: I’d give this movie a 3.5/5. While certainly not the best movie out there since the acting is sometimes mediocre and it has a tendency to drag, Saw 1 has a willingness to hold back the gore in favor of weaving an intricate story. It sucked me in and had me hooked right up until the final reveal, which left me shocked and amazed by the writers. Though, after looking up information on the sequels, I certainly would not recommend anything past the first movie. Too bad they couldn’t have kept up the suspense instead of relying on blood and guts…

Have you seen Saw 1? If so, what did you think?

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