One of the most impressive cinematic debuts in memory has arrived in theaters and showcases a very impressive writer/director team that seem poised for great things based on a very impressive debut.
The film is “Saw” and it is a triumph of suspense, horror, and drama that harkens back to the classic work of David Fincher, and dare I say Hitchcock, as it is a bold and daring film, that is a fresh and creative as it is innovative.
The film is written by and features Leigh Whannell, as Adam, a young man who awakens in a dark room in a bathtub filled with water. Although disoriented, Adam soon discovers he is not alone, as he shares the room with another man, Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes), who like him, is chained at the ankle and trapped in the room.
As bad as this is, there is a dead body in the middle of the room that underscores the peril of the situation. Adam and Lawrence eventually discover audio tapes and a player that indicate that they are being held as they do not appreciate the life that they have and as such, are going to lose it unless they can prove how much they want to live.
Lawrence is told via the taped instructions that if he does not kill Adam by 6:00, then his wife and daughter will be killed and clues are given to indicate where to look in the decrepit room. The fact that Adam and Lawrence are chained and have very limited mobility forces the two of them to work with one another, despite the mistrust Adam has towards Lawrence as he was the one they tape said had to be killed.
Lawrence begins to tell Adam that he thinks he knows who is behind their situation, as there has been a series of murders in the area and he was suspect. Through a series of flashbacks Lawrence informs Adam about the Jigsaw killer, who places victims in perilous situations but provides them with a way out, provided they are willing to take extreme measures to show how much they want to live. The bizarre and gruesome situations lead to the introduction of Detective David Tapp (Danny Glover), who is investigating the grizzly trail left by the killer. In many ways, “Saw” become two movies in one as we learn about the history of the crimes, and the investigation leading up to the present situation between Lawrence and Adam. The film also cleverly guises certain events keeping the audience guessing as to if they happened in the past or are occurring in the present adding to the mystery and suspense.
As the story unfolds we learn more about Adam that underscores the tension and allows new avenues for the story to unfold. I will not spoil the twists and turns of the story but suffice it to say, there are plenty of red herrings and plot twists that will keep the audience guessing and some very creative and shocking twists and turns that culminates in an ending that will become one of the most talked about in film history and is destined to carve a niche in horror history.
Director James Wan, who also created the story, has crafted a visually gripping and disturbing film with a very effective pace that shows ability and talent well beyond his years. The film is so masterfully shot and organized that it is hard to believe that this is his first film, as Dramas can often be the downfall of many directors as they are unable to draw tension out of the material.
The screenplay by Whanell is gripping and effective. The characters are defined well within the context of their situations as it is vital to the story that information about the characters is slowly released to the audience in order to create and maintain the tension.
“Saw” is a true wonder as instead of being a simple horror film, it is a deeply complex and disturbing film that showcases two talented individuals in a very impressive debut. The images and story of the film stay with you long after the film ends and like it or love it “Saw” is a well crafted film that is not only disturbing, but refreshingly original. My only issue with the film is that it did drag just a bit while leading up to the finale, but that being said, “Saw” is easily the best horror film in many years.
5 stars out of 5