Saw (2004)

saw poster 2004 movie
5.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 7/10

Decent looking, story has potential

Horrible acting, stupid characters, too many clues to the truth

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Saw

Studio:  Evolution Entertainment

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  January 19, 2004 (Sundance Film Festival)/October 29, 2004

MPAA Rating:  R

saw adam leigh whannell

Should we try to investigate the body lying in the middle of the floor? Nah…

Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) and Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) wake up in a dilapidated bathroom, both chained to the wall, and neither one knowing how they got there. Gordon learns that his wife Alison (Monica Potter) and his daughter Diana (Makenzie Vegas) are going to be killed unless he kills Adam. When Gordon realizes that he’s a prisoner of a killer named Jigsaw, Gordon recalls how his path with Jigsaw crossed before in an investigation involving Detective David Tapp (Danny Glover) and Detective Steven Sing (Ken Leung). Gordon realizes Jigsaw is dangerous and saving his wife and child might mean playing Jigsaw’s games.

Written and directed by James Wan, Saw is a horror survival film.  The movie was a long-form adaptation of Wan’s short 2003 film by the same name.  The movie received negative reviews but became a massive box office success.

The first time I saw Saw, I hated it so I gave it a second chance…it was still a no-go. The movie received lots of comparisons to Seven (which also featured a killer preying on sinners) and in both films, the killer used extreme measures. In Seven, the script and acting were quite tight and strong…here, both are loose and sloppy.

saw amanda shawnee smith face torture

I would rather play Boggle, Mr. Jigsaw

Visually, Wan does a decent job with a low budget and confined quarters of the bathroom set. There isn’t much that can be done in the small set but it is utilized well. The means of death in Saw films are always the highlights and this movie doesn’t have a ton of crazy deaths like later films due to the budget, though the trap-jaw is cool.

*****Spoiler Alert***** The plot of Saw is where some of the problems start popping up. The movie’s written in a way that it is a thriller, but it misses a lot of the thrills through the characters’ stupidity (and the writer believes the members of the audience are just as dumb). You get unnecessary introductions of both Jigsaw aka John (Tobin Bell) and Zep Hindle (Michael Emerson) in a flashback and unless they are somehow involved with the story it makes no sense. You also get characters who are locked up that make no effort to investigate a body lying on the floor (which no one can see breathing)…plus, some of the worse police procedural by Glover and Leung.

saw cary elwes ending gun

Cary Elwes trying out for Dawn of the Dead…and acting like a zombie

Where Saw really fails however is in the acting. I have like Cary Elwes before in films like The Princess Bride, but here, he can’t act his way out of a bag. His scenes are awful…the fear…the concerned…the worry…the desperation…it is all over acted and painful to watch. Leigh Whannell also rivals Elwes lack of acting, but actually is a bit better…but his “fake” poison death is so laughable that I don’t know who he thought it would trick.

This style of film really boosted the torture-porn style of film that came out of this series. This movie didn’t really capitalize on the “porn” aspect of the film (aka lots of nudity and young women being killed), but the torture is definitely there…movies like Hostel and even The Human Centipede kind of followed this gruesome style. Saw was followed by Saw II in 2005.

Related Links:

Saw II (2005)

Saw III (2006)

Saw IV (2007)

Saw V (2008)

Saw VI (2009)

Saw 3D (2010)

Jigsaw (2017)


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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