[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B005C4446A][/pullquote] 2004 Saw the launch of one of the most successful horror franchises of all time. Saw introduced the film-going audience to the Jigsaw killer and the mainstream pushing of the future ˜torture porn’ genre. This along with Eli Roth’s Hostel created the new wave of horrors with the idea being that audiences would embrace watching the torture and suffering of human beings as a spectacle. As history has shown us, it was a wise move financially as Saw was a big success and spawned six sequels and a host of copy-cat horror creations.
Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) awakes in a run-down bathroom chained to the wall with a stranger on the opposite side of the room and a corpse between them. After finding a series of clues the two men discover a tape that explains that they have lived their lives in a many not befitting of them and they must now decide what they’re willing to do to survive. Meanwhile Detectives Tapp (Danny Glover) and Sing (Ken Leung) investigate a series of horrific deaths in abandoned buildings around the city, each with the calling card of the Jigsaw killer at the scene.
Shot in the now recognisable drained and green-tinted focus that so encapsulates the worn-down and atrophying atmosphere of the series, from the outset, Saw is clearly not to be played for laughs. Where some horror films try to inject humour to break the moments of tension, Saw uses brutal explosions of violence, with the rich red of the blood bringing the over-saturated sets to life. Some horrors have been bloody before, but none revelled in the pain and suffering of its stars in such a way.
It was this unique approach and originality of the story that set Saw apart from so many other horror films at the time. The writers didn’t want just suffering, they wanted to tell a complex Hitchcockian mystery with a group of dysfunctional strangers thrust into situations where serious choices had to be made. This engaged with the audience long after the film finished as it challenged everyone watching to question how far they’d go to save their own lives.
It is a shame then that everything that made the film so stand-out in the first place has been sullied be year-on-year remakes and hundreds of ˜inspired by’ films, each of them a pale imitation of this original. It doesn’t remove from the overall quality, but it does sour the initial thrill, especially for those people that haven’t seen it yet, but have seen one of the lesser incarnations.