Friday, October 10, 2014

31 Days of Horror-Day 10: Saw (2004)

(dir. James Wan )

      In light of its 10th anniversary I decided it was time to revisit Saw. James Wan’s first feature arguably ushered in the most significant shakeup in the horror genre since Scream. For the first few years of the franchise, the Saw films were the talk of Halloween amongst high-school age moviegoers. And at least in my circle, people were categorized by those who could handle Saw and those who couldn’t. While the much of the shock factor has faded (perhaps a result of seeing too many horror movies) and parts of the film haven’t held up too well, Jigsaw’s motivation is still just as compelling and memorable.

     Saw feels like a delayed result of Seven and it seems Wan is attempting to capture some of that aesthetic here, but there’s a 70s drive-in quality to the filmmaking and performances that’s unshakeable. Saw had the makings of a cult film before it ever became one. There are some odd directorial choices such as the rapid music video-esque cuts in the flashback sequences and use of quick montages. It’s quite interesting to see how much Wan has grown from this to The Conjuring, so much so that films feel like the work of entirely different directors. What Wan and his writing partner, Leigh Whannell excel at is creating clever plots. While there are a number of dumb things the characters do in the movie, the concept is smart and the finale is still chilling. It’s still easy to see why audiences and studio honchos thought it was worth a sequel, though maybe not six.

Scare Factor: 2/5 Saw is probably one of the most widely watched modern horror films, but if it’s been a while since you’ve seen it it’s worth a rewatch. While the genre has shifted again, and sequel fatigue and paranormal activities put the franchise to rest, the original remains a messy, yet clever film with a frightening concept and a decent execution. 

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