Sunday, October 30, 2005

Saw

Saw (2/5)

Now that the sequel is hitting theaters I figured I'd put up my thoughts on the original. Judging by the rule of sequels and the above score I can't say that I'll drop ten dollars on Saw II. We'll see how it does opening weekend.

The original Saw opens up with an interesting premise. Two guys wake up in a room together...no, it's not that kind of movie! They're both chained to the wall and given a...wait for it, wait for it...SAW! Through the course of the film they have to follow various clues in order to find a way out of the room. There is also a countdown they have to worry about.

The writers aren't able to make this premise fully work, and are forced to resort to flashbacks and a side story involving Danny Glover. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. First, because the flashback allows us to see Jigsaw's, the mysterious villain, more elaborate traps. Second, because you just can't complain when Murtaugh is on screen.

The Jigsaw traps are clever, and involve barbed wire, someone getting burned to death, and a contraption that could potentially tear off someone's jaw. I won't get into too much detail for those of you who haven't seen this movie. I'll save the spoilers for later.

There's a lot of nitpicking you could do on the first two-thirds of the film. For example, the flashback are supposed to be told by one character but include things he never would have seen or known about, the camera effects are annoying, and the surviving victim has a really dumb line. I was able to ignore these because it was an interesting premise and had potential. However, I was unable to ignore the last third of the film which had some of the laziest screenwriting I've seen in a while.

**Spoiler Alert** **Spoiler Alert** **Spoiler Alert** **Spoiler...oh, you get the idea.

Cary Elwes gets out of character at the end of the film. For most of the movie he's a calm and collected, but turns on the overacting button at the very end. This isn't all of his fault because he has to sell certain actions that make no sense. Early in the film Elwes' character Dr. Gordon tells Adam, the other man in the room, to use his shirt to get an object out of reach. At the end of the film Dr. Gordon has to reach a cell phone in order to find out if his family is all right. Instead of following his own advice, he decides to cut off his own leg. I know everybody's been waiting for this the entire film, but does it have to be so contrived. The worst part is that he does take off his shirt, but only to use it as a tourniquet!

One of the big surprises of the film is that the man who we've been lead to believe is Jigsaw is in fact merely being used by Jigsaw. It turns out that Jigsaw has given him a poison and won't give him the antidote unless he follows his instructions. We've seen this character before as an orderly at a hospital. Let me repeat that:, he works at a hospital. So, instead of telling one of his coworkers that he's been poisoned, he decides to get involved with an elaborate scheme of kidnapping, and even goes so far as to try and kill someone. I know that if I was presented with those two choices I would definitely go for the latter.

The single big surprise the filmmakers graciously leave for the end is the identity of Jigsaw. Jigsaw is actually a cancer patient we see for a total of three seconds during the movie. It also turns out that the dead body is not actually dead, but this same cancer patient who has been sitting there perfectly still for the entire movie. Whoa! You mean to tell me that extra number 37 was Jigsaw this entire time? No way! I should have guessed, it was right in front of me the whole time.

I've seen better twist endings from a Scooby-Doo episode. That's not hyperbole either. If you want to see how it should be done check out The Usual Suspects or the original Scream. Those are surprise endings where you don't feel cheated.

It's a real shame that the writers came up with such an original idea, but chose to get incredibly lazy for the last third of the movie. If you really want to see a well done horror film that actually uses one set, go check out Cube. The acting isn't better, but the execution is far more interesting.

1 comment:

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