I saw Saw with the idea in mind that I was seeing Seven and soon succumbed to the short circuit that is this shocker. This is a comedy film. Granted, I didn’t see it when it first premiered and there was all the expected hype surrounding it, but the genre on the back of the box said HORROR. Had I sat in front of the film knowing that in reality it is a comedy (noir, if you like), I would have maybe been more receptive. Damn those previews now-a-days…they can be deceiving.
James Wan, the first time director behind this David Fincher-wannabe-directed atrocity, shoots in varying shades of grey – and grey is my favorite color. But grey, however, is not good color for a serial killer/horror film that secretly yearns to be flashy-Friday night-Wes Craven-popcorn fare. Generally, serial killer/horror films are gloriously drab (e.g. The Silence of the Lambs, Suspect Zero, Henry), but at the same time are filmed and scripted and performed to be taken seriously. They are filmed with the purpose to build up and harden in the crevices of the mind, like a cancer. Saw, instead, builds up like an abscess.
Cary Elwes plays Dr. Lawrence Gordon, a hardened hospital O.R. Doc who we are introduced to at the onset of the film, chained to a grimy pipe. Leigh Whannell (also the screenwriter) who plays Adam wakes up in a bathtub under the tiny blue ambient light of a keychain floating on the waters surface. Adam it turns out, is also chained to a pipe, but on the other side of the room from Lawrence. As the camera lets us see more of the scene, it is revealed that there is an individual lying face down in a pool of blood with a grisly gunshot wound to the head directly between them. Conveniently, he is lying face down with both arms outstretched; a gun on Lawrence’s side and a tape recorder on Adam’s side – both annoyingly just out of reach to them.
To make a pun off Jerry Maguire – if you’ll permit me – this movie only had me up to “hello.” Literally, at the moment Elwes begins by all-too-rationally introducing himself to the initially crazed Adam, I lost all conceivable interest in the characters. Elwes retains the same jovial accented lisp that he skipped through Robin Hood with and Whannell should probably just re-think the whole acting thing.
If you’re looking for scares (and are way behind on your popular movie watching only because you spend most of your time watching the classics – like me), Saw has a minimal amount. It does, however, have one scene that was totally enthralling and rather well crafted. You just read the synopsis of it above. Oh, well, maybe the scene with the ingenious use of Adam’s photo camera flash in lieu of a flashlight. That was pretty smart. The audience is then privy to this jolting perspective as Adam skulks about his ratty apartment, popping the flashbulb and then anxiously/nervously waiting for it to recharge so he can pop it again. This short-lived blast of white light is the only thing Adam can see (us too) as he, in stock horror movie fashion, goes to investigate the sound coming from the other room. I wanted more creativity such as this throughout the movie, but unfortunately, that was the extent of heart rate heightening moments.