Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pwaters' Month of Terror Day 22: Saw

Hello ladies, gentlemen, and creatures lurking in the shadows!  This month, October, is a favorite among horror fans, such as myself.  My goal for the next 31 days is to share with you the scariest and best of the genre.  The films will range from old school classics to modern day gorefests (they won't be in any particular order).  So scout these movies out, grab a bag of popcorn (or a blood bag) and enjoy!

Saw (2004)
James Wan

Saw typically gets a bum wrap from critics and naysayers who brush it off as "torture porn" or trash cinema - but if you sit down, watch the movie, and give it an actual chance, you'd see that it's much more clever and well-made than you would have believed.  The story begins with two strangers (played by Cary Elwes and the writer himself Leigh Whannell) waking up in a dirty, dingy bathroom, handcuffed to opposite sides of the room.  As they begin to regain consciousness and try to piece together what happened, they realize they are now the pawns in a sick game created by the latest "killer," Jigsaw (voiced, and played in later entries by Tobin Bell), after they each find an audiocassette player and play a message regarding the "rules."  Elwes is told he must kill Whannell before the clock times out or else his family will die; they are also given small clues as to how to escape.  All the while police detectives are on the trail (Danny Glover and the asian ghost whisperer from Lost), and by the end there have been so many twists and turns your head will be spinning.

As opposed to the films with which it's often compared (such as Hostel or Wolf Creek), Saw has a complex story and a killer with a philosophy.  He doesn't kill to "get off" or for pleasure or just for the sake of doing it - he plays his game in an effort to give people a new perspective on life, to show them how valuable and fragile their life is (usually picking his victims based on the wrongs they have committed).  In a demented way, his unconventional thinking kind of makes sense, which is what I think makes the series much richer than most people give it credit for.  The villain wants to cure, not kill, his victims.  He also makes a unique trap for each individual, each one representing whatever atrocity they have committed.  So not only is it intense, brutal, cleverly written and completely disgusting and gory (in an over-the-top good way), but it leaves you second-guessing your own morality once it's over, and I can't say that about many movies, let alone a blood-drenched torture flick.

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