Sunday, December 19, 2004
SAW: Horrifyingly Disturbing
By Reymundo Salao
Just Another FIlm Junkie
The Guardian, December 18-19, 2004
For those who want an appropriate "Christmas feel" of a movie, it would be an obvious and perfect choice to pick the movies "Christmas with the Kranks" and "Surviving Christmas". The titles of both films are pretty self-explanatory and promises give you such a yuletide of a treat. But for those who want to take time out from all the perkiness and the bright-colored jolly moods, and prefer to spend some time on the thrill of a shock-horror masterpiece, there's "SAW".
"SAW" may seem to have lacked that marketing hype from its producers and local distributors, that is why many of us never may not have heard about the movie till just now. So if you're hesitant over the film, thinking its just another small-time horror flick from a couple of "unknown" producers, be hesitant no more, because I would not lie when I say that "SAW" may be the year's most terrifying horror movie. Sure, "Dawn of the Dead" may have given us that post-apocalyptic fast-pulse shock, sure, "The Grudge" may have given us that hair-raising eeriness. But "SAW" makes you see, hear, and fear the horror, and makes you think about it later on, wishing that you would not be put on the same torturous situation as the characters of this movie.
Horror movies have lately focused on Ghost and/or Spirit activity; hauntings that kill with enigmatic effect. But "SAW" takes us back to the idea of sick serial killers; frighteningly realistic. Like any "serial killer" movie that has some quality, the killer always has a profound and sublime motive. Random, but ultimately sublime. For the killer on this movie, who is nicknamed JIGSAW, has one thought of mind that he tells his victims: The idea that many of us should be grateful just to be alive, yet everyday, we tend to make life wasteful or we never seem to stop bickering over the little insecurities of life. This strikes a chord on many of us, because it is the truth; many of us never seem to find contentment in our lives. It is being human, but it's not a human trait we should cultivate. On my column last Wednesday, I wrote a hysterical article about how I'm upset over life's complications and miseries, without even realizing the fact that I should be just glad to be alive. Each and every one of us tends to have the same feelings of contempt over how imperfect our lives are. And the sick beauty of the "SAW" storyline is that we, who are guilty of having the same natural feelings of discontent, could've been the victims of the serial killer on this movie. For the killer seeks for his victims to find that contentment, even if he has to drag them into torture to do it.
And how does he kill his victims? The victims usually die in a very gory, unbelievably shocking manner. Jigsaw does not technically "kill" his victims, he puts his victims in a situation, in a game, that they would end up killing themselves. A sort of a game of choice: Choose to die, or choose to torture yourself to get through that very thin chance of living through the game. An example is that of a victim trapped in an underground chamber. The only door that leads outside has a timer that is set to close at a particular deadline. If it shuts, that room will later be filled with lethal gas that would kill the victim inside. But in order to get through that door the victim must pass through a cage filled with barbed wires and hooks. And, by the way, the victim is naked. Do the math.
The film has a respectable cast, although their credits are not overblown (and seems to not even appear) in the posters. There's Cary Elwes, who has appeared in "The Crush" and has shined in comedies like "Robin Hood: Men In Tights" (he played Robin on that film), and "Liar Liar". But on this film he looks very different, this perhaps, attributing to the entire deadly mood of the storyline. There's also Monica Potter who was last seen in perky roles as well. And there's Danny Glover, who always is reliable on playing the "hardened cop" role. And there is Leigh Whannell, who played a very small role in Matrix Revolutions and is actually the brilliant screenwriter of this movie, plays Adam, who is one of the central roles in the movie. And along with him, everybody's acting is superbly scary. I have noticed a particular focus on the screaming in this movie. It is as if there is emphasis that lets you feel the screams, feel the fear in it. Like a howl of excruciating pain, the sound of the screams alone would give you the chills. There is also the entire mood of the film. The sets, the cinematography, the color tone of the film. Very gritty. Very dark. It reminds you of the music videos of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, which makes sense because the musical director of this movie, Charlie Clouser, is once a band member of Nine Inch Nails. (Thanks for the info, nervegasm)
The movie was directed by James Wan (also has some credit in the storyline) which has earned my respect on the horror and perhaps the psychological films genre, and I would certainly be awaiting what his next project would be. "SAW" is rated R for strong grisly violence. Nays and Tays would best keep their kids away from this movie. But to everybody else above 13, especially the horror aficionados, this film is a "never miss" screamfest.