Film — Saw (R)

Saw (R)

by Amy Diaz

Fire up the lasers and the unnecessarily-slow-dipping mechanism as we gather ‘round for the story of a serial killer who’s all about the Elaborate Method of Death in the delightfully gory Saw.

The EMD here is, essentially, persuasion. The serial killer, known by the police as Jigsaw, sets up elaborate puzzles wherein the victims can free themselves only if they first suffer enormous amounts of physical and psychological pain. If they fail, they die horrible grisly deaths. If they succeed, they are usually maimed and on the line for a life of therapy.

So, you know, it’s a win/win.

Playing this week’s round of Elaborate Method of Death are Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Gary Ewles) and Adam (Liegh Whannell). They wake up in a filthy bathroom, each chained to a pipe on opposite sides of the room. Joining them in the contestant’s booth is a bleeding corpse holding a tape recorder in one hand and a revolver in another. Hidden around the room are assorted keys, audio tapes, a bullet and saws. And now it’s time to play our game.

The electronically disguise voice of the killer informs each man on the tape recorder that they are probably going to die but have a few opportunities to cheat death. One way, for example, that Dr. Larry can stay alive—and, by the way, save the lives of his wife and child—is to kill Adam. Adam, of course, is not so keen on that. Both men have a reasonable chance of escape if they are willing to use the saws, which they quickly discover can not cut through their chains but can cut through their feet.

Unlike many an unwilling participant in the Elaborate Method of Death gameshow, Dr. Larry has a bit of information about the host. A few weeks back, Larry was under suspicion by Detectives Tapp (Danny Glover) and Sing (Ken Leung). They were investigating Mr. Jigsaw and found a piece of evidence at one of his crime scenes that connected Dr. Larry with the murders. The police eventually let Larry off the immediate suspect hook but Tapp continued to watch him, still believing that Lawrence was the killer. What this means to the story remains unclear until the end of the movie, when it is cleared up with an irrelevant murder. But what this means for you and I is about half an hour of exposition.

Here’s what I like about Saw: it’s honest. You want gore, it says, we got your gore right here. You want your horrible maiming? Check. You want your family in peril? Yep, we got some of that. You want your scary masks and creepy electronically-altered voice? All over it. This movie bills itself as a psychological deathfest and it is half right. It’s about a psychologically taxing as an episode of Murder, She Wrote but, honestly, isn’t correctly guessing who the killer is in the first five minutes of the movie half the fun?

If you are looking for the scare-you-to-the-core creepiness of Silence of the Lambs, rent Silence of the Lambs. If you are looking for dumb and violent, Saw will do just fine.

- Amy Diaz 

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