31 horror films in 31 days: Saw

MV5BMjAyNTcxNzYwMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzQzNzM5MjE@._V1_SX214_AL_   This was the first time I’ve seen Saw and WOW! I was blown away. And more pissed at myself for not relishing this 2004 cult classic sooner.

The film begins when we find a man (Adam) submerged in a tub of water. He quickly comes to and jumps out of the tub, disorientated and chained to a pipe by his ankle. He finds out that he’s not alone in a disgusting, abandoned bathroom. Chained to another pipe in the opposite corner is Dr. Lawrence Gordon. In between them is a bloody body, holding a gun in one hand and a tape recorder in the other. Clearly this is a man that has committed suicide.

Both Adam and Dr. Gordon find an envelope in their pockets. Adam’s has a small cassette. Dr. Gordon’s contains a key and a bullet. They both try the key to open their shackles, but will no success. After prying the cassette player out of the dead man’s hands, they listen to the tape. A sinister voice tells Gordon that he has 50 minutes to kill Adam, or else his wife and daughter will die. They follow a clue that leads to the toilet, where Adam finds 2 saws. Gordon and Adam assume these saws were put there so they could hack away at their shackles, but every attempt fails.

Frustrated and exhausted, Gordon eventually realizes what’s going on. He tells Adam that he’s familiar with who may be doing this to them, that their captor actually wants them to cut their own foot off. That’s his M.O. – he never actually kills anyone, but forces him or her to struggle to save his or her own lives. This could lead to salvation, or self-induced death. He goes by the endearing name of the Jigsaw Killer.

Through a flashback, we find 3 cops investigating the crime scene of a middle-aged man tangled up in barbed wire. They also find the body of a young boy, burned to death. On one of the walls, they find a peephole, where the killer watched as these men struggled and slowly died a painful death. They also find a penlight, usually used by people in the medical field. Dr. Gordon is brought to the police station and questioned about his whereabouts the previous evening. His answer leads us to believe that he may have been hooking up with a mistress. The cops ask if he’ll watch the testimony of someone who managed to escape this unknown killer. He hesitantly agrees.

We then hear the gruesome story of Amanda, who wakes up and finds herself in an unknown room, strapped to a chair and with a weird contraption attached to her head. A TV near her goes on and plays a video of a doll-like character telling her that she a limited amount of time to find a key in the stomach of the body on the other side of the room, or else her jaw will be ripped in half. Like a reverse bear trap. After squirming her way out of the chair, she runs to said body, only to find he’s still alive. Knowing her time is short, she stabs the man and rips out his guts to find the key. She manages to release the headpiece off seconds before it goes off.

Back in present day, they find a camera hidden behind a two-way mirror. Adam and Gordon now know their every move is being monitored.

Through another series of flashbacks, we learn that Dr. Gordon’s wife is unhappy, he is attempting to have an affair with an intern at his hospital, and his daughter is being terrorized by a man in her bedroom.

In present day, Gordon throws Adam his wallet to show him pictures of his family. Behind one picture, Adam finds a Polaroid of Gordon’s wife and daughter gagged and looking scared. On the back it says to look for an X that marks the spot.

Cut to the actual scene when Gordon’s wife and daughter are taken to the master bedroom, tied and gagged, with a gun at their heads. Meanwhile, we see a man in a dilapidated apartment who is watching the abduction take place, all through a camera lens from across the street of the Gordon residence.

After repeatedly watching the video from Amanda’s crime scene, Detective Tapp recognizes the building and heads out there, dragging along fellow Detective Sing. Upon arriving at the building, they find a table of video equipment, as well as a man, gagged and strapped to a chair with two drills pointed at his skull. Minutes later, Jigsaw shows up. He cuts Tapp’s throat and leads Sing into a trap of tripwires and shotguns. Both are presumed dead.

Back in the bathroom, Gordon and Adam look for an X, only to find it on a wall. Gordon breaks down a section of the wall and finds a box. Inside are two cigarettes, a cell phone, a lighter and a note for Gordon that reads there are ways a cigarette can kill Adam, he needs to use his imagination. Suspicious as to how Adam knew to look for an X in the room, Adam shows him the Polaroid of his wife and daughter, tied up. Realizing Jigsaw is watching them, Gordon turns off the lights and whispers to Adam to follow his lead. With the lights back on, Gordon throws him a cigarette, which Adam huffs down, then pretends to chock and die. His bluff is called when Jigsaw electrocuted him through his ankle shackle.

When Adam comes to, he tells the story of how he was captured while developing photos in his dark room. The cell phone from the box then rings. It’s Gordon’s wife, telling him not to trust anything Adam says, all the while hearing screaming in the background. Confused, Gordon forces Adam to tell him everything he knows. Adam tells him about a man (whom we see is Detective Tapp) that paid him to follow Gordon and take pictures of him meeting his supposed mistress. In one of the pictures captured is of Zep, an orderly that works at Gordon’s hospital.

So now we’re lead to believe that Zep is Jigsaw, but is he? Is Zep the one with the sick agenda to torture people until they admit their sins? Or is Tapp the mastermind behind the whole thing?

Again, I don’t want to be a spoilsport and give the ending away, but the last 20 minutes of the film are a complete mind fuck. You NEED to watch it for yourself.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Recommendation: This movie blew me away, on so many levels. It contained every single element I feel is necessary to make a great horror film: the perfect blend of psychological elements and graphic yet tasteful gore (if there is such a thing), combined with nail biting suspense and shocks around every corner. This movie messed with me every way possible. And hello – who ever thought Cary Elwes to be a convincing horror actor? I loved every moment of it! It will forever be the new addition to my favorites file.


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