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Saw - the movie

Saw is one overhyped movie. And although there is a lot of stuff to get really scared about in this film, the scariest is the acting. What’s painful about Saw is that although the movie starts promisingly, and with a wonderfully and undeniably clever premise, the director loses track midway, and the momentary twitch you start feeling towards the middle of the movie, intensifies as you realize the incompetency of the actors.

Spoiler Alert: Plot details follow

The movie starts with two guys who don’t know each other waking up in a dirty, tiled room, rather, bathroom. Chained to pipes at opposing ends of the room, the first few moments of the movie are pretty clever as horror wafts over both of them as they observe the grisly remains of an apparent suicide in the middle of the room between both of them. Which brings us to the centerpiece of the movie - the serial killer, Jigsaw, who has left a tape consisting of his terms and conditions for the benefit of the two captives. His basic idea is to teach people how important and beautiful life is, by placing the captives in the most terrifying situations possible. Jigsaw is probably the most imaginative part of the movie, and there is a terrifying feel to the whole premise of keeping the victims alive for enough time to feel the beauty and transient nature of life. After revealing Jigsaw’s plans to the two captives, the director unfortunately goes astray, guided by some of the worst acting in recent times by the lead. Elwes (who plays the quiet doctor) is shown as resourceful and patient and between the two of them, they think of ways to get themselves out of their predicament. Things are made tougher by the fact that the only way Jigsaw portends that the doctor can escape is by killing Adam, the other captive. If he fails, both of them would die, along with Gordon’s family. The rest of the film is an exercise in paranoia influenced by claustrophobic surroundings and the harrowing message of insanity coupled with a strangely potent death-looming-straight-in-the-face feeling.

To be fair to the film, it has its moments of gruesomeness, but the director really knows how to let the heroes play the mind games devised by the killer and try and come up with a way to release themselves. The entire process of constructing and reconstructing their lives and getting to know the other captive is an eerie and entertaining process at the same time, but the film loses track as the director resorts to a patchy flashback narrative style to drive the point home. Clarity is sacrificed for an intrusive back-and-forth approach, in which we come to know about the Jigsaw and his previous attempts at murder, and attempts to catch the perpetrator. There are several moments in the film, where you are forced to reconsider your internal logic, and you are amazed as the policemen act in ways more stupid than teenage girls in slash flicks, running into danger without backup. Combined with the usual shock-and-scare cliches, you feel disappointed. Questions pile up in your mind faster than you can answer them, and you are left begging. The usual shocks, the usual twists, though are several and can serve to entertain you, but not for long. Not with so many questions troubling your mind.

Saw is not a bad film, not by any means. It could have been an exceedingly clever film, and could have been much better, had the director involved a more direct narrative style rather than the flashbacks which set to confuse than clarify. It would have helped if he hadn’t resorted to the horror-hack cliches like every other summer-horror flick. Saw owes a great deal to Seven and other similar serial-killer flicks, but it fails because in spite of a really clever premise and some really intense opening scenes, because it insults the intelligence at several points. I guess I would have liked Saw more if the director wouldn’t have used the same old tricks to scare and shock me. I would have liked it more if the gore was shown indirectly than directly. Sometimes the imagination has more power to scare than a visual. I guess I would have liked it more if the acting would have been better sans the faked British and American accents which, by the way sounded desperately out of place. Most importantly, I would have liked it better if the amateurish rants by the newcomer Whannell could have been left to a minimum.

However Saw does succeed at some levels. Perhaps, because it is based on an extremely clever idea.

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