Saw (2-Disc Uncut Edition)

Sunday, February 24th, 2008 @ 10:44 pm | DVD, Saw

Saw (2-Disc Uncut Edition)
Tagline: How Much Blood Would You Shed to Stay Alive?
Released: 2004
Starring Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannell, Danny Glover, and Tobin Bell
Directed by James Wan
Written by James Wan and Leigh Whannell

Format: DVD
Distributed by Lions Gate
DVD Release Date: October 18, 2005

Disc 1 Features:
Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16×9 TVs – Newly Remastered Alternate Cut
6.1 DTS-ES Digital Audio
5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX
2 Feature-Length Audio Commentaries
English and Spanish Subtitles

Disc 2 Features:
Saw – Director’s Original Short Film – in 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
On-Set Preview of Saw II
Hacking Away at Saw – Behind the Scenes
Exclusive Episode of “Full Disclosure Report” – Go Inside the Real Jigsaw Investigation!
Alternate Storyboard Sequence
Jigsaw’s Workshop (Build a Puppet DVD-ROM)
Saw Director’s Art Gallery
Trailers
Easter Eggs

Premise: Obsessed with teaching his victims the value of life, a deranged, sadistic serial killer abducts the morally wayward. Once captured, they must face impossible choices in a horrific game of survival. The victims must fight to win their lives back, or die trying…

Backstory: It is hard to believe the story behind this film. Two Australians sent the script and a short film (included on DVD) to America and had it picked up and turned into a multi-million dollar franchise. It isn’t Halloween anymore without another Saw film, and although the first movie was an intelligent suspense thriller, it has quickly become a horror cash cow.

Plot Breakdown (spoilers): A man wakes up in a bathtub in a dark room unaware of his location or why this is happening. He soon learns that he is not alone and when the lights come on, comes face to face with Dr. Lawrence Gordon. Both men are chained to pipes in a derelict bathroom, closed off from the world. In the center of the room is a dead body, a gun in his hand and his brains everywhere else.

They start to try and ascertain why they are here and who brought them. The answer eventually comes in the form of a tape recorder in the dead man’s hand. The contents of which explain that they are both there for the same reason – they do not value their lives. The man on the tape is going to make them prove to him they do… but how you ask?

Gordon is told, in order to survive he must kill the other man in the room: Adam. His motive? Adam is a photographer doing surveillance for the police. He has pictures of Gordon visiting his mistress and was there when Gordon was abducted. Dr. Gordon realizes this is the work of the “Jigsaw Killer” – a man who places people in situations where they must place survival over pain, more often than not, in bizarrely ironic ways. Dr. Gordon was a suspect in the Jigsaw case and was present to hear the only surviving victim give her statement. The girl, Amanda, explains the horrific account of how she awoke wearing a “reverse bear trap” on her face threatening to yank her head in two. With seconds counting down, she has to find the key in the stomach of a man dead in the room with her. Before her scalpel strikes, and with mere seconds to go, the man wakes up… and after a moment of hesitation she attacks.

As a suspect Dr. Gordon has been followed by grizzled cop David Tapp. Tapp has his own reasons for hunting Jigsaw – the death of his partner. His obsession for Gordon leads him to being suspended and staking out the Doctor’s house unaware Gordon is in Jigsaw’s hands. Gordon’s wife is also living in blissful ignorance even though the killer may be in her house.

Events unravel to the point where Gordon panics, and with the threat of his wife and child being harmed, cuts through his own leg to free himself from the chains. Bleeding to death, he crawls away leaving Adam alone. Except not… the body in the room rises and is revealed as the killer. In fear, Adam tries to shoot him with the gun, and so Jigsaw turns off the light and slams the door behind him. For now, Adam’s fate is as unknown as the dark he is left in.

SAW

Good Points: For a first time movie, from untested film-makers, Saw is a superbly crafted suspense film. The (pardon the pun) execution is excellent in terms of cinematography and the film looks very stylized. The story is done well too, with just the right amount of twists and turns to keep you guessing while the final series of revelations, combined with the thumping score, is tense edge-of-your-seat stuff. Acting wise, the film is fine. The stand out being Elwes, who hasn’t been good since The Princess Bride, whereas Glover does his usual patented “so quiet you can’t hear him” routine. The real surprise is Whannell, who also co-wrote the script. Whilst many have slated his portrayal, it works as he is an actor you have never seen before. Most films with “NEW STARS” tend to saturate the media, thus pulling all credibility away, but Whannell is a nobody who brings no past baggage.

The DVD is packed with bonus features. The best is the original short they used to sell the film. It’s the Amanda scene, but played with Whannell, and you also learn how much design the two had into the props. I listened to both commentaries in one sitting and they play like a how-to guide. The story of the selling of the film is a true Hollywood fairy tale, but still gives hope to those waiting in the wings. Much of the rest is standard DVD fluff, but still worth a view.

Bad Points: The worst thing about Saw is it spawned a series that could never live up to the first. As the films have continued, and the story became more convoluted, many forget what an amazing film the first one is. Sometimes the film is undecided in where it is going, as some scenes are pure horror, whereas the rest of the film seems to just be a dark thriller.

The DVD smells of a cash in. Plus, how long is the cover going to stay full of fake blood? Once it dries up, it’ll look dumb on my shelf.

Final Comments: In the 90’s, we had Silence of the Lambs and Seven, and it seemed for a while we wouldn’t have a suspenseful thriller for a good while. Saw emerged from nowhere, with ads in the press and on billboards, still making me none the wiser. The image was striking – a severed foot is marketing genius! Best viewed alone… chained to a u-bend.
Grade: B+

– by contributing reviewer Video Hero

 

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