> Volume 6 > Number 31


James Wan

Cary Elwes
Leigh Whannell
Danny Glover
Monica Parker

Release: 1 Oct. 04



The moral of the story in Saw is that one should love their life while they have it. Yet no one will feel especially heartened to the continuation of humanity after watching an overly violent, amateurish thesis like this. Hereís a film that drives the point by imagining scenarios in which people cause their own deaths by blood loss and incineration. All this happens in the hands of a sadistic serial killer who more closely resembles the filmmakers -- his pleasure in watching the pain of others is augmented by the knowledge that he created the theatre for all this suffering.

Iíve softened to Michael Haneke as heís become less a rabid sadist and more a cynical storyteller. His films -- it took him a dozen to do what David Fincher did on his second, Se7en -- find a cross between the human drama and the destructive forces of his own imagination. Saw is retrograde, coming as a barely coherent exploration of violence for the sake of violence. The twisty storytelling, usually at the expense of another innocent, comes across as coverage for a failed script. The ideas of Se7en-level storytelling are lost as the screenwriter (who also plays one of the filmís main two victims) tries to cover his tracks by positing impossible contrivances. The direction isnít much better as director James Wan goes crazy with the editing and sound. The promise of the opening -- in which we are presented with two men given a sprawling riddle to solve lest they die-- is lost as the film pains to explain everything that preceded this scenario. The Canadian film Cube traveled similar territory but with greater effect: answers were vague and barely found, and the meaning of the violence had a personal sense of survival, not the scribbling of a kid who thinks Godís gift to humanity is death

©2004, David Perry,, 30 July 2004