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The year was 2004 and I had just started working my first full time job at the local cinema. I have always been a huge horror fan and now that I was going to be seeing films for free, I couldn't wait to catch as many as possible. Then one morning I saw it. A bright green billboard in the middle of town, advertising something new. It read:
"Dare you see Saw?"
My first reaction of course was laughter at the delightful pun and playful imagery of the sentence. However, my smile changed when I watched the trailer. What I had witnessed was the rebirth of horror films. There hadn't a good shock horror film for a number of years, and this one was going to change that. Of course 6 years ago we didn't know quite how much. I remember sitting in the front row of the screen hanging on the edge of my seat at ever bloody act...
"Saw" has a story line that would not be out of place in a murder mystery/thriller. The main idea is that a serial killer is kidnapping people and forcing them to act out murderous scenarios. They are selected by the killer known as "Jigsaw"; a name that is given to him by the police because he cuts a small jigsaw shape out of his victims. These people are chosen because "Jigsaw" feels that they are not living life correctly, that they are squandering their opportunities. He feels this is unfair to those who don't have the chance to live out their lives.
The real story begins when two people wake up in a darkened room, chained to the walls. There is a body of a man in the middle of the floor and there are also some hidden clues to help them gain their freedom. They have to figure out why they are there, how they know each other, who is keeping them there and how they are going to escape. Meanwhile the police are investigating the previous crime committed by "Jigsaw", and are still trying to hunt him down. All of the questions are answered and twists are unveiled that will shock and surprise, leading to an incredible end.
For me, when I think of Saw, I think of the gore. It is masterful! Every single trap is designed not only to teach the victim a lesson, but to make our stomachs turn as they are faced with true terror. The traps are well thought out, and with a certain level of personalization. The violence in "Saw" is like something straight of the grindhouse era of horror.
The acting is generally sub par, however this doesn't really matter when you have a plot that plays out so intricately. The subtlety in the writing is wonderful, and really grabs your attention. Some questions are answered, but with every answer comes another new question. The story really keeps you thrilled, entertained and most importantly, guessing until the very dying seconds.
"Saw" was then turned into a very successful franchise; which is something that the world of cinema needed. There really hadn't been a horror franchise for some time. However, my excitement soon turned to distaste as the movies started to nosedive into the absurd. No longer were carefully woven plots used to entice the viewer, but instead things just got gorier. Now I am all for the gore, but what the film didn't need was to up its game in this department. I would have preferred that they put more thought into the story. Sadly this did not happen.
Regardless of what the series has now become, it does not detract from the wonder that was the first installment. I had longed for a film of its kind, and thanks to Leigh Whannell and James Wan, it was delivered. A truly gritty and bloody horror film was made, and I think everyone should as least watch the first one.