Quick-Thoughts: James Wan’s Saw (2004)

Saw Marathon • 4th Viewing • Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead

Rule of thumb: the smaller the budget, the better the James Wan film will be?

I’m currently watching this cult classic at 4am to get into the right mood! Saw 9 (I think that’s where we’re at now?) is coming out next week and I’ve decided to drain out my time by revisiting this gnarly franchise I haven’t watched since grade school.  

I think it’s a damn miracle that this movie works. For starters, virtually nothing in it makes any sense really; everything about its plot is kind of impractical if you put the merest of thought into it, but luckily we live in a majestic world of “DIY compensation” where the circumstances of story illegitimacy can be movie magic-ed by aesthetic and visionary perseverance. The movie’s schizophrenic selling point is helmed by some nasty editing that employs jarring fast-mo to curate anxiety, complemented also by James Wan’s signature 360* camera carousels and grimy underground confinements. Saw is surprisingly exceptional at escalating narrative through a pretty keen structure too that spews exposition in ways that never bores the watcher due to its many integrative plot-lines, characters, backstories, and consistently shocking reveals — as absurd as some of them are. Minus the god-awful acting at hand, I think Wan and Leigh Whannell effectively convey by the end a migraine-inducing feeling of how being left in the dark and only to imagine the worst can drive even the pettiest of spoiled men to resort to something as drastic as self-mutilation. There’s something partially original and disturbingly genuine about the premise that the two have devised here as a silly deconstruction on how desperate we are for life when put to a test, and it’s nice to see a film like that conclude as well in ambiguity to leave viewers to picture the possible aftermath horror themselves just like the main victim in the film was forced to do, until, of course, the sequels came and ruined all that… Even with this thought process in mind though, I’m still a tad lost on how a movie can be this f**king stupid yet this f**king effective, but I guess that’s Saw described in a nutshell.

I want it to go on the record though that if Jigsaw’s zenith of a plan had actually failed, an innocent mother and daughter would’ve died. Just… umm… an observation I made. 

Verdict: B

The Saw Franchise Ranked

“Saw” is now available to stream on HBO Max.

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