Movie Review: SAWLionsgate
2004
R

“Doctor Gordon, this is your wake up call…”

Okay, I repent. I went into this movie (on Halloween night, mind you) thinking, “Yeah, it’ll be another flashy but mediocre serial killer thriller.” I left feeling like I just got pounded into dust and smoked out of a corn cob pipe, the ashes of which were then disposed of in a vat of acid. Yeah, that’s about it…

Anyway, I’ve got to once again give it up to Lion’s Gate Films for putting out a way edgy and ballsy movie. There’s no way in hell this kind of film could have made it to screens like this if it was distributed by, say, a more mainstream studio. It would have been sliced, diced, and re-edited for a more consumer-friendly PG-13 rating, and this would have sucked big time. Nope, not here. This is a perfect example of not messing with flawed perfection…

Basically, the movie starts off with two guys waking up in scummy enclosed space, chained to pipes on opposite ends of the room, with a dead body in the middle of them. It just gets weirder and much more terrifying from there, as we learn that these two people (one a successful doctor, and the other a freelance photographer) were chosen to play a sick and twisted game of “Earn The Right To Live” by a psychotic madman nicknamed Jigsaw. From there, this genre bully had me by the scruff of my neck, pressing me against the corner of the wall until the end credits rolled. Not only was this a nifty twist on a familiar concept, but the way it’s executed (mucho flashbacks illustrating the character’s everyday lives, little subtle clues as to the killer’s identity, the knock-you-over-the-head-with-a-blackjack twists, and the investigation subplot) worked like the killer’s nickname- it was all sorted out like a jigsaw puzzle, begging you to try and piece this sick puppy together. Parts of me wanted to see the big picture, but another part didn’t want to leave this sick and twisted maze so soon. Ooooh, the sweet, sweet darkness…

Like the bastard child of the movies Se7en and The Cube, the high suspense tone, the fearless glimpses of the violence, and the overall characterization and smart script (is someone really considered a murderer if they technically don’t kill their victims, they just have them do it?) had me on the edge of my seat. The minor quibbles I have, really, are 1) the needless MTV-like editing job at places (got a headache from the quick-cuts…tone it down guys), and 2) the overacting at the end (seriously, I half expected the two guys to kiss). Otherwise, this movie touched me deeply…and it didn’t wear a rubber glove when it did. Check this out…highly recommended by yours truly…