Saw is fun! I like pointy things!

This is a Cube type situation where I am very willing to overlook certain flaws in a movie, since the concept is just so original. Cube, of course, is the 1998 Canadian sci-fi film where a bunch of strangers wake up in a cube-shaped room, and try to figure out how to escape. Interestingly enough, Saw is the 2004 Aussie-conceived horror film where two strangers wake up in a dingy room, and try to figure out how to escape. Hmm.. I didn't think about this before I started typing about it. Bizarre.

Anyway, Cube is great, though flawed, and same goes for Saw. I'm not reviewing Cube here, so I'll shut up about it. Just watch it, if you haven't already. Saw is definitely a style over substance film, just like some of David Fincher's work, which is good, or Pitof's Catwoman, which is very, very bad. While Saw is not a great overall film, like Silence of the Lambs, or a neo-noir classic like Se7en, it is a fun flick that kept me on the edge of my seat, which is hard to do.

I watched the DVD of Saw, just by myself. I had wanted to catch in the theater, but just never got around to it. Plus, I had heard it compared to what I call the "new slashers" such as Jeepers Creepers, the Texas Chainsaw remake, Final Destination, etc., which invariably suck. Give me Ju-on any day. But I was very surprised by Saw, at the originality of the creators, Director James Wan and Screenwriter/Star Leigh Whannell. This is the first movie for both, and it shows, but I nevertheless have high expectations for any future projects from the duo.

I should explain the plot a bit. Basically, Adam and Lawrence, two seemingly unrelated guys, wake up on opposite ends of the same enclosed room, both securely chained at the ankle to large pipes. There is a body in the middle of the room, holding a tape recorder and a gun. They receive instructions that if Lawrence wants his family to live, he must kill Adam. Things go from there, both in real-time, and in flashbacks detailing the mastermind's previous exploits. This is a simple setup, but it does provide a great deal of tension. The "Jigsaw" character seems to rely on a Rube Goldberg-meets-Catch 22 approach, but hey, it works for him.

Now the flaw that I spoke of is the acting. EVERYBODY OVERACTS!!!! I'M DOING IT RIGHT NOW!!! LOUD NOISES!!!!!! Now I can't expect Cary Elwes to do his best Wesley here, but a more seasoned director would have found ways to tone down the screaming and yelling, while maintaining the emotion. Danny Glover is the worst offender, as he plays a cop like every other cop in movie history, and then plays an ex-cop like a raving lunatic. Oh boy.

You could dismiss saw as another music video posing as a movie, and a cheap way to make a couple bucks, both of which are probably true. But sometimes style is good, and it can overcome weak performances and a little convuluted storytelling. So Saw gets a B, and I get a fun two hours. Good trade.


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