A Film Review By The Mike

Rating:RATED R for Violence, Disturbing Imagery, and Danny Glover
Starring: Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Leigh Whannell
Directed By: James Wan

Final Grade:

It’s been a big year for bad endings in the horror genre. First there was the Ashton vehicle The Butterfly Effect, which lost its focus in the last half-hour, only to be shown up by an even worse ending on the director’s cut DVD. Then, the MTV-ized remake of Dawn of the Dead almost ruined itself with a series of scenes intertwined with the credits that took away from the extraordinary climax that had preceded them. Even horror related films like Van Helsing and Hellboy took missteps in closing their plotlines adequately. And let’s not even mention The Village.

As if that weren’t enough, this fall’s three biggest horror releases, The Forgotten, The Grudge, and now Saw, have ended with much less than a bang. It’s almost to the point where I’d be forced to say that the best horror ending of the year belonged to the uber-B-movie Anacondas. That’s sad.

The point, as I see it, is that horror writers of late are too caught up in the build up and not involved with how to finalize their story. Atmosphere and intensity throughout the film have become first priority, but have also led to the fact that an ending that can top the rest of the film’s momentum is rarely possible. Gone are the likes of Rosemary’s Baby and Halloween, when a slow burn to a killer finale is what audiences received. And yet, despite this trend, I fully admit that I looked forward to Saw as the film that would stand out from this trend. The premise was too good to lose itself.

Sadly, it did. After a great hour and a half of flashbacks and intriguing development (not to mention a few sadistic and original kills), Saw, like its genre mates, delved into a labyrinthine “whodunit” twistfest. Each twist got more and more absurd, and raised more questions than it did answers. It’s kind of funny that a film that claims that every piece has a puzzle ties itself together so loosely.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot I love about Saw. James Wan’s film is stylish and dark, providing some great scenes that are more reminiscent of Se7en than the Texas Chainsaw Massacre style film I was expecting. The plot is inventive, and the final act gets points from me for its intensity, even if it doesn’t hold water after some thought. When you can turn off your brain and enjoy a man sawing off his own foot is when you can get the most out of this film.

I managed to make that connection, even though I was quite disappointed by the final turns of events. There’re a lot of missed opportunities in this Saw’s final cut, but it still makes for one of the more enjoyable and original horror films of recent memory. I’m also sure that, with its expectations lowered on repeat viewings, Saw should become a staple of any horror fan’s recommendations, at least as a great horror for group viewing. Because, let’s face it, we all get a kick out of watching people walk into obvious and sadistic traps. In that aspect this Saw’s pretty sharp, even if it’s realism is a little dull.

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