Now that I think about
it, that was a pretty fucking good night of theater. Saw
isn't. It's supposed to be a thriller/horror movie but it ain't
nearly as scary as it is just gory. Loads of blood, body parts
and squeamish shit. But there aren't any jolts or thrills in it.
Just a Rube Goldberg plot that makes no sense when considered,
and a standard-issue post-Silence of the Lambs chase ending
where a sloppy screenwriter tries too fucking hard to tie all
the pieces together into a neat little package.
its high concept as loudly and quickly as the Harelip declares
her farts. To its credit, Saw doesn't stand up, point to
its ass and say, "Hello, Doctor!" In it, a whiny punk (writer
Leigh Whannell) wakes up in a filthy, industrial bathroom, chained
to a pipe. So is a self-absorbed doctor (Cary Elwes) on the other
side of the room. In the middle is a corpse, lying face down in
a pool of blood with a pistol in one hand and tape recorder in
the other. It's a game set up by a serial killer. This killer
tells Elwes he must kill Whannell or his wife and child will die.
There's a puzzle for Elwes and Whannell to solve, and if they
do, maybe they won't die. Or so the plot pretends very briefly
before forgetting that in pursuit of its ridiculous ending. There's
a backstory, too, where Elwes was once a suspect (of course) in
this killer's previous murders. And while Elwes doesn't know Whannell,
the opposite isn't true, despite pretending.
Meanwhile, a sadly
slumming Danny Glover plays the requisite obsessed cop who, of
course, will solve the crime at almost exactly the same time the
killer is about to off the people we've been forced to watch for
100 minutes. Glover's scenes play in flashback and simultaneous
to the bathroom drama. In other words, the movie is a cocksure
mixture of a bunch of other movies, all were better, but they
weren't all necessarily good. It mimics the grime and gore of
Seven, apes the devious killer of Silence of the Lambs
and plagiarizes the heightened suspicions from the claustrophobic
setting of just about any cabin-in-the-mountains horror movie.
Plotwise, the movie
sucks because it's way more concerned with setting up these Byzantine,
TV-Batman style killing machines than it is making any sense of
why. So, each murder plays out like a vignette designed more for
maximum goriness than for plot. A fat guy has to crawl through
razor wire and a junkie has to dig into the guts of a sedated
man to find a key. Why? Because some hack screenwriter thought
it's be cool. No other reason is as believable.
The movie is so relentless
in its efforts to be creepy because it's dingy, but it's like
a bad Xerox of a movie with actual tone. The bathroom is how you'd
imagine the one in the apartment of a stringy meth junkie who
poors oil into his Plymouth in the Pep Boys parking lot. Whannell's
character apparently has the same interior decorator do his apartment:
an underlit, dilapidated shithole. And, just to make sure we all
understand how gritty this movie is, the rich doctor played by
Elwes also lives in a shitty, crumbly, poorly-lit apartment. Glover.
The cop, does too. His precinct needs light too. It gets really
fucking old. I say, give us a little diversity and maybe make
the movie more interesting if you want us to buy its authenticity.
Blood flows as easy
as ant spray at the Tavern, but in a really squeamish, sickening
way. It isn't scary in any fun way, just unpleasant and incessant,
like a four-year old showing you his scab. There is no art to
being gruesome or dingy, really. Anybody with enough money can
make gore and darkness. The art, to me, is doing something with
Elwes and Whannell
do more screaming and whining than you'll hear when menopause
descends upon those awful women who wear purple dresses and red
hats. Neither is a good actor, but Elwes certainly does more over-the-top
hamming. Good God, the guy can't read a line without twisting
his face up, pausing dramatically over every word and then finally
screaming. Whannell wrote the script, so it's amazing how uncomfortable
he looks speaking it's more cheesy lines.
Saw is also
one of those movies where every character is just there to do
what he's told. At one point, Whannell is in his blacked-out apartment
and he knows an intruder is also there. He's freaked out so that
we can be, but, with the front door behind him and the boogeyman
trapped in the closet in front, he chooses not to leave but to
open the closet. What the fuck? Who in their right mind would
do that? Only a shitheaded screenwriter would. In that situation,
most people would have a simple two step plan: 1. crap pants.
2. run like hell out the front door.
The plot moves on bits
this arbitrary. The killer is never revealed purposely so the
movie can have a switcheroo ending. But, meanwhile, it insures
that he's never a character and we can't appreciate or understand
his motive. It just makes the movie feel like we're watching rats
in a maze. Other nonsense includes the part where Glover is able
to solve the crime at just the right moment, and, most bizarrely,
find the hidden bathroom by chasing another pawn of the game to
it. But, give it any thought and you realize there is no fucking
way that pawn could, with a bullet in his leg and panicked out
of his mind, drive all the way across town and know exactly where
the shithole pissroom he's never been to or seen in person is.
It's a shit movie,
fake and disgusting and insulting. Fuck Saw.