Saw (2004)
September 28, 2022 8:28 AM - Subscribe

Photographer Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) and oncologist Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) regain consciousness while chained to pipes at either end of a filthy bathroom. As the two men realize they've been trapped by a sadistic serial killer and must complete his perverse puzzle to live, flashbacks relate the fates of his previous victims.

Also starring Danny Glover, Monica Potter, Ken Leung, Makenzie Vega, Michael Emerson, Shawnee Smith, Dina Meyer, and Tobin Bell.

Directed by James Wan. Written by James Wan and Leigh Whannell.

50% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on FreeVee, Plex, Pluto TV, and Tubi (all free with ads). Also available for digital rental on multiple outlets. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For me, this is a bit like the music of Pearl Jam: kinda good in and of itself, if not precisely my bag, but inspired a large wave of terrible bullshit I can hardly stand, such that I have tended to resent it.

I'm posting this as part of my current project of posting the most popular movies not currently on FF. I'm trying to mix up the genres, but it's tough, because a lot of the biggest name stuff we've skipped is pretty bro-y.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:29 AM on September 28, 2022 [5 favorites]

I've seen most of this series via an ex who was obsessed with em. I hated em but somehow always got caught up trying to follow the nutso "lore" as the series went on. I can hardly stand to watch em, all the noise and gore just yucks me out, which is the point. The first one though as a standalone film is probably the least-bad and closest to coherent of them all.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:39 AM on September 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

I saw this in theaters when 15 or 16? It really messed me up for a few weeks. I haven't seen the sequels, but I still will sometimes check the back seat of my car. The reveal that the killer has been lying on the floor the whole time just blew my mind.
posted by Carillon at 9:54 AM on September 28, 2022

If they'd never come back to this universe, this would be one of the all-time great horror films. As is... yeah, it's too bad that it started this nihilistic franchise whose only message is "Everyone sucks. No, everyone. Oh, that one guy who didn't suck real bad? No that guy sucks too."
posted by Etrigan at 10:05 AM on September 28, 2022 [4 favorites]

This is the best in the franchise but that's not necessarily saying much. I liked it originally but even then I had to overlook a lot of stupid to think this movie is clever or that Jigsaw is anything but a serial killer with extra steps.

One of the "tests" in this film is for a man to kill an in innocent woman and child. Not entirely sure where that fits into Jigsaw's poetic justice.
posted by slimepuppy at 12:15 PM on September 28, 2022

this inspired a couple of Jigsaw-themed things that made me chuckle, so there's that
posted by elkevelvet at 3:13 PM on September 28, 2022

Saw it at TIFF. I found it enjoyable.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 5:45 PM on September 28, 2022

The Lockpicking Lawyer meets Jigsaw.
posted by lharmon at 5:49 PM on September 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

I went into this movie expecting the actual act of sawing to be gratuitous and overdone, but it was (to my very vague memory) pretty much done off camera. And while the movie was pretty bloody, the gore was mostly an Ed Hardy shirt on a clever little puzzle movie.
I noped out after the second one, though. It was cheap and ugly and mean-spirited, and it killed any future interest I had in the franchise.
I sort of kind of want to see a couple of the later ones, but not enough to endure the five movies in between.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:48 PM on September 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

I love this movie and hurts me to see so many disparaging comments. This entire film was shot in a single building in 18 days. If you watch it with director commentary they did so much with what they had.

The subsequent films, aside from 2 which had some redeeming qualities, suck. As do the films inspired by it but hating this movie for that would be as misguided as me hating the Blair Witch Project. I enjoy this movie. I stand by that.

James Wan is responsible for the Insidious franchise, Malignant, and 2 Aquaman films. Leigh Whannel is also in the Insidious franchise.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:21 AM on September 29, 2022 [3 favorites]

I should add this is the movie that got me back into horror after ignoring the genre for several years. It really got me excited to see horror again.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:41 AM on September 29, 2022

I was actually low key hoping someone would convince me I was wrong and that the sequels are good, actually. But it doesn't sound like that is going to happen.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:50 AM on September 29, 2022

The sequels largely suck. The second had a great moment with the needle pit, but aside from that it's clearly not that great. Allegedly the original script was not a Saw film but it was transformed into one which makes me wonder what it could have been if not attached to Saw.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:54 AM on September 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

James Wan is responsible for the Insidious franchise, Malignant, and 2 Aquaman films.

I'm not sure that's the ringing endorsement you think it is ... I mean, the Aquaman films?

Aw, I'm just bustin' yer chops :)

I can see the appeal of this movie; it has some very clever aspects, and yeah, as an example of what you can do with a shoe-string budget and creativity, it is a super-impressive accomplishment -- not to mention the huge box office returns in comparison to what they spent to make it. But, I don't know, Jigsaw's whole twisted morality/pursuit of "poetic justice" or whatever just seemed a wee bit pretentious to me -- like a script written by an undergrad philosophy major who just read Nietzsche but didn't get it at all. (and that's not mentioning the ludicrous proposition that one guy could set all this shit up in his spare time, but whatever, I'll allow it). Also, Cary Elwes is kinda laughably bad in this, especially that accent... And I know it is nit-picky, but at the end I was like, "Dude, just use the saw to reach for the cellphone, it is CLEARLY within range, you can just knock it back towards you, why the fuck are you sawing your foot off you moron?!"
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:34 PM on September 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

On the plus side, we also have James Wan to thank for inspiring Cleaver
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:38 PM on September 29, 2022

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