Do you remember how, last week, I was commenting that I wanted to see the movie Saw? Well, as luck would have it, it is still in theatres three months after release, making that possible. So I saw it today yesterday.
I am not capable of doing an objective review of anything, and I am certainly not going to try to learn how to be objective, or to review, for the purposes of bitching about this movie. I am also going to spoil every damn ‘twist’ in the movie that was supposed to make it more shocking and amazing. Bear that in mind if you read beyond this paragraph.
I was extremely underwhelmed by the movie. The teasers and previews made it out to be some sort of psychological thriller along the lines of Silence of the Lambs and Seven. While Silence of the Lambs is a pretty high bar to set for a movie, Seven seems a bit more realistic of a goal. Judging a movie is always a bit of a joke anyway, since it depends on the person who reviews it understanding the material, reading the clues (in this case) etc. It is a very subjective thing. The reason that I linked to the other movies through Rotten Tomatoes was to illustrate the point that hundreds of people can watch the same movie and give it glowing praise, albeit for different reasons. Silence of the Lambs stands at 97% positive on their scale, while Seven is only at 85%. Yet, comparing that to the dismal 47% that Saw is sitting at, you can see that the majority opinion really does work (if you have seen the movie I am sure you will agree).
For some reason, though, when people who are not professional critics review the movie they give it pretty high marks. I am going to attribute this to the fact that if you like it you want to rave about it, while if you hate it you just want to forget about it. Thus, people who liked it are far more likely to voice their opinions about it (in the form of a review/recommendation) than people who didn’t like it. It is either that or every major critic is just plain wrong. I have watched a lot of movies that got bashed by the critics, this particular one is a case where I pretty much agree with them. Which, I suppose, puts me into the middle of the critic camp. But, this movie is so deserving of being there…
Spoilers galore start here.
The movie starts with a guy in a bathtub, and drowning. He has no idea where he is, of course, else it would make for a pretty lame thriller. There are two other people in the room, one on the opposite side of the room, the other dead, in a pool of his own blood, with a revolver in one hand and a tape recorder in the other. This is where the movie grabs you and promises greatness. Greatness that is never achieved.
I think that this may be the reason why I really didn’t like the movie very much. The material is great, the killer has a very unique style that leaves open thousands of possibilites for where it can take the viewer. Unfortunately, the movie takes you straight down the freeway, as opposed to taking a side road with lots of twists and turns. Had this screenplay been turned over to someone like Wes Craven or Stephen King, I really think that it could have gone from pretty mundane to outright brilliant.
In any thriller there must be scenes that shock and surprise you. Saw has a couple of moments that shock you (for all the wrong reasons) and a couple of moments of surprise, but they generally just fell flat. There were not a lot of people in the theatre where I watched the film, but still, no one screamed even once, there didn’t seem to be any gasps of horror; I looked to my wife during a couple of the ‘shocking’ parts to find her with her mouth agape…unfortunately, she was yawning (no joke).
In one particular scene there is a flashback of one of the major characters, showing how he was abducted in the first place. He is walking through a tiny apartment, it is totally dark (the power has been cut off) so he is using his camera flash (he is a photographer) as a make-shift flashlight. Of course, he can only use the flash once every few seconds, leaving many, many opportunities for surprise. Instead, he eventually reaches a room where he hears a noise in the closet. He lets his flash charge, then reaches for the knob, opens the door and flashes. The guy was there…Not very startling…Honestly now, with only a camera flash as a light source, being able to use it only once every few seconds, you really should be able to make a little bit more shocking scene than that. In the dark of the house, his vision would be momentarily stunned by the light as well, leaving hundreds of opportunities to actually surprise him/us.
The entire movie is much the same. The times when you should have your heart racing, wondering what is going to happen, where the killer might be, etc. The killer is always in the most obvious place, the only place you would expect him to be. It is very anticlimatic in that respect. Never is there a scene where you are just watching and all of a sudden something makes you gasp or scream. If this is supposed to be a ‘thriller’ or ‘horror’ film, wouldn’t you expect that to happen multiple times? I sure did, but that is why I am ranting about it.
One major plus for the movie is that I did not know who did it until they told me. Most movies of this type (and I can think of only Urban Legend as I sit here) end with me knowing who did it for a good half of the film. I strongly doubt that there is anyone, anywhere, that was actually able to finger the culprit in this one before the final frame of the movie. I am not saying that just because I am mad at myself for not guessing it either, I am saying that because it is/was literally impossible for the perpetrator to be who it ended up being.
A very short time into the movie, they introduce a character who you just know is the guy who did it. He is an intern at a hospital where one of the victims (a doctor) work. The fact that it all points so obviously to him simply excludes him. Later in the movie it actually shows that character (if the movie held my interest, I might remember the names) holding the doctor’s family hostage. This all happens by halfway through it, thus we know that he can not possibly be the guy behind it all.
Then the movie tries to make you think that it was one of the police investigating the crimes that is behind it…It does this even after it has shown that investigator getting knifed by the villain. While that would have been an interesting way for it to go, it is impossible for any person to have two bodies at the same time (well, maybe in porn). One can not be kneeling on the floor in front of one’s self, then turn around and slash one’s (the other one) neck and run away.
So, you must wonder, who really did it. Well the answer is pretty obvious, isn’t it? It was, of course, the dead body that has been laying on the floor in the room with the two victims for the last eight hours. I must admit that this was foreshadowed a bit by showing one of his crimes using a powerful tranquilizer to make someone appear dead, but then I would also have to mention that he somehow actively ‘electrocuted’ both of the guys while he was in that state.
The way that you know that the intern from the hospital had nothing to do with it is because of the electrical shocks (or common sense). If he had the power to kill them from the little room he was sitting in, he would never have gone down to actually shoot them when the time ran out. Not to mention that one of the shocks happened while he was on his way to the area where the victims were confined. Of course, that is where the story all turns into Swiss Cheese with holes, and likely the reason that it ended pretty abruptly right there.
You see, the killer was an older guy in the hospital with some cancer in the frontal lobe of his brain. He seemed to be comatose, yet, his first crime happened at that time, which is why the doctor was a suspect. I am pretty sure that you can fake being asleep, but can you fake having cancer in your brain, being in a coma, having doctors diagnose it, then go ahead and run out to build a huge cage of razor wire while you are at it? If you can then you are a better man than me. Possibly so much a better man that you managed to steal the doctors little flashlight, so that you could leave it at the scene of the crime. All that seems pretty tough to do while you are in a hospital bed. Of course I may just be thinking a tad too realistically.
The real question is: If the mastermind of the plot was really the ‘dead body’ where the main plot happens, and if he was using a tranquilizer to make him appear dead, how did he manage to 1)suppress bodily functions for that amount of time? 2)Shock both of the victims at random, while both of his hands were clearly visible? 3)Get both of the guys into that room before taking the tranquilizer (as one mentioned that he had tried screaming, to no effect. And the other woke up drowning in a bathtub. Making me think that the first guy had been there for a while before the second guy got there). 4)All of this is not even touching on how the guy that was in a coma, in the hospital, was able to get out to conduct the first couple of crimes, let alone set up a little media center in an abondoned building. Which leads nicely into 5)How can you possibly get the electric company to supply power to an abandoned building in the first place? -I had to show two forms of ID and have a home inspection before they turned on the power at my house-.
Now just a couple of technical fubars. The cell phone that the doctor finds appears to be exactly the same phone that he had when he was abducted. He is a doctor, lots of people are likely trying to call him, what if someone other than the killer calls? Towards the end of the movie, the doctor is not able to reach his cell phone, it is just out of his reach. He tries using a small box to retrieve it, can’t reach. Then he grabs a hacksaw (average length about 16″), which has a handy loop at the end of it, and proceeds to chop off his own foot, hmm, perhaps the hacksaw could have reached the phone?
I really thought that I was going to like this movie. I likely would have liked this movie if it had lived up to its potential. My wife told me that the story was written by some ‘no-name’ and was later picked up by an actual production company, that is great and all, but someone along the line should have said; “you know, it is decent as is. We could get a real producer in here and make it great.” Which, obviously, never happened. My guess is that this one will get remade in a decade or so, and it will be absolutely brilliant.
This movie is absolute proof that a good idea/story does not necessarily lead to a good movie.
Wow, I didn’t realize just how badly I hated this movie. Die, Saw, Die!