A gritty and suspenseful horror masterpiece that inaugurated an entire successful franchise, "Saw" has a bit of everything for everyone: edge of the seat tension, cerebral manipulation, twists and turns, and plenty of plain old gore. The premise and plot are simple, and with a surprise ending. Two men, Adam and Lawrence, are chained in a rundown underground bathroom. With microcassette recorders, each are given instructions on how to escape. Here's where the real fun begins. Adam's instructions are to escape the bathroom; Lawrence's instructions are to kill Adam before a certain time in order to prevent the murder of Lawrence's family. Following clues, Adam locates a bag in a toilet, the bag containing two hacksaws. The two men quickly discover the hacksaws are not meant for their chains, but for their limbs. A corpse lays on the bathroom floor between them, a constant foreshadow of future events.

Back at Lawrence's house, his wife and daughter are held captive by Zep, an orderly at the hospital where Lawrence is an oncologist. Meanwhile, Adam (a photographer) has been secretly stalking Lawrence, taking photos of him. An obsessed detective, Tapp, played by Danny Glover, has been dismissed from the force and is now obsessed with Lawrence also. Having previously discovered one of the doctor's penlights at a Jigsaw "game" scene, Tapp is convinced of the doctor's guilt. A photo depicting Zep in Lawrence's house reveals Zep is the perpetrator holding Lawrence's wife and daughter captive. But Zepp isn't the Jigsaw Killer. Neither is Tapp. And Adam is no guiltier than anyone else, though Lawrence thinks he is, just as Tapp thinks Lawrence is. Confusing? That's exactly the point. The confusion and interweaving subplots give rise to greater suspense, packing the ending with over the top power.

It's never explained how both men came to be in this predicament, though early on it is established that the notorious Jigsaw Killer is responsible. He is a demented and sadistic serial killer with a penchant for crafting real life games that end in excised limbs, blood, and lots of confusion in his wake. He is also a lot closer to everyone than they can imagine.

In keeping with 70's slasher films that have spawned innumerable sequels, "Saw" introduces a villain elusive as he is ingenious. So much so, he easily wins audience allegiance, the manner in which he reveals himself in the final scene nothing short of victorious

| 2004 | 1 hr 43 min | 7.7/10
James Wan

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