Top Horror Films – #12 – Saw

2004; directed by James Wan; screenplay by Leigh Whannell; story by James Wan and Leigh Whannell

Mike: Saw is in my top 5 favorite movies of all time. It’s wonderfully clever while remaining incredibly suspenseful and terrifying at the same time. This first great movie began a series which would slowly delude itself into something which it was not before. While the current sequels are reminiscent of the formula for modern day horror (lots of blood+no plot), I would argue that the first of these movies displays suspense tactics similar to Hitchcock. The situations that characters are put in and the non-linear way in which the plotline is executed leaves you on the edge of your seat while watching this film. With wonderful performances by Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, and Michael Emerson, this film begins the mythology of one of the only great horror icons to come out of the last ten years. Once all is said and done, I believe that Jigsaw has earned a place next to the classics like Jason and Freddy.

Mark: It’s not the level of gore in Saw that’s the source of its quality. It’s noticeably understated compared to the ridiculous contraptions of the later films. Instead, it lies in the stripped down setting, the artfully crafted narrative and the emotional intensity generated by the situation and the performances. The film asks uncomfortable questions about our actions and what the results could (and should) be. These questions fall away at some point in the later films—for me, Saw IV marks a change—but the original is still shocking and probing.

Team Rankings:
Mike – #1
Chad – #9
Mark – #9
Spencer – #17


Brandi is one of those people who worries about kids these days not appreciating black and white films. She also admires great moments of subtlety, since she has no idea how to be subtle herself.

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