Saw (2004)
By: J.R. McNamara on August 16, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Columbia Tristar (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 98 minutes
The Movie
Director:James Wan
Starring:Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannell, Monica Potter, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Dina Meyer
Screenplay: James Wan, Leigh Whannell
Country: USA
The genesis of Saw came from two young Australian writers trying to overcome the main problem of limited budget independent film-making: an interesting story utilizing a small cast. Sometimes, as in the case of this story by James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the story can be so good that it gains the attention of Hollywood producers. With that kind of interest it's only a matter of time before you get a decent cast, including Cary Elwes (Twister), Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon), Monica Potter (Along Came a Spider) and Shawnee Smith (The Blob) and Whannell himself, and you have a serious movie on your hands.

Two men wake up chained by their legs to pipes on either side of an abandoned men's room. A doctor, Lawrence (Cary Elwes) and a young photographer, Adam (Leigh Whannell) have to sift through a series of clues and lies, to figure out how to get out, but the clock is ticking. As they discuss previous experiences that may have led to their imprisonment, including Lawrence's being pursued by an obsessed ex-cop (Danny Glover) who believes him to be a violent criminal; they slowly start to realize the truth of their terrifying predicament.

The performances from all the actors are impressive, although Leigh Whannell's character has more whine than the entire Hunter Valley, and it tends to become a bit annoying at times. This film is powerful and has many moments where you really cannot begin to guess the outcome. In a time when the average viewer expects twists and turns, it is hard to come up with new ideas, but Wan and Whannell deliver the goods.
This is a real interesting film to watch. Using everything from an Argento-ish palette to CCTV style images, Saw is very nice to look at. It has a sharp image and even treats its 'total darkness' scenes with a nice lighting style.
There are only two choices for sound: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround and 2.0 Dolby Stereo, both in English only. The sounds have great depth to them and each echo lingers and creates a truly spine-chilling atmosphere.
Extra Features
This is a pretty run of the mill collection of small time features. Considering how much publicity this film got, due to its Australian connection, I am surprised there aren't more. This immediately rings alarm bells in the heads of DVD collectors…when is the special edition coming?

Sawed Off: An Inside Peak at the Making of Saw: A really poor attempt at a making of fluff piece. It runs at barely 2 minutes and 30 seconds, showing bits of the film while Wan and Whannell talk about the origins of the script, filming in the USA and the cast. This is a casual bit of fill in that is no where near satisfactory enough, a real slap in the face for fans of the film.

Trailers: Believe it or not, these are not trailers of Saw, but instead trailers of Hitch, Spanglish and Eulogy.

Bite the Hands that Bleeds You by Fear Factory. This is the 'unrated' film clip, which is mixed footage of the film and band. The usual cross promotional stuff.

Making of Fear Factory's Video: This is where the extras get ridiculous. At 4 minutes and 45 seconds, the making of the video run at almost double that of the 'Inside Peek'.

Posters: This is an animated and scored look at the main posters used to promote the film that runs for 3 minutes and 15 seconds.

The poor special features can almost be overlooked by an amusing and entertaining Commentary track. Performed by Wan and Whannel, who's friendship is obvious. It is a combination of informative film making and stand-up comedy. This is a really good non-stop commentary by two film makers who are clearly genre fans.

One thing about this DVD is it is packaging with a reversible cover, one soft and 'Jeepers Creepers' looking, the other the dismembered leg from the original poster.
The Verdict
A really good film let down by a poor extras package. Saw deserves a lot more respect than what it gets from this release. On it's own however, it is certainly worth all of it's hype, make sure you see Saw.
Movie Score
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