A Different Kind of Game: Saw (2004)

I’m not a fan of gore.

People are always surprised to hear this, usually after I tell them that horror is my favorite genre. It’s kind of funny because gore and horror go hand-in-hand in a lot of mainstream cases and in a lot of ways it’s part of what makes the genre so great. From campy to hyper realistic, to body and creature gore, there’s something for everyone. But gore has never really been appealing to me in a way that I think it appeals to a lot of horror fans. I like gore if there’s a good reason for it.

Enter the Saw franchise.

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“How much blood would you shed to stay alive?” (blogspot.mrcostumes.com)

Saw was one of those movies that everyone I knew had talked about but I had not seen until it had been out for a few years. I knew the premise- a demented man kidnaps seemingly hapless victims who have lost their way in life and makes them fight to the death to save their own skin…literally.

SEMI SPOILERS AHEAD

Jigsaw, the mastermind behind the twisted games and traps, is dying from cancer and believes everyone should appreciate what they have- even if their circumstances aren’t ideal. It was one of the first films I had seen by James WanInsidious introduced me to a new realm of terror and after that I watched The Conjuring and Dead Silence. The films are magnificent and James Wan really has a way of tapping into some deep-seeded fears that exist within my psyche. 

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But Saw is a different kind of terror, because it traversed the territory of “torture porn” in a way that made me think harder than a typical movie of that genre ever had before. Jigsaw, though masochistic and twisted, had a reason for doing what he did to his victims. He put them between a rock and a hard place because they forgot what it means to be alive, to be a decent human being. Instead of senselessly spree killing a flock of people, he meticulously delves into the lives of each of his victims and tugs at their worst fears in order to bring out their survival instinct. I think one of the reasons why I love this film so much is because the villain and victims are almost one in the same. Everyone has a dark side, but Jigsaw knows how to make us nod our heads in agreement, even if we’re cringing while we do it.

When Gracie and I research and explore the topics of the movies that we talk about on the show, we like to take a look at what’s going on socially at the time the movie was released. Saw came out during a time when suicide and depression was finally breaching the surface and advocates for mental health were starting to destroy the stigma surrounding victims of mental health disorders and addiction. We as a nation were in the beginning stages of really talking about depression, addiction and mental health in a more approachable way and were working on ways to help people solve their problems,

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instead of leaving them in the dark. Saw showed us that there was more going on behind the scenes of a persons life than what we see at face value, but this film took the discussion and blew it out of the water. It was a really in your face approach to the topic, and one that was perfectly suited for the horror genre. And it got people’s attention because of the gore. So horror was making an impact and taking our fears and psychological approaches and turning them into the stuff of nightmares. If you thought that depression, addiction, marital affairs, blackmailing and stalking was scary, Saw proved that your feelings were justified.

  • Abbey Brown

Saw is currently available to watch for free on Amazon.com with your Amazon Prime membership. 

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