What's first troubling about this sucker is the audacity of its title. "Huh? What's so highfalutin' about Saw?" Well, it brazenly cribs the affectionate, nay, reverential shorthand used by fans of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, that's what!!! Forever until this interloper blinks from our collective memory, as it eventually shall, gigundous question marks will form over the heads of those within earshot of anyone saying: "Saw friggin' rules, man! Wooooooooo!!!" Did they mean the Tobe Hooper classick or does this person suffer from a lapse in cinematic judgment? That's why this new film shall hereforth be known to CineSchlockers as Jigsaw.
That being a reconstructed reference to the flick's omnipresent boogeydude -- The Jigsaw Killer. Ah, some sort of nutzoid carpentry enthusiast? No, he's called that because he once took a jigsaw-puzzle-shaped souvenir from the flesh of a victim. Isn't that neato? Never mind that the same poor sap was left to scurry through a basement spider-web'd with razorwire in nothing but boxers. Come to think of it, Jigsaw's also an apt description of the movie itself, which jostles a jumble of plot points hither and yon before finally jackhammering them -- red herrings and all -- into position for what's supposed to be a Keyser Soze-style kick to the groin.
In another form of racking, what CineSchlockers will probably most bruise their brainpans over is just WHY the devil ol' Jigsaw goes to so much goldang trouble to meticulously conceive comically complex means for victims to Kevorkian themselves? To better appreciate L-I-F-E!?! Couldn't he just send them a nice Hallmark card featuring frolicking puppies or perhaps a sun-drenched seascape? Don't be absurd! Clearly a more life-affirming tact is to drug a couple fellas, chain their ankles to pipes in the skeeziest bathroom from David Fincher's brother's cousin's daydreams and tell 'em through cryptic microcassette recordings and cellphone quizmastering how one is to free himself (the icky way!) and then splatter the cerebrum of the other if he ever wants to see his wife and daughter alive again. Princess Bride swashbuckler Cary Elwes and Jigsaw screenwriter Leigh Whannell are the two serving simultaneous latrine and firing squad duty. Leaving Danny Glover to skate through as the genre's requisite obsessed cop. But beware of paying too close attention to the gravelly orations of our holier than thou death dealer as he's certainly a longtime CineSchlocker fave. Not that knowing his identity lessens the "What the -- !?!" factor of the preceeding hour and a half. Though, similar to Alien vs. Predator, there's somehow still three stars worth of not-so-easily quantifiable entertainment value zigzagging across the screen. Maybe it's partially because we don't often see serial killers with passions for both puppetry AND dioramas!
No breasts. Seven corpses. Puking. Rampant spazzing. Puppet pummeling. Charbroiled chump. Peeping. Mach-speed car chase. Scattergun scatterbraining. Fewer amputations than you'd think. Gratuitous "This Little Piggy" game. Throat slashing. Ill-advised use of power drills. Ol' boogeyman-in-the-closet gag (Twice!) Gratuitous wall o' newspaper clippings. Seems Mr. Whannell hogged all the snarkiest lines: "My name is Very F@#&ing Confused, what's your name? / This is the most fun I've had without lubricant. / I don't care if you covered yourself in peanut butter and had a 15-hooker gang bang!" But let's not forget our permanent party pooper: "Most people are so ungrateful to be alive -- not you -- not anymore."
At the end of the commentary, Leigh, just after all-too-briefly mimicking Mr. Elwes, suggests knocking back a stout shot each time director James Wan whines "We only had 18 days to shoot this!" Surely wish he'd suggested that sooner as the obnoxiously dizzy track is clearly the product of the same spastic hamsters responsible for the flick's penchant for seizure-inducing editing hysterics. Ritalin! Stat!!!
2004, 100 mins, 1.85:1 anam, DD 5.1 EX & DTS 6.1 ES, Commentary, Micro-featurette, Fear Factory music videos with brief "making of" footage, Poster gallery, TV spots and Trailers. Note: To showcase DVD saw blade, clear case is slipcovered by plastic sleeve bearing additional artwork and all disc info.
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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.