Directed by: James Wan
Premise: A serial killer sets up two men in an elaborate puzzle that can only be solved if one of the men kills the other.
What Works: From start to finish this is a very tight thriller. Its story construction works very well, establishing the conflict right away and then flipping between the back story and the main plotline. The film is shot in a dark, gritty style that gives it a lot of character.
What Doesn’t: Saw moves along so fast that actual character depth does not come until the very end. However the ambiguity of the characters adds to the suspense and pays off in the last act.
Bottom Line: Saw mixes the storytelling craft of Hitchcock, the visceral nature of films by Mario Bava, and the look of contemporary thrillers like Se7en. It’s very frightening but also very smart and a great new entry in the horror genre.
Episode: #26 (November 7, 2004)