I think the worst thing that can happen to anyone who truly loves movies is to become a film critic. In a darkened theater you can, at least for a few hours, escape the reality of your life. The moment you take pen to paper to review a film though, you suddenly become not a fan, but a critical essayist whose main concern is to tear apart what others have wrought. There is nothing worse than a journalist who believes he is better than the very thing which he is charged with covering. When you can’t go into a theater and suspend disbelief for two hours, you really should stop going to the movies.
I’ve read more than a few reviews of Saw, a film directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Wannell. A good many of them, the reviews I mean, try too hard to impress the reader rather than explain what exactly is wrong, or for that matter right, with the film. I can say with absolute certainty that I would suck as a film critic and not because I lack an understanding of the medium. No, I would fail because I wouldn’t spend much time harping on which films the director ripped off, but focus more on what works and what doesn’t work with a given film.
Saw is one of those films you either get and enjoy or don’t get and shouldn’t even be in the theater watching. Wan and Wannell don’t break any new ground, but I don’t think that is the point. Few stories are completely original and Saw doesn’t have to be for the story to resonate with fans of the genre.
What works in Saw is that moody, dark sense of foreboding one would expect in a horror film is replaced instead with witty, sharp dialog that elicits the nervous laughter of someone who has just witnessed an accident and only a fraction of a second separated the viewer from being a victim.
The Red Queen and I just missed catching Saw at Sundance (it was sold prior to screening and subsequently pulled from the schedule). Of course, this did more to whet my appetite than kill it and I’ve been waiting patiently ever since for this films release.
Does this film have holes in it? Yeah, big ones but most moviegoers won’t notice until they’ve left the building. I’ve read some reviewers claim that the killer’s motives weren’t clear to which I say, since when does murder make sense. If you’re of the mindset that goes into a mystery trying to guess whodunit, you’ll find enough standard clues that will lead you to whats really going on long before the credits roll. If you’re the kind of person that hates a film when it forces you to think for yourself, you’ll be sorely disappointed by Saw.