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Live or die. Make your choice. 

Year: 2004 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by James Wan 
Starring: Leigh Whannell, Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Ken Leung  
An image from Saw

Photographer Adam (Whannell) and surgeon Dr. Gordon (Elwes) find themselves at opposite ends of a grimy disused bathroom, chained to the piping with a body lying on the floor between them in a pool of blood. They find tapes containing instructions on how to leave the bathroom with a pulse and soon realise that they are the next victims of a serial killer who has made it his mission to punish those who squander their gift of life. Can they both ever make it out alive?

After seven films, two video games and even a theme park ride it is easy to get blinded by the commercialism that has hit the Saw franchise, and forget the originality of the first instalment. Saw is successful in creating a true horror icon in Jigsaw and his creepy puppet side-kick. The creative use of flashbacks slowly builds up a picture of Jigsaw’s motivations, but enough mystery remains to make for a shocking turn of events in the final moments of the film. The dark sets and use of sped-up sequences make the film all the more unnerving, and Jigsaw’s contraptions and ‘games’ are reminiscent of another haunting film, Seven.

Although Sawisn’t suitable for the faint-hearted, unlike in the sequels gore and violence are not the driving forces of the story. Within the claustrophobic setting of the derelict bathroom, the viewer follows two men through their struggle to survive and sees them develop a bond that will test their ability to play the game by Jigsaw’s rules. Whannell and Elwes are both convincing in their reaction to a frightening situation and despite their flaws, the viewer can empathise with their characters. All in all, Saw is a clever, gory horror film that merits viewing for its great twists, interesting setting and heart-stopping moments. “Let the games begin!”

Julia Huntenburg

Two men wake up handcuffed to pipes on opposite ends of a derelict bathroom.  Between them lies a dead body; a man who's blown his brains out with the gun nestled in his left hand and holding a tape player in his right. Adam (Whannell) and Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Elwes) soon realise that they are pawns in a serial killer's sick game: the aim of the game? For the good doctor to kill Adam in six hours time, or his wife and daughter will be murdered and Adam and he will be left to rot.

From first-time director James Wan comes a refreshingly different kind of horror film after so many tired gore-fests. This film is not perfect, sometimes the acting is average at best, and it's the kind of film you walk away from determined to find holes in the plot, and there are a few. However, it does have some genuinely disturbing moments, and the demented sped up scenes add to a general feeling of distress. It boasts an entirely original concept, despite comparisons to Se7en and no-one will see the twists coming. It's best to see this film with as little prior knowledge of the plot as possible so don't let your friends ruin the end for you. For a low-budget, highly effective new brand of horror shot in just 18 days, this has to be seen.

Hannah Upton

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Spring Term (35mm)
2004/2005 Spring Term (35mm)
2010/2011 Spring Term (35mm)