Friday, September 9, 2016

Directorial Debut: James Wan's SAW

Welcome to a new installment of DIRECTORIAL DEBUTS, where we look at some of the best, most interesting, and iconic directors and the films that started their careers. This week we take a look at the film that started off the career of James Wan, the modern master of suspense and horror...SAW.

The film opens with two men who have seemingly never met or had anyninteraction before being locked in some sort of abandoned-looking bathroom. The two are each chained to a pipe on opposite sides of the room, and a man lies dead on the floor. The two men, Adam (Leigh Whannel) and Doctor Gordon (Cary Elwes), must weave their way through a rat maze filled with turns, surprises, and of course gruesome bloody murder.

Saw is a wonderfully told piece of cinema. The following films in the series fall much shorter than the first, and none of them come even remotely close to the masterpiece that is Saw. The first Saw has one elephant sized element that places it above the rest, a remaining mystery. With the other Saw movies, they become more about gore and the traps and a more of "how gross can we get without making people throw up" style of horror movie. The first one actually holds some incredible film making elements. Visually, the film is nothing extravagant, and I give Wan the benefit of the doubt. As his career has gone on he has become much more visually involved, giving a sinister visual feeling to his films. Saw is very basic and straight forward visually. The production design does not stick out in anyway, nor does the costume design. But this point proves why story will always be the core interesting element of any film.

What makes Saw unique is the story, and the way it is told. Leigh Whannel has easily become one of my favorite screenwriters over the past few years because of how he chooses to write and tell the stories. Saw's story is almost told in a Tarantino or Nolan style. We don't go front to back, we go middle, front, back, front, middle, back again and it completely works and keeps us interested for the duration of the film. The story is the core of every film, and Saw's is one of the best we have ever seen.

This is such a wonderful first film, and honestly it sits up there with films like American Beauty, Hunger, and Reservoir Dogs as debuts. Saw has an immaculate story, with wonderful and incredibly well delivered performances from both Whannel and Elwes. The directing feels not amateurish at all, but professional. Which is the exact vibe James Wan has continued for his entire career. Wan is slowly rising to the status of the next Wes Craven or John Carpenter.

Joshua's Score: 10/10

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