The Entire Saw Saga: Make Your Choice
WARNING: May contain some spoilers for those who haven’t seen all the films
Yup, I'm crazy. I'm going to post this next review/overview about the entire Saw series, right up to the recent 3D movie. Why would I waste some of my Sat doing this? Because I can my readers. And I bring the madness to you.
The Saw series has become a cult phenomenon over the recent years, starting with the first movie in 2004. Since then, there have been 7 moves to date, with other forms of media perpetuating the franchise. Like for instance, a Saw video game. From what I hear it sucked, but I haven't played it myself. So I won't knock it until I try it. Unlike so many serial killer-slasher type movies, this series has its own unique flavour it brings to viewing audiences. Some have called it Torture Porn, a label given to a sub genre of extremely violent films that have come out in the recent years. Some might say Saw was the first to have that label stamped unceremoniously on them.
But I’m here to tell you, I have seen the way of Jigsaw, and it’s more than just gore and guts. I see what he sees. Partly because I like puzzles, but mostly because he's got a fucking point. Most people, need a bitch-slap in this world to wake them up. Sadly, only in the movies, and horror movies more often than not, do we ever see people getting there comeuppance for doing shitty things to each other.
Sure, I’ll be the first to tell you it is a very gory, brutal series. And if you don’t have the stomach I do, you will not be able to sit through it to see the layers. I did an entire marathon of this series with my friend, then re-watched it with my husband who hadn't seen it. That's how much I love the series. Because it’s not Halloween or Friday the 13th level violence. While they are also fun movies and have left a mark on my childhood (Halloween being my first taste of horror and the reason I am the freak I have become) Saw goes one step further. The deadly, ingenious devices these victims get strapped into will and do kill people. And you see it in grisly detail. Part of the point is you see it.
Even I was under the impression that Saw was all about the killing when I first sat down to watch the films. I was so wrong. The label it’s been given of Torture Porn leads people to believe there is nothing else to the series. Just a bunch of mindless killing and neat traps. Some have criticized that it’s just about getting off on people’s misery and nothing else. And I have seen many movies that have been also classified as Torture Porn, like for example Hostel and Captivity. There does seem to be a trend for these kinds of films. But Saw is much more thoughtful than these films. There is a philosophy in Saw. The messages go so much deeper, where these other films seem to fall sort and only give you a shallow message so they can get to the killing. Saw is literally about puzzles within puzzles. It's about the insane mind of a man pushed to the edge and his legacy of revenge and pain he leaves behind. It is a movie about a killer named Jigsaw after all. And I am glad that name is not used in vain. These movies are like ongoing, crime drama soaps with violence thrown into the mix, which takes you for a dark ride into the human condition. Sure, the level of violence is more than say shows like CSI, but I still think the thought put into them is on par with shows like that. I’ve seen all 7 to date, and I can tell you it’s an ongoing story, each movie not really ending the tale. Just when the next one begins and you get answers to your questions, it ends leaving you with more to ponder. I'm not watching Days of Our Lives or anything stupid like that. I'm watching a mad man's plan for getting revenge work itself out. It's wicked! None of that soap opera stupid shit of, "I fucked your mother/uncle/cat and now she/he/it is gone and I wonder if said being is in a dumpster somewhere because they got really drunk when they realized I was rich and not just hawt."
Saw is more classy than that. Honestly.
And there are so many layers of messages in this series. Of course there is the main one of survival that started in the first. How far will people go to survive an ordeal? How much will they sacrifice? People faced with life or death situations will do crazy things, sometimes even stupid things to get out of it. Many times I found myself yelling at the screen because people would not listen to the rules, when clearly they had no other option but to. Part of the fun is that I think. When Detective Matthews wants to die on that ice block I laughed ironically, because I felt bad for the shmoe. He was just so done with all the games at that point that he didn’t care there was another guy tied to the same device he was.
Another message I find highly intriguing is the one of justice. All of Jigsaw’s victims are chosen because they need to be rehabilitated. It’s not about killing them at all. Even though Jigsaw is an evil mastermind capable of reading people, he knows there is always a chance that his predictions might be wrong, that people may in fact survive (as Amanda, the junkie from the first film proves) and become reborn. What they are reborn as is anyone’s guess. Most become students of Jigsaw. Throughout the series, we find more and more people get recruited to the cause. It’s because of the methods Jigsaw uses. He makes people face themselves and their death, and in that moment, their psyches are re-written. Trauma can do that to people. Sometimes I couldn’t help but think what Jigsaw was doing was a public service, but that was my dark self talking. The point for the viewer really is to question their own moralities, and that of those in his traps. As the victim is being tested, so is the viewer, each and every time.
And I can’t help but ask myself how evil Jigsaw is really. I guess one could call him a kind of lawful evil. While he doesn’t follow society’s rules to the letter of law, he follows a “higher” law in his mind. His purpose is the only time we see him with real emotion, other than when he’s with his X wife. The purpose he serves is quite frankly to make people face themselves and change. If they don’t change, they die. He doesn’t think of himself as a murder, and says so many times. He despises murders. In his mind, he thinks he is teaching people. That they choose their death, and he just gives them the choices he feels they need to wake up.
I also think Tobin Bell is an amazing actor. His portrayal of Jigsaw is deeply moving. The guy does creepy well. And I know I couldn't help but really feel for his plight.
Even though by the third movie Jigsaw dies of cancer, his legacy continues on. His messages keep going. I think the most potent messages of the series are in the fourth and sixth movie. Number five in my opinion was a filler piece that needed more thought put into it. While it tied up a few questions, had a few neat kills, it lacked some of the passion the others had. I am happy to say Saw 6 brings that passion back. I even loved some of the devices and puzzles in this one even more than some of the others I’ve seen. Maybe it was watching it on a big screen. Something about seeing them on the big screen is just more powerful and fun if you’re into these kinds of films. Having people cheer after the first death scene was wicked. And one of the main messages I feel of Saw 6 was that the dead can still hurt you. One of the creepiest lines delivered is all about this message. (When you hear the line, you’ll know what I mean) That and the value of human life. Can you judge who should live and who should die? And if you do are you ready to take the consequences of that choice? Because Jigsaw is after all willing to give you choices.
Of course, Saw 3D was the closer for the series, and some of the kills were interesting, but the only real redeeming thing that it had going for it was the ending. I loved the fucking ending. It tied everything together so beautifully. It was worth it for me, the loyal fan that stuck through the franchise even when it was loosing it's luster. Because the ending was AWESOME! I turned to my husband and said ecstatically, "OH YEAH THEY TOTALLY DID IT! RIGHT ON!" And we gave each other high fives. If you watch the last one, and you see what I mean, just picture me high fiveing you. I totally called it.