In honor of its 10th anniversary, Lionsgate is re-releasing Saw. Whether you’ve never seen it or you’ve seen it a lot, you can now experience the horror in cinemas, as opposed to the comfort of your living room.
Made on a modest budget of $1.2 million, Saw epitomizes the term “sleeper hit,” spawning six sequels, two video games and even a roller coaster in Surrey, England.
That last part isn't even a joke. There really is a Saw roller coaster. It’s also the most profitable horror film franchise in history, grossing nearly $416 million worldwide during its six-year reign of terror ($497 million when adjusted for inflation).
Despite mixed to negative critical reception at the time of its release, Saw has stood the test of time, with many fans already calling it a Halloween classic.
For those who haven’t seen Saw, it’s hard to explain the story without giving too much away, but in a nutshell it’s about two men, Lawrence (Cary Elwes) and Adam (Leigh Whannell) who are held hostage by a sadistic serial killer known as Jigsaw, who carefully chooses his victims and forces them to play terrifying “games” ending in certain death.
It was based on a short film Whannell and director James Wan made in 2003, which you can watch here (warning: super-suspenseful!!).
The original Saw has a reputation as one of the bloodiest horror films in history, but that’s a bit of an overstatement. Compared to the sequels, which exist solely to gross the viewers out, Saw is surprisingly tame. There are still nasty graphic images, but they are few and far between. That said, Saw is still a violent and grisly film, and I strongly advise against seeing it if you faint at the sight of blood and guts.
What makes Saw so freaky is the psychological element. Adam and Lawrence are pitted against each other in a nightmare of a situation where no one gets out alive...okay, maybe they do, just one extremity lighter.
At its core, it's a twisted morality tale, a Seven. Jigsaw is dying of cancer, and he finds people who he thinks take life for granted, unleashing unholy havoc on his captives in an effort to make them appreciate life. The film poses some difficult questions you’ll mull over long after the credits roll.
Over the years, horror movies have gotten tons of flack for lacking strong characters and gripping stories. Take last weekend’s laughably bad Ouija—dumb, flat story with dumber, flatter characters. Then again, who’s going to remember Ouija in 10 years? What horror movies need in order to be remembered for years to come is good character and story development. Why else would Lionsgate be re-releasing Saw this Halloween? Because Saw dared to be different in a time when the biggest horror movies were Final Destination and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.0 Strikes Back. Wan and Whannell changed so many horror junkies’ ideas of what gore and psychological torture are truly capable of, adding complex characters and a well-constructed story and rejuvenating what seemed to be an — ahem, dying genre.
You can catch Saw in cinemas for one week after Halloween.