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:: Saw

Former RMIT students in Melbourne, James Wan and Leigh Whannell, cleverly build suspense in their chilling debut film, Saw. Saw is both a horror and the best psychological thriller since Seven. It is imaginative and has a similar grisly theme to Seven, though it’s not by any means a clone.

Adam, played by writer Leigh Whannell, awakes from a drug-induced slumber to find himself chained in the bathroom of some abandoned industrial site. He has no memory of how he got there and he is not alone. Another man, Dr Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) has woken to the same confusion on the other side of the room. Between them, a corpse lies in a pool of blood, a gun in one hand, a tape recorder in the other– an earlier victim.

Each finds an audiotape in his pocket that gives him instructions. Over the next eight hours, they must find a way to kill each other. If they fail to meet the deadline, they will die and Lawrence’s family will be killed. When they find two hacksaws, their hopes begin to lift but the flimsy blades won’t cut their chains. With horror, Lawrence realises it is all for the amusement of their tormentor; “He wants us to cut through our feet!”

Lawrence is reminded of a serial killer known as “Jigsaw” who devises horrible scenarios of self-torture for his victims. They know they will have to be clever to beat him at his own sick game. As in Seven, this morally self-righteous psychopath carefully selects his prey and plans well in advance.

Leigh Whannell and James Wan wrote this story together after finishing university. They filmed a short but thrilling scene from their script and sent it to various studios in the States. Their clip stood out from the crowd, and convinced producers not only to make the film, but also that Leigh should star and James should direct. They shot Saw in only eighteen days, but somehow the raw, low budget feel only adds to its threatening tone.

This is a film where things leap out of the shadows. It is overstated, like a child’s nightmare but with subtle tricks and twists threaded through. Saw is fascinating film, absolutely disturbing, and surprising to the very end.