Film / Saw

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Saw (2004) is the first film in the Saw horror film series, directed by James Wan and starring Cary Elwes.

The film sees two men, Adam and Lawrence, awakening in a dilapidated bathroom chained by their legs to pipes on the opposite sides of the room, unsure of how they got there. Between them rests the body of a man lying in a pool of his own blood with a gun in his hand. They soon find a series of tapes which tells them that they're in the middle of a game concocted by the infamous Jigsaw Killer, a man who kidnaps victims he deems not appreciating of life and puts them in life-or-death games. Lawrence is ordered to kill Adam before a set time, or else his family will be killed. As the two try to find a way to escape, police are trying to investigate Jigsaw and bring him to justice. However, he turns out be a very tricky and deadly foe.


This film provides examples of:

  • Almighty Janitor: A last-minute subversion in Zep in the original Saw. He is still pretty resourceful all the same.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Despite Jigsaw's claims, the man in Amanda's trap is not dead, but rather very much alive, and he's forced to watch her cut him open to retrieve the key from inside his stomach.
    • Adam's fate at the end is him being trapped and chained in the dark, abandoned bathroom, with no means of escape. Thankfully, Saw III reveals that he is given a Mercy Kill at the hands of Amanda.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Adam's attempt to fool Jigsaw into thinking he was poisoned.
  • Booby Trap: A ceiling-mounted shotgun left behind for the police. One of the few things Jigsaw has ever constructed that fits a rational definition of the word 'trap,' and also may be the only time he has outright murdered somebody despite his claims that he has never killed anyone and despises murderers.
  • Boom, Headshot: The downward-pointing quadruple shotgun that Jigsaw mounts as a tripwire-activated booby trap. Detective Sing is on the receiving end, and the results are not pretty.
  • Broken Tears: Amanda after just narrowly escaping the Reverse Bear Trap.
  • Cameo: Subverted. Tobin Bell shows up for a few seconds as one of Lawrence's patients. Turns out he's behind the whole thing.
  • Darkness Equals Death: For Adam, it happens twice.
    • On the night that he gets abducted, all of the light in his apartment is cut out.
    • Adam is ultimately left to die in the pitch-black bathroom.
  • Dead-Hand Shot/Dead Foot Shot: The first film had posters with one of each.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Zep, who we are lead to believe was Jigsaw, was merely a another victim force to play Jigsaw's games.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: The "dead man" in the middle of the room was the mastermind. Oh yeah, he also happened to be an unconscious one-scene patient of Dr. Gordon's.
  • Door Closes Ending: Jigsaw shutting the bathroom door on Adam.
  • Downer Ending: Adam's only chance to escape was unintentionally lost from the very start, when he drained the key to his chain as he awoke, and he is left to die in the bathroom by Jigsaw. Word of God says this was Amanda's doing, as she purposely tied the chain to Adam's leg and thus doomed him from the start.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first film, while having its moments, is really more of a suspense film than gorn.
  • Electric Torture: Used for various purposes; the chains around Adam's and Lawrence's legs are wired up to conduct current.
  • Extreme Mle Revenge: After being captured, told he must saw off his foot to escape, and subjected to intense psychological torture, Adam screams his head off while bashing in his apparent captor's head with a toilet lid.
  • Foreshadowing: As Lawrence is loading the cartridge into the corpse's revolver to shoot Adam, the camera briefly shows all six chambers of the cylinder to be empty. Revolvers don't eject spent cartridges and yet the guy on the floor was supposed to have shot himself. What looked to be a simple prop error is actually a subtle foreshadowing to the twist ending.
  • Gorn: Subverted to a degree, considering the massive gorefest that the sequels become.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Ironically, the most violent acts in the first film - Lawrence sawing off his own foot and Adam bashing in Zep's skull - aren't even shown, even in the extended cut. Gordon's detached foot and Zep's body aren't actually seen until the end of Saw II.
  • Headbutt of Love: Adam and Lawrence get one at the end of the film, Lawrence using it to help calm down the justifiably hysterical Adam.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Detective Tapp and Zep fire multiple magazines at each other without managing to hit anything. For Zep, this is somewhat understandable, since he's just a hospital orderly. However, Tapp is a detective, who should have multiple hours of marksmanship training in the police force. Though it is somewhat justified that he's been discharged from the force for quite a while and also driven mad. It's further justified by the fact that police officers aren't known for extreme accuracy in the hits-to-misses ratio.
  • Jitter Cam: Downplayed a small bit. Shots of Adam are usually handheld, which mirrors his more fearful character. This allows him to foil Lawrence quite well, since his shots are stable and on a tripod, reflecting his more calm and collected character.
  • Jump Scare: A pig-masked Amanda attacking Adam in his apartment.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Jigsaw provides Adam and Lawrence with two hacksaws to escape with, which they soon realize are not meant to be used on their chains, but on their feet. Gordon manages to cut off his foot and drag himself out of the room, while Adam does not and is locked in by Jigsaw.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: Mark Wilson is stuck in a room covered in flammable oil and slowly being being poisoned. The antidote in a safe with a combination lock, and the combination is on the wall. The problem is, the combination is hidden among thousands of numbers with no way to distinguish the real one. He dies.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: As the film prides itself on prioritizing suspense over gore, this trope is utilized multiple times in the film to brilliant effect.
    • Jigsaw silently crawling out of the back of Lawrence's car.
    • Adam using the split-second flash on his camera to find the intruder in his pitch-black apartment. Just knowing that Adam's not alone and he's bound to get attacked makes for a particularly nail-biting scene topped off with an effective Jump Scare.
    • Detective Sing's death via quadruple-shotgun headshot is framed from the shoulders down. Initially, we're not able to see how damaged his head is, but the amount of blood that splatters everywhere insinuates nothing good.
    • Lawrence sawing off his foot. We see the very start of it, but we mainly infer how bad the situation is from saw-cutting-through-bone sounds and reaction shots of Lawrence and Adam.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Cary Elwes' British accent makes more than a few appearances
  • The Reveal: Zep isn't Jigsaw; the man lying on the ground in the room isn't dead, and HE is Jigsaw.
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat:
    • Lawrence replays the part in his Hannibal Lecture-via tape that he has received from Jigsaw where Jigsaw says that "Allison and Diana will die, and I'll leave you in this room to rot." Turning the volume all the way up allows him to hear the nearly inaudible "follow your heart" clue in the static at the end of the tape.
    • Tapp is shown doing this with a video Jigsaw made, which is about the only piece of evidence he has on the guy.
  • Perverse Puppet: Billy, the doll Jigsaw uses to communicate with his victims.
  • The Scream: Adam at the end of the film once Jigsaw leaves him to die in the bathroom.
  • Sole Survivor: Amanda Young is the only victim who survived a Jigsaw trap.
  • Swallow the Key: Apparently forced on one of Jigsaw's captives, so that another prisoner would be required to cut it out of his body to stop her own rapidly-approaching demise. Contrary to what she'd been told, the key-swallower was not dead when she started cutting.


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