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Monday, August 11, 2008

I Finally Saw Saw - Though I Have See-Sawed Before

Though I'm a horror fan (admittedly a fan of reading horror over watching horror movies -- and there is a huge difference, BTW, which I won't get into here for lack of time and necessary space), I don't watch a lot of horror movies. One of the reasons is that Francine doesn't enjoy them all that much and I'd rather watch a movie with her than alone.

I am thus far behind in being "caught up" on relatively recent horror films that have come out.

But this past Saturday evening, Francine was heading out with a group of friends, so I thought I'd give one of the relatively recent movies I've heard a lot about but haven't yet seen a look: Saw.

I didn't know much about the movie, hadn't read anything about it, and only knew it had something to do with a person being chained in a room and given a saw -- apparently one that wasn't good enough to cut through the thick steel chains but would be good enough to cut through flesh and bone.

I was amazingly surprised at how good this movie was.

Based on the hype about it, I was expecting it to be a really violent film involving intense torture. But it was actually an intelligently suspenseful story told in an intriguing way and while certainly violent and disturbing, there was a certain cinematic style to the violence in which it was done in a tasteful yet effective way. I'm always impressed when you don't need to actually see the thing happening -- like in this case, a limb being sawed off -- in order to be fully disturbed, frightened and repulsed. That, in my mind, is the director working hard at creating the mood, setting up the character and scene in such a way that the viewer gets it without having to see the "dumb-show" version of it.

The Jigsaw Killer in this tale reminded me of MOG (Master of Games) in the Richard Laymon novel In The Dark from 1994. (Ten years earlier than this movie's release). In this great novel, a librarian receives an envelope containing a $50 dollar bill and a note instructing her to "look homeward angel" signed by MOG. When she looks into a library copy of Thomas Wolfe's novel Look Homeward Angel, she finds $100 and another note. This note asks her to do something a bit risky and says the dollar value offered if she performs the task will double. So she tries it out. The stakes keep getting higher and the risks keep getting riskier. It's a slippery slope she starts traversing, both intrigued with the clues and determined to find out who is behind them. It's a great story, classic Laymon and has twists similar to the ones pulled off in Saw -- even though the storyline is a lot more straightforward in Laymon's novel. If you liked Saw, you'd likely LOVE In The Dark.

See, I told you I preferred reading horror over watching horror movies . . .

But in any case, I quite enjoyed how Saw was done and am now curious to see the next installment in that film francise (though my experience with popular and successful films that went on to sequels, particularly in the horror genre, hasn't always been that good)

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