8 July 2013

Wanna Play A Game?



Anybody who read last week’s blog will be aware that I have recently seen Furious 6 for the first time and loved it a little too much. After seven days of intense medical investigations though, there is apparently nothing newly wrong with the contents of my head, meaning my enthusiasm for a film which is obviously a pile of shit still cannot be explained. Both Fast 5 and Furious 6 were directed by a chap named Justin Lin who is either a full on intellect or the most human-looking vegetable to ever step behind a camera. For anybody who missed last week’s waffling, the conclusion was that these two films are so inventive and shocking in their stupidity that there's a very small chance that they were made by a genius. Sadly though, Lin will not be involved in Fast and Furious 7 meaning the directing duties have fallen to somebody else. I guess he's either too busy using his mind to solve our world’s biggest problems or more likely has had his life support machine turned off after so long without any sign of brain activity. Whatever the reason is though, the future of this enjoyably retarded franchise now rests on the shoulders of director James Wan. I therefore decided to refresh myself with his work and re-watch his breakthrough film, Saw.

The rest of this blog will be mostly nothing to do with The Fast and The Furious franchise and so I'll confess to the tenuous link between that intro and everything that's about to follow. But at the same time, fuck it! I can't help but take any opportunity to bang on about that shitty film series. Oh and The Rock, I didn't even mention The Rock... Argh God, I need to focus... Ignore the distractions. Must crack on!

So- Saw opens with two strangers chained up in a bathroom, unaware of how they got there and with a dead body lying between them. Although my initial assumption would be a smack party with Charlie Sheen, it turns out that something only slightly more sinister may be taking place. A murderous psychopath is keeping them locked up and forcing them to perform gruelling tasks in exchange for their lives. It's kind of like a more adult version of the kids’ game show Fun House but instead of sliding into gunge, you have to rip up somebody’s intestines before you get your head snapped off. As the film progresses, we learn that the orchestrator of this violent ordeal is some mysterious nutcase known only as 'The Jigsaw'. I guess 'Jigsaw” isn't the best alias for a serial killer but if you're going to name yourself after a puzzle it's probably more intimidating than either 'Jenga', 'Boggle' or 'Kerplunk'. 

Murtaugh finally hears the 'sugar tit's rant...
At the same time as all this is going on, Jigsaw is also being hunted by a slightly deranged Danny Glover. In many ways, this film could be seen as a sequel to the Lethal Weapon franchise with Glover again playing a reliable detective who’s just a bit too old for this shit. In this film, Murtaugh may come across as a little on the mental side but let’s face it- that's probably just a side effect of spending too much time with Mad Mel Gibson. In regards to what Glover is hunting our villain for though, the very obvious answer is ‘murder’. A friend of mine once told me that the clever thing about Saw is in how the bad guy isn't actually a serial-killer because he gets his victims to kill themselves instead. Well clearly that's a load of shit isn't it, as he is very definitely guilty of some sort of homicide. If I died of blood loss after being stripped naked and forced to crawl through a maze of razor blades then I'd be seriously pissed off if it was then declared that I was a victim of suicide.

As the two trapped men try to think their way out of their situation, we're treated to several flashbacks that provide a little context. I should point out that things are about to get a little spoilerific so newbies might want to leave now. Although considering the film is almost ten years old, I'm guessing you've probably either already seen it or are just at a point where you really couldn't give a toss. Anyway, so of the two men trapped in the bathroom, one is a photographer and the other a doctor who is cheating on his wife. Apparently the reason they've both been chosen for this is as a punishment for not valuing their lives. Although considering the doctor has a loving family and a fuckbuddy on the side, I'd say he was enjoying his existence as much as is probably possible. The theory behind this sadistic game being that if they sum up enough will power to endure and survive all the horrendous traps, then afterwards they'll have a new found appreciation of life. It's kind of like that bit in Fight Club in which Tyler Durden pulls a gun on a store clerk and encourages him to become a veterinarian but stretched out over about ninety minutes. Generally when we see suffering, we do our best to help the situation improve. This philosophy of making things significantly worse before then just restoring the original grimness would certainly make charities such as Aid For Africa an interestingly different organisation.

However Fight Club in fact may not be the only film directed by Fincher that Saw shares similarities with. Se7en also seems to have been a direct influence too with both movies featuring a sadistic but intelligent killer who punishes his victims in ways that are supposed to mirror their sins. Contrary to what the franchise may have become, I think Saw is more of a thriller than a horror and despite the sequels, I actually do enjoy this film. It's suitably grim, interestingly structured and has an enjoyable twist at the end. Again, spoiler alert, but... as it turns out, the dead guy between the two chained up victims was actually Jigsaw all along who for some reason was just having a bit of a mong-out down there. Considering that all he had to do was lie down on a bathroom floor for the entire duration this must have been the easiest acting role of Tobin Bells life and was presumably written with a pissed up David Hasselhoff in mind.

Despite churning out about three hundred sequels, I have only ever seen the first two Saw films. From what I hear though, the franchise became increasingly more convoluted and dumb by quickly descending into that crappy fad known as 'torture porn'. For anyone unaware other examples of 'torture porn', might be Hostel, Final Destination and One Night In Paris. The difference between Saw and Saw 2 though would be in that with the first, you wonder how the characters will survive and with the second you wonder how they will die. Could I escape from being chained up in a bathroom? Maybe. Could I hack up my own eye to remove a key that will prevent my head from exploding? Not a fucking chance! Anybody who seriously believes that Jigsaw isn't a serial-killer is clearly a fucking idiot.  

"Where's me tickling stick?!"
As a film on its own though, I think the first is pretty good. Sure it's reputation has been a bit screwed by the shitty sequels, but perhaps it's not alone here. There's about a trillion entries in the Halloween Franchise but that doesn't mean John Carpenter's 1978 original should be considered any less of a masterpiece. Not that I'm saying Saw is a masterpiece although it does deserves some credit for adding a few memorable creations to the genre. There's a creepy puppet thing that looks like an albino Ken Dodd and a sinister Jackie Stallone/Pig Mask that have both since become very minor icons over the last decade. I do question the believability of some of the traps constructed by a man we're told is dying of cancer though. When my Granddad was dying of emphysema, he spent most of his days watching daytime TV and moaning. This fucker though has spent what looks like years building an S & M wank-dungeon of joy. Still it's all good fun and nastily inventive, so for this first film at least, I'll go with it.

So yeah- I guess I'll be interested to see exactly what director James Wan does with Fast and Furious 7. The acting isn't overly brilliant here, which is a good start. Everything is okay in the beginning but the moment that actor Cary Elwes chops off his own foot, the rage he conveys is a bit too much like a grumpy old man whose just noticed some kids on his porch. There's also a fucking awful car chase that, although was clearly done on a budget, is ridiculous looking enough that it shows the lack of promise that I'm after. So yeah, Saw is pretty good and although not nearly as amazing/shite as Furious 6, I think I'll still stand by my claim that the seventh instalment will be the greatest film of all time.

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