Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What's Really Scary About "Saw" (2004)

Ten years ago, a film blew the horror genre up, changing the way horror and suspense are done. Many—including this viewer—would say destroying it in the process. But, however much “Saw” (and “Cabin Fever”) inaugurated torture porn, it is not as gruesome as its reputation would have you believe. (One imagines the subsequent films majored on gore instead of story.) It is a slightly involving mystery/puzzle that almost manages to engage.

Where it really offends is in the message it delivers.

The “inspiring” message of Saw is that people take their lives too much for granted. The puzzle maker in the film places people into a life or death situation where they have to fight—doing things they would normally find impossible—in order to live. If they succeed (often killing others in the process) and live, the idea is that they will appreciate life.

This is supposed to be a positive message in some sick twisted understanding of the world. And the most disturbing thing is that it has seemed to strike a chord over the past ten years.

The more inspiring message that other franchises and age-old stories have told (and that reflects the Biblical message) is that a true appreciation of life is found in those who do not hold onto it too strongly, in those who are willing to sacrifice themselves for others, in those who do not fear death in a way where they can be controlled and manipulated by evil.

Torture porn sees more inspiration in the evil side of things. That is the truly disturbing side of “Saw.”

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