- How the “SAW” movies beat the predictability of Hollywood
I’ve never been much of a moviegoer, mainly because the majority of the films made these days have a poor (even non-existent) story line, no theme, and use sex and pointless, macho action in a desperate attempt to sell an overall weak movie. Sure, a lot of people think that’s enough. As long as you don’t have to think and you get a shot of a woman’s breasts in the process, most think they’ve found a good deal.
I couldn’t disagree more.
I have my sister to thank for renting Whannell’s first film, Saw, back in March 2005. From the moment I saw (pardon the pun) this film, I knew it was unlike any other I had seen. To say it is well written is an understatement. It’s humorous in a dry sort of way, which probably wasn’t easy considering the overall tone of the film. He managed to create the illusive entertaining movie with a message that doesn’t need excess bulk and garbage to sell.
Another impressive point of this film is the fact that the gore (what little there really is) isn’t senseless the way it is in other films of the same genre. There was a concrete point to every event, which culminated in an ending that left me (and millions more, I’m sure) feeling like something in my own life was amiss and needed to be put into perspective. After shutting off the film and resuming my life as usual, I found it impossible to get the final scene of the film out of my head – Adam screaming for mercy as Jigsaw slams the bathroom door shut, leaving him alone and in the dark. It was that scene that compelled me to watch the film a second time. After all, I believe that if the final scene is one that is so dramatic that it stays with the audience long after the film is over, the writer and director have both done their jobs successfully.
The ending to Saw made it evident that there was going to be a sequel, and to my delight, there was. On October 28, 2005, Saw 2 was released. Naturally, the convention seems to be that sequels rarely measure up to the original, which tends to ruin the appeal of both films. I sat down in the theater in early November, waiting to see if Leigh Whannell would break that convention and prove (to me, at least) that he was the best screenwriter to come along in quite some time.
I was not disappointed.
My heart raced the entire time. I found myself fidgeting in my seat, not wanting the film to end, but wanting to know where all the suspense was leading. I knew there would be a twist at the end, the same way there was a twist in the first, but the thrill stemmed from not being able to guess it, even though the clues were right on the screen.
Watching Saw 2 was an intense visceral experience for me, one that brought me to a better understanding of what a great movie is really all about. The story is the star of the film, and didn’t require sexual overtones, nudity or even widely known celebrities playing the roles. Whannell doesn’t need to sink to that level to sell his work, and for that he should be commended.
So, Whannell’s first two films have been a success. His next film, Silence, is in the post-production stages, and it’s been announced that Leigh will be writing the screenplay for Saw 3. There is little information available about the third installment of Saw, but I’m confident that Leigh won’t disappoint his fans. He can – and will – thrill his fans once again with his wit and creativity.
This is only the beginning for Leigh. Such talent and writing genius are rare qualities, and if you want proof, just look at some of the trash that’s been produced by the Hollywood machine in the past two years. I don’t need to name names. Hollywood is in a rut, and the cure is simple. Writers can learn a lot from Whannel, as he had proven that he knows what a great film is all about.