9.    Saw (2004, James Wan)

Looking back I’ll admit I was wrong to bash the Saw series, even though I still don’t have a great interest in watching all of them. From what I hear after the third or forth entry things start to really go downhill, which is a shame because based on what I have heard/read the mythology of Jigsaw is fascinating. This is a man who plans elaborate traps for his victims, and yet in the end gives them a choice: life or death. You feel sorry for his victims even though they are people who if they had chosen a better path more than likely would have not ended up in Jigsaw’s warehouse, forced to struggle for their own survival. Also those affected by Jigsaw who are not among his participants feel the after effects of his work, as showcased by Danny Glover’s haunted and obsessed police detective who frantically searches for Jigsaw, his life reduced to desiring retribution. That is no way to live, either, although based on what happened to Glover’s character you feel sorry for him as well.

Oh and this movie is absolutely brutal in ways that did actually shock me. I didn’t expect a certain famously spoofed moment to be so jarring and horrifying to watch, and this is coming from someone who has viewed many gory horror movies over the past decade. I’m rather amused that the sequels feature way more carnage and yet its the limited blood and violence that happens in this movie that felt unreal and disturbing to me. Even though I knew the twist when it happened I still felt its full power: Saw is a movie that does not deserve the silly “Torture Porn” label that I now hate and really never should have ever used, either. “Do you want to play a game?” is a chilling question that resonates long after the final haunting scene.