Saw (film series)

SAW (18)
D: James Wan
Lionsgate (Oren Koules, Mark Burg & Gregg Hoffman)
US 2004
103 mins

Horror/Thriller

W: Leigh Wannell
DP: David Armstrong 
Ed: Kevin Greutert
Mus: Charlie Clouser

Cary Elwes (Dr. Lawrence Gordon); Leigh Whannell (Adam Stanheight); Danny Glover (David Tapp), Monica Potter (Alison Gordon), Tobin Bell (John Kramer)

The first of a series of films which gave birth to a new genre of "gore porn" movies, featuring sadistic, grizzly and violent deaths at the hands of a serial killer who goes by the name of the Jigsaw Killer.
This first film is a convuluted horror-thriller about two strangers who wake chained to each other in Jigsaw's lair, where they attempt to piece together clues on a tape recorder as to why they abducted and by whom.  Meanwhile, a detective tries to track down the killer before the two men become the next in a long list of victims.
The twisted sadism doesn't make this film a comfortable watch, but it's quite possibly the most inventive addition to the genre since 1995's Seven (qv), featuring a number of rather ingenious deathtraps and incredibly unpleasant situations. 
All the production values are very decent, from dingy dungeons to the visceral direction and camerawork.  Unfortunately, Cary Elwes was a very poor choice for the lead.
A number of sequels followed almost immediately, all of varying quality.
6/10

Cary Elwes in Saw
Cary Elwes in Saw

There will be blood
There will be blood
SAW II (18)
D: Darren Lynn Bousman
Lionsgate (Oren Koules, Mark Burg & Gregg Hoffman)
US/Canada 2005
93 mins

Horror/Thriller

W: Leigh Wannell & Darrell Lynn Bousman
DP: David Armstrong 
Ed: Kevin Greutert
Mus: Charlie Clouser

Donnie Wahlberg (Det. Eric Matthews), Franky G (Xavier Matthews), Glenn Plummer (Jonas Singer), Erik Knudsen (Daniel Matthews), Shawnee Smith (Amanda Young), Tobin Bell (John Kramer)

The same formula of a number of people overcoming violent deathtraps to ensure their own survival is employed in the first of the Saw sequels, although this film does give it's villain more screen time than in it's predecessor, ensuring Jigsaw becomes a memorable and malevolent movie villain.
The gore porn is much the same as the first film with a little more invention thrown in for good measure, so it certainly isn't one for the squeamish.
A decent sequel which arguably should have been the only one. The films become more and more inferior and brainless after this one, merely resorting to throwing sadistic violence up on screen just for the sake of it.
5/10

Saw II
Saw II

SAW III (18)
D: Darren Lynn Bousman
Lionsgate (Oren Koules, Mark Burg & Gregg Hoffman)
US/Canada 2006
108 mins

Horror

W: Leigh Wannell
DP: David Armstrong 
Ed: Kevin Greutert
Mus: Charlie Clouser

Tobin Bell (John Kramer), Shawnee Smith (Amanda Young), Angus MacFadyen (Jeff Denlon), Bahar Soomekh (Lynn Denlon), Donnie Wahlberg (Det. Eric Matthews), Dina Meyer (Det. Allison Kerry)

After eluding the cops in the previous sequel, cancer-ridden serial killer Jigsaw turns a deserted warehouse on the outskirts of town into a torture chamber for a new group of victims to participate in the psychopath's twisted, sadistic games. 
The formula is pretty much the same as the first two films, featuring violent death after violent death, with some added originality of introducing a new apprentice to carry on Jigsaw's legacy, setting up opportunities for even further sequels with this unconvincing and frankly insulting twist. Obviously, this paved way for even more sequels, because the series of films proved to be very bankable for the production company.
4/10

Saw III
Saw III