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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

SAW (article first published : 2005-04-18)

Saw, a new chiller-thriller opening in Durban today, is one of those films you know is highly improbable, increasingly silly and also chiselled with plot-holes. But while its story is unfolding, this big box-office hit abroad makes for arresting viewing.

In fact, it's one of the most scary movies to have come our way in a long while - peep-through-bitten-fingers stuff with some horrific moments that are definitely not for the squeamish.

And its opening few minutes are quite the most gripping of any film I have seen in many a moon.

Picture it. A young man wakes to find himself handcuffed and submerged in water in a rusting old bath. He has no idea how he got there. The bath is in a dingy old ablution block where, across the room from the panic-stricken youth, is an older man (a chubby Cary Elwes), also handcuffed and distraught. Between the two of them, another man lies motionless, face-down in a pool of blood, a small tape recorder close to one of his outstretched hands and a gun near the other.

It transpires that the two handcuffed men, their handcuffs attached to chains on a wall, are strangers who, after getting hold of that tape recorder, learn that the older of the two of them must kill the younger before a certain time - or else his wife and young daughter will be done in.

As the minutes tick by, so the two piece together clues as to who could have done this to them and how to get themselves out of their sorry situation. And they have to decide whether two saws they each come upon later will be used to cut through their chains or their ankles.

And still the minutes tick by, time during which we are led to piece together a fascinating tale of a madman who takes delight in pitting strangers against one another in ghastly games of death - earlier exercises having included a man given a time limit to get out of a cage of barbed wire and a woman fitted with a device that will ruin her pretty face.

To give away too much more would ruin the fun. Suffice it to say that if horror is your bag, see Saw, a sequel of which is on the way. Rating: 7/10. - Billy Suter




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