The Saw franchise started with a low budget indie horror flick, Saw, in 2004. At the time the horror market was glutted and no one really expected this low budget film by unknown writers and directors to do very well. Even the creators of the film didn’t have high expectations for it. However, the Saw movies have gone on to become some of the most lucrative horror movies in history. The most recent incarnation, Saw V, in particular, was the highest box office grossing horror movie of all time. Even people who aren’t die hard horror fans were blown away by the Saw films. Saw VI is scheduled to be released just before Halloween in 2009.
One of the reasons why the Saw films appeal to such a wide audience is the basic premise of the film which is that people should be tested in order to appreciate their lives. The ones who fail to appreciate their lives lose them, in torturous and horrific ways usually. The psychological aspect of the premise behind the movies is engaging and draws in fans of many other types of genres of movies. Instead of just being another slasher film the first Saw movie was darkly thrilling and kept audiences guessing until the very end about the identity of the killer. In the first film audiences knew very little about the killer, nicknamed Jigsaw, but in future films more about Jigsaw’s past was revealed.
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Jigsaw is a man who was happily married until his wife lost their child. The death of the child caused a rift in the marriage which caused them to divorce. After the divorce Jigsaw was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Left with a lot of anger and bitterness about the fact that is life was waning while so many people wasted their lives doing bad things, stupid things, or nothing at all he decided to commit suicide. The suicide attempt failed, and he lived. After that he became obsessed with testing people who he felt were not taking full advantage of their lives, with the ultimate goal of either forcing them to change or killing them.
He began designing elaborate psychological and physical traps for people he felt were squandering their lives, starting in the first movie with the doctor who diagnosed his cancer. The traps were designed to not only cause great physical pain but to also cause great psychological pain and to break people down into a survival state of mind. Those were able to survive were supposed to be more grateful for their lives. Those who didn’t survive were considered weak and better off dead.
The Saw franchise was the first horror series in many years that brought an entirely new storyline to the genre. In a time when old horror plots were being remade and recycled the original Saw movie was fresh, fascinating, and managed to play upon audiences’ deepest psychological fears as well as their physical fears. The Saw franchise will go down in history as one of the most innovative and deeply disturbing horror franchises of all time.