“Saw” is not the best movie.

The acting is mediocre at best. The cinematography is over-exaggerated to the extreme. The writing is lazy and leaves no room for interpretation whatsoever.

And yet, it remains one of the most iconic horror films in history.

The 2003 movie follows the story of two men trapped in a room at the mercy of a psychotic killer. One of the men, Lawrence (Cary Elwes), is given instructions to kill the other, Adam (Leigh Whannell), before a clock in the room strikes 6:00. If he succeeds, he walks free. If he fails, his wife and daughter die.

A storyline is gradually revealed through flashbacks that shows the anonymous killer’s previous twisted “games” and the police’s attempt to track him down. Each is nothing short of cringe-inducing. The maniacal inventions coupled with the graphic and incredibly realistic gore are enough to cause discomfort even to those with steel stomachs.

This is where “Saw” really shines.

This is not a movie that you watch and feel good after. Instead, it’s a showcase of the kind of things that only the sickest minds could come up with. The traps that the killer, affectionately known as Jigsaw, creates are all designed to cut his victims to the core. 

They are forced to face the things they feared in life and betray the very essence of who they are. It’s twisted in the most creative way, and the victims have no choice but to carry on. 

The most gut-wrenching part is that there is still hope. Jigsaw follows through on his promises to release victims if they play along and often dangles the key to their rescue right in front of them.

It’s really not worth arguing that this movie is good by traditional metrics, but it leaves a scar deeper than any traditional horror movie I’ve seen. It’s so creatively gruesome that it leaves me both worried for and afraid of the writer. I don’t want to watch it again, but I know I will. And I’ll be just as uncomfortable as I was the first time I saw it.

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