Saw & The Evolution of Torture Porn

There is probably no genre that has more sub-genres than horror. The list is never-ending and I’m positive I’m not even aware of all of them. Some are so strange and bizarre while others are very straightforward (found footage, slasher, etc). But none of them has a flashier name than Torture Porn.

It hasn’t been since the beginning of horror, but horror has a bit of a past with gore. They sort of can go hand in hand sometimes. A lot of films are known for their gore in the Splatter sub-genre (I Spit On Your Grave, and Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste and Braindead) but it seemed as if the gore in a movie had never been used to such an extent that can’t be seen as comedic (which can’t be said about Braindead which is splatstick) until Saw. Or at least that’s how people remember it.

In the Saw franchise, there’s a serial killer on the loose named Jigsaw. In the first film, there aren’t that many traps and they are pretty tame in comparison to the rest of the franchise or even the Final Destination films that were doing nearly the same thing at the same time.

The name Torture Porn may have started after Saw and was coined around the time that Eli Roth’s film Hostel came out, but it’s there’s no world with Hostel without Saw prefacing it. But it’s the final trap in the first Saw that makes people wince after all this time. Our two leads wake up in a strange washroom, each with one of their ankles chained up to a pipe. A key to let them free is lost down the drain as the movie begins, so their only real option is to use the titular saw to cut off their foot.

Out of the few traps in the film, two of them are shown at a much faster speed. Only the reverse bear trap (where nothing occurs) and the actual use of the saw (which cuts away most of the time) are shown in real time. It’s the ticking clock that adds the suspense, that makes the film still incredible after all these years.

That’s also because of James Wan who has become a pretty big deal as of late. After Saw, he turned to Dead Silence a great unique take on the creepy puppet sub-genre (also Wan’s twitter handle), and Death Sentence is a great film that shows a more realistic horror that is also the sequel to the Death Wish novel. That proves that Wan isn’t just a horror director but a great director as well (Furious 7 is proof of this too), and to follow that he’s given Aquaman.

I personally love the Saw franchise (and Final Destination for the same reason). The brutality and the gore of it that avoids a need for plot, not that the plot is really needed. But the only one that really has one that even attempts to work is the first one. The second film was a different film entirely (originally called Desperate) that was asked to be written into the franchise after the major success and responses from Sundance’s premiere of Saw.  By the third film, Lionsgate and the writer jump the shark and by the end of the franchise, it felt more of a parody of torture porn because of the excessive blood.

But in James Wan’s Saw, we have tension, and terror but most importantly, we have characters we can care about. So, when Lawrence Gordon finally takes the saw to cut off his foot, we understand why he’s driven so far that we don’t question what he was driven to do. And when Adam is left alone in the dark and all he can do is scream, it can shake you to your core knowing that he lost the game, and no other film ever made “game over” sound so chilling before this.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s