On this day in horror history, James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s Saw opened in 2004. Directed by Wan in his feature directorial debut, the screenplay was written by Whannell, who co-created the story with Wan in their screenwriting debuts.
The first installment in the Saw series stars Whannell with Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Monica Potter, Michael Emerson, Ken Leung, and Tobin Bell as Jigsaw.
Written in 2001, Wan and Whannell had trouble producing the film in their native Australia, so they travel to Los Angeles and shot a low-budget short film from the infamous beartrap scene in the movie. The short was a success and Twisted Pictures gave the film a budget of $1.2M and an 18-day shooting schedule.
Saw performed very well at the box office, grossing more than $100M worldwide and becoming one of the most profitable horror films since Scream back in 1996.
Most importantly, the film gave Wan and Whannell careers which resulted in some of the most classic fright flicks of our time including Dead Silence, Cooties, and The Invisible Man along with both the Insidious and The Conjuring franchises.
The film tells the tale of a photographer (Leigh Whannell) and an oncologist (Cary Elwes) who wake up chained to pipes in a filthy bathroom. The two men realize they’ve been trapped by a sadistic serial killer nicknamed “Jigsaw” and must complete his perverse puzzle to live. Meanwhile, Elwes’ wife (Monica Potter) and daughter (Makenzie Vega) are forced to watch his torture via closed-circuit video.
Rated R for strong grisly violence and language, the film sports a 49% on Rotten Tomatoes with a Critics Consensus that reads: Saw ensnares audiences with a deceptively clever plot and a myriad of memorable, nasty set pieces, but its lofty ambitions are undercut by a nihilistic streak that feels more mean than profound.