Our Rating: 4.50
Not only is James Wan's stunning, terrifying directorial debut, Saw, the first post-Bush horror film, it's the one the administration deserves. There's no subtext the movie wears its themes of racism, social Darwinism and even healthcare outrage on its bloody sleeve. As the film opens, two guys a wealthy doctor (Cary Elwes) and a poor photographer (screenwriter Leigh Whannell) wake up chained to a wall in a filthy bathroom they share with a bloody corpse. A disembodied voice gives them a few hours to either kill one another or be killed. They recall now-significant memories in flashback form and a mystery plot coalesces. The spiritual kin of ferociously primitive, politically acute '70s horror films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, Saw is extremely informed by post-Sept. 11 anxieties. Its final, shocking 30 seconds reveal that the real evil is still out there, anonymous, its rage only vaguely defined and well up to the demands of a sequel.