Why I Love Saw

I am a self-proclaimed “Sawfreak”. Let me just start off by saying that. Of all the things that I love about horror movies—and of all the horror movies that I love—Saw is at the very top of that list.

My freshman year of college happened to be the year that the original Saw came out. I didn’t have much time for a social life that year—and of course this included trips to the movie theater. But I remember hearing other students talking about Saw after weekends, and even after Thanksgiving break. One coworker of mine at school told me he heard that some people were so jacked up after seeing this movie that they had to go see a psychiatrist. To this day I’m not sure if he made that up or not, but that was all anyone would tell me about the movie except that it was awesome and a great suspenseful horror movie.

So, of course, by the time I came home for the summer and it had come out on DVD, one of the first things I did after arriving at my parents’ house was hop in my beloved car and head straight to Blockbuster to the rent this movie. What I did not realize was that this one simple act at a video store I had been going to since I was a child, would set me on a path that would change my life.

When I got home and started watching that move (alone, no less, because everyone else had seen it), I was captivated from the very first second. You always hear people talking about how filmmakers need to build characters up and make us care about what happens to them so that we’re invested in their story. Well, somehow Saw manages to do that without really even doing it at all. Starting the movie with action—Adam waking up in that bathtub and discovering he’s locked and chained in a bathroom with another man—well, I immediately wanted to know what was going on and who was doing this to them. I was immediately invested in what happened to Adam and Lawrence.

By the end of the movie, I was in shock. Now, I say this with a lot of love, and as a huge horror fan: when I watch a horror movie, I generally only expect to be entertained; nothing more, nothing less. I certainly don’t expect to be kept in suspense, to care so much about the story and the characters, to never want it to end. But that was how I felt by the end of Saw. I remember being in my bedroom, alone, sitting there with my mouth hanging open for at least a couple of minutes after the movie was over, because of that unbelievable twist.

All this is to say that I was personally invested in the franchise since the beginning; before it was even a franchise. I am a firm believer that that great twist ending at the end is what made them movie so memorable that a second one was even able to be made. It becoming a staple of the franchise is one of the things I love most about the Saw movies. It was always a guarantee that each new installment would have an ending that would blow me away.

The Saw movies are the kind that drew the audience in, in a very unique way. Each one has a “where does your allegiance lie?” element. It was never just about the gore; there were emotional elements and ethical dilemmas in every one of the seven films. With every film—every single trap, even—there are moments when one could just as easily be on Jigsaw’s side as we could the latest trap victim’s side. It’s not hard to see why Jigsaw wanted to test the cop who abused his authority and got false convictions; or the rapist, or the child abuser and his wife who let him get away with him.

For this reason, the films made me (and many others think). “Are there certain people who really don’t deserve to live? What would I do if I were in a trap? What lengths would I be strong enough to go to survive?” In a genre that is not really known for being thought-provoking, the Saw movies were very unique in the ability to raise some deep points and making one think.

Jigsaw himself was perhaps the biggest reason why I am a “Sawfreak”, and why these films are my favorite in the horror genre.  As a horror movie villain, he is in a class of his own. He was not a joker with powers to do supernatural things and come back to life like Freddy, he was not a silent almost-zombie-like force like Michael or Jason; nor an inbred country killer or an actual zombie or a monster.

Famous Horror Themes


There are a lot of things that come to mind when a horror fan thinks about their favorite scary movies, and why they love them so much. But there is one important thing that hasn’t really ever come up in my discussions with fellow horror fans—something that is quite often overlooked…


That thing is music. Music plays a very important part in horror movies; whether it’s the score overall, or the score during a particularly suspenseful, intense moment in a movie. But the biggest role music plays in horror movies are those rare, famous themes—particularly instrumental music that defines a film or franchise, and becomes synonymous with the killer and his (or her) legacy.


Here is a list of some of that famous music that has shaped some of horror’s best moments, and some of the best horror movies out there.


  1. 1.  Halloween: Let’s just go ahead and get the most obvious choice out of the way. Not only is Halloween itself basically the Michael Jackson of horror movies (the one movie that everyone knows about; the one common thread that pretty much all horror fans have in common), but its theme is the definitive horror movie theme song—in fact, it’s the definitive theme for the holiday of the same name. That piano music is so creepy, and even if I went the entire month of October without watching the movie, I could listen to that theme song every day for the whole month, and not get tired of it.
  2. Friday the 13th: To some, the sound goes ”Ch-Ch-Ch, ah-ah-ah.” For others like myself, it’s “Kill, kill kill; die, die, die.” And then there is the (probably correct) theory that that the noise is really “kill-kill-kill-ma-ma-ma”—a shortened version of “Kill, mommy”. Either way, when one hears that sound, you know that Jason is nearby—and so is trouble. It helps build suspense right before the big chase scene. This is another one that is obvious, because it’s a classic.
  3. Prom Night (1980): This one is semi-tricky. The theme song from this movie is so cheery and upbeat; it directly contrasts with the creepy tone the film attempts to have. But in my mind, the association of that song with the images of long, drawn-out chase sequences with a creepy, masked figure, fit absolutely perfectly together. It qualifies as a great horror theme because it emphasizes the one thing this film has going for it; the concept of the greatest night of one’s youth turning into a murder rampage nightmare.
  4. Scream: This one is another odd choice. But there is something about the Scream composition that is somewhat of a masterpiece. It almost has an operatic tone to it, and the theme just so happens to be featured in all the most pivotal moments in the film. As soon as one hears that female voice and that identifying Scream music, you know that you are either about to get a vital piece of information, or something intense is building up.
  5. Saw: This theme is such a big deal, it even has its own name (Hello Zepp) and tons of variations (such as the one that hardcore Saw fans such as myself know as Shithole Theme). I’ve seen this theme used in a couple of other things, but it doesn’t change the fact that it will always be the Saw theme. It’s a bone-chilling, tense instrumental, and the obvious thing that makes it so significant is that it always comes at the end of the film, with the twist and the montage that ties everything in the film together.


There are a ton of others, and as October is just around the corner—and with it, many, many horror film viewings ahead—they are the thing I look forward to the most about the upcoming month, and Halloween itself.


Insidious Chapter 2

Take it from a huge fan of both horror movies and the members of the so-called “Splat Pack”; there are a few things you need to know about viewing a James Wan/Leigh Whannell film:
1) The scares will always be real. There won’t be clichés or cats jumping out when we’re supposed to think it’s the killer. Every scare, every frightening moment, is earned.
2) You can’t miss a second. There are never really any filler scenes in a Wan/Whannell movie; every moment is important and vital information/plot points could come at any second. And even the things you don’t understand will all come together at the very end.
3) There is no such thing as a happy ending in a James Wan/Leigh Whannell horror film.
All that said, I have been looking forward to Insidious Chapter 2 since the day I heard it was being made. Partly because I am a devoted fan of the two filmmakers, and partly because the first Insidious was such a great horror story; I couldn’t wait to see where they’d go with a new story.
It took all of 1 minute into this sequel for me to know that this one was going to be much, much better than the original. The suspense started building from the first minute of the opening scene. Clues are laid out as to where the plot will go from that opening scene, and it was really nice to see that the non-linear elements of a Wan/Whannell horror film were there, as we immediately see that the opening scene takes place decades before the first film ever happened.
If you’ve seen the first film, you know what to expect this time around. Two of the Lambert family males have the ability to astral project when they are sleeping. This means they have an out of body experience during sleep that allows them to travel in another world. Sounds cool, but this other world isn’t some place you actually would want to be. In the first film, the son Dalton gets lost while in this other world, and can’t find his way back. Dalton’s grandmother reveals that Dalton’s dad, Josh, has the same ability, and so he is sent in to find his son. He does this, but at the end of the movie it becomes apparent that he has brought something (or someone) very evil back into the real world with him.
And this is where we find ourselves in Insidious Chapter 2. Josh has brought an evil spirit back with him from the other world, (a spirit that has killed the paranormal expert who’d been helping them, and made it look like Josh did it). The Lambert family must figure out how to get rid of the spirit (and what it wants); and how to survive in the meantime until they are capable of getting rid of it.
There are definitely a lot of twists and turns along the way, so it’s hard to talk about the plot without giving too much away. What I can say is that this movie will scare the pants off of even the most devoted and jaded horror enthusiast—myself included.
Insidious Chapter 2 is one of those rare horror films that comes along that is actually “about” something. It effectively tells a story without being campy, cheesy, or so ridiculous that it’s laughable…This is not to say that the film isn’t fun: in fact, it’s a lot of fun, and there are quite a few humorous moments that make you let your guard down and actually laugh enough to take your mind off of being scared silly for a while.

I’ve experienced a lot of movies where, for all the good in it, there are a lot of dull moments where nothing really happens—the kind of scenes you just know you’ll end up skipping past if you actually buy the movie. There were no such moments in this film. Every scene was basically an adrenaline rush. In this way, Chapter 2 was a lot more fast-paced than the original. In fact, some of the scares are so subtle and quick, if you blink you might miss them.
The suspense and tension are so thick in this movie, and that only adds to what makes it so much fun to watch. Even when you know something scary is about to happen, Whannell and Wan let the tension build to the point that just when you think you might have been wrong, here comes the evil.
Was this a fun time at the theater? Yes. Would I recommend it and go see it again? Absolutely. It does what so many horror movies fail to do these days: actually frighten you and make you jump. And it has the classic “it’s never really over” not-so-happy ending that James Wan and Leigh Whannell are known for.