Movie Reviews

Saw’s Script Was Made Better By 1 Problem (That It Never Ended Up Facing)

During the initial writing process for Saw, filmmakers James Wan and Leigh Whannell were faced with a big problem that, inadvertently, helped make the now classic horror movie so iconic. The first installment in the Saw franchise was released back in 2004 and, not only did it help set up a number of sequels and spinoffs, but it was also pivotal in defining a subgenre of horror in the 2000s. Nevertheless, much of what went into making Saw so noteworthy in the 2000s was not necessarily what helped make the original movie so successful.

The Saw franchise is known for elaborate traps, psychological games, and gruesome horror, but the fact that director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell were unknown at the time caused concern among the filmmakers when it came to obtaining a sizable budget from a studio. Wan and Whannell decided they were going to shoot Saw with their own money, choosing to adopt more of an indie feel for the movie as opposed to a full-fledged blockbuster. With that in mind, the two filmmakers needed to take their lack of budget into account while working on the screenplay, which is why most of Saw takes place in a single location with just three characters.

Related: Could Saw’s Reverse Bear Trap Really Exist?

The lack of a sizable budget forced the creators to focus on the story, not the traps that the Saw franchise is associated with. Even though some of Saw‘s best moments come from the now infamous trap scenes, the heart and soul of the movie derive from the story that revolves around the two main characters who are trapped in the bathroom together. That is, the real emphasis of the movie is the emotional turmoil of the characters and not the complexities of the traps themselves. What went into making Saw so successful upon its release was the well-thought-out story the filmmakers presented, which then allowed them to obtain the sizable budget they so desperately deserved.

Unfortunately, the outrageous success of the first Saw might have failed the franchise, which couldn’t quite live up to the original. As the franchise grew in popularity, there seemed to be less of an emphasis on character and story, instead choosing to allocate their massive budgets toward more complex sets and extravagant traps. The end result was one that could bring in audiences on the promise of classic Saw moments, but couldn’t quite match the cultural impact of the original.

Some of the greatest movies of all time faced daunting problems during their inception: be it a lack of a larger budget or the inadequacy of technology while filming. That being said, many of these same problems can be turned into strong points if talented creatives push themselves to solve them — problem-solving is the essence of creativity. Luckily, the now horror franchise icons James Wan and Leigh Whannell were able to turn one of Saw‘s biggest problems, its lack of budget, into something truly powerful.

Next: Saw: The True Story That Inspired The Horror Movie

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