starring Leigh Whannell, Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Monica Potter
screenplay by Leigh Whannell
directed by James Wan
by Walter Chaw Pushed along by an inexplicable tide of buzz, James Wan's Saw is flat-out terrible. It features a career-worst performance from Cary Elwes--remarkable given that Elwes had already reached unwatchability in everything from Liar, Liar to Twister to Kiss the Girls to Ella Enchanted. (You can only ride the Princess Bride wave for so long before it falls out from under you in a crash of "it wasn't that great in the first place.") Between its hyperactive direction and hysterical script and performances, Saw locates itself as somewhere south of Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses and, yep, even the much-maligned FearDotCom. The film isn't scary in the slightest, thinking that epileptic camerawork is a canny replacement for actual anxiety, and though there's some John Dickson Carr pleasure in the locked-room conundrum that opens the piece, by the end the film has become something like a wilting hothouse melodrama about the importance of family. Saw is outrageously stupid and, in its heart of hearts, more than a little desperate. Your slip is showing, boys.