The back-shelf-of-the-video-store horror geek in me was intermittently entertained.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
James Wan's sadistic, Halloween-ready gore fest suggests a reality television competition like Fear Factor, carried to the nth degree of cruelty.
Stephen Holden - New York Times
So over the top that even the recruited audience of non-critics at my screening began to howl.
Mike Clark - USA Today
The Internet film geeks are salivating over this one. But humans who live above ground, including horror fans, will find themselves only fitfully entertained and more consistently appalled.
Desson Thomson - Washington Post
Saw often resembles the ghastliest editions yet of Fear Factor and Survivor and features some of the grodiest direction this side of Project Greenlight.
Wesley Morris - Boston Globe
James Wan's Saw starts off incomprehensibly, turns nasty in a hurry, and ultimately induces numb exhaustion.
Mark Holcomb - Village Voice
A gore movie with no teeth.
Jami Bernard - New York Daily News
Its hellish extremes more oppressive than entertaining.
Bruce Westbrook - Houston Chronicle
A grisly thriller that plays like a bargain-basement rehash of other, better movies.
Gary Dowell - Dallas Morning News
An efficiently made thriller, cheerfully gruesome, and finally not quite worth the ordeal it puts us through.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
Saw is a nasty, nasty piece of business. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.
Robert K. Elder - Chicago Tribune
[Its] sadism is topped only by its absurdity.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
The film is a squeamish exercise, like watching a cruel child pull the wings off flies.
David Hiltbrand - Philadelphia Inquirer
If you're looking for something more meaningful than visceral shocks, Saw won't cut it.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
Saw is a marketing campaign in search of a movie.
Bill Muller - Arizona Republic
The gore is relentless and in your face, and if you grew up glued to the old Universal fright flicks like I did, you won't want to miss a minute of the mayhem.
Rex Reed - New York Observer
There are cheaply effective if unoriginal scares. Filmmakers bring a certain verve to such moments; but building atmosphere and suspense is well beyond them. Ditto handling actors.
Dennis Harvey - Variety
There are a few cheap thrills, but not enough to make sitting through the senseless plot even remotely worthwhile.
V.A. Musetto - New York Post
Neither a deep, psychological thriller nor a mindless slasher flick, this is one skillfully made, if admittedly superficial, creepout.
Jay Boyar - Orlando Sentinel
A strenuously morbid assembly of deranged-genius- serial-killer movie conventions cribbed from just about every popular post-Hannibal Lecter movie imaginable.
Geoff Pevere - Toronto Star
Inventive, but ultimately flawed, film.
Leah McLaren - Globe and Mail
An ingenious machine for inducing terror, rage, and paralyzing unease.
David Edelstein - Slate
On the strength of a grippingly original concept and 90 strong minutes of building action, Saw gets a recommendation, but only if you like this kind of thing.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
Saw boasts an undeniably original premise and clever plot machinations that lift it several notches above the usual slasher film level.
Frank Scheck - Hollywood Reporter
Director James Wan hits the grisly button without shame.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
Saw carelessly underscores its own shaky narrative at every turn with its mid-budget hokiness.
Carina Chocano - Los Angeles Times
Inventive and diverting entertainment for fans of moody horror mysteries. And the end is cool. Say no more.
Dean Essner - Film4
More grisly than scary; not for kids.
Nell Minow - Common Sense Media
The horror genre takes a new direction using extreme violence to support a surprisingly evocative story of redemptive torture.
Wesley Lovell - Oscar Guy
Wesley Lovell - Cinema Sight
Gore, violence, an excellent script, and top notch tension all put together with a whopper of an ending.
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
Having lifted itself up so high in some ways, it's a shame that, in the end, the film sinks down to the level of just being another dumb horror movie.
Steve Biodrowski - ESplatter
It's a brutal, vicious, well done psychological thriller that will leave you disturbed for days.
Stacie Hougland - Hollywood.com
The inconsistencies and incongruities mar the overall result, but it's a fierce enough premise to excite some investors to believe this team can do better and perhaps even bloodier.
Urban Cinefile Critics - Urban Cinefile
The setup is gripping, and the suspense intense, but the third act -- the payoff for sitting through such harrowing material -- is a major misfire.
Mark Halverson - Sacramento News & Review
we all need more Glover in our lives
Stefan Birgir Stefansson - sbs.is
David Ansen - Newsweek
Joe Lozito - Big Picture Big Sound
There is such a storm of terrible dialogue in Saw as to legitimately draw comparisons to none less than Ed Wood.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
Saw gets by on its mood of industrial dread.
Rob Gonsalves - eFilmCritic.com
While the great idea gets squandered, it remains a fun flick, certainly above the par of many other genre films.
Jason Gorber - Film Scouts
Dean Essner - Time Out
Able to hold interest most of the way through, unraveling back stories that feel as if they might lead to something. But then the ending arrives.
Jeffrey Chen - Window to the Movies
As good an all-out, non-camp horror movie as we've had lately.
Kim Newman - Empire Magazine
Dean Essner - Empire Magazine
Blood splatter antics take over and make it a tough watch for the queasy and those who still consider themselves sane.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Dean Essner - Film Threat
just another collection of horror movie cliches
Dragan Antulov - Draxblog Movie Reviews
...though Elwes has received a lot of criticism for his work here, the actor delivers a surprisingly effective performance that feels believable and appropriate...
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
If the film had contained more scenes of intensity and less action, gore, twists and shocks, maybe it could have been a classic of the genre.
Uri Lessing - www.kcactive.com
A twisted tale of torture and deception, Saw is a gritty Halloween snack that all trick-or-treaters should chew on.
Jason Zingale - Bullz-Eye.com
Dean Essner - Bullz-Eye.com
The simple setup ropes us in immediately and never lets up, and some of the imagery will stick with even the most hardened viewer for days.
Bill Clark - FromTheBalcony
Saw's overly elaborate, sporadically effective do-or-die games ultimately don't make the cut.
Nick Schager - Lessons of Darkness
Original, sorprendente, terrible, intensa. Un recuerdo de lo que el cine de terror y thriller debe ser, una historia que te atrapa, y te corta en pedazos.
Alex Ramirez - Cinenganos
Dean Essner - Orlando Weekly
Saw has a surprising number of tricks up its sleeve.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - SPLICEDWire
Vic Holtreman - ScreenRant
Elwes in particular chews so much scenery I'm surprised any of the set was left for them to shoot the movie on.
Greg Maki - Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
Capped by a final plot twist so insane I almost feel obligated to salute it out of respect for its sheer lunacy.
Paul Matwychuk - Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
I'm glad I saw "Saw" because it was pretty good.
Dan Marcucci and Nancy Serougi - Broomfield Enterprise
Dean Essner - Sunday Times (Australia)
I couldn't stop laughing through the whole mess, and unless you have a high tolerance for pretentious, nonsensical, unscary crap, you'll be laughing, too.
David Cornelius - eFilmCritic.com
Vile, bleak, and dismal.
Jake Euker - F5 (Wichita, KS)
Saw's intriguing and genuinely creepy premise is quickly undone by the limitations of both the script and the performers.
David N. Butterworth - Movie Boeuf
the concept is appealing, and to see it acted out in front of your eyes is a guilty thrill.
Eric Melin - Lawrence.com
Out of Seven, I give it a 4. Genuinely creepy, however.
Karina Montgomery - Cinerina
JoBlo - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
A brilliant thriller terrifying and relentless.
Jeff Otto - IGN Movies
The filmmakers should have put more effort into searching for a decent lead actor and less into depicting torturous ways for people to die.
Steve Newton - Georgia Straight
Clumsy, but crudely effective; liberating in its horrific imagery, but undone by the very same.
Jonathan R. Perry - Tyler Morning Telegraph (Texas)
This is the kind of scare-fest that gets under your skin but is too busy elsewhere to penetrate your defenses.
David Keyes - Cinemaphile.org
It's never a good thing to find yourself laughing during a horror thriller, particularly one with a menacing title like Saw. But laugh, laugh, laugh you will.
Randy Shulman - Metro Weekly (Washington, DC)
Horror fans will find plenty to shriek about. Everyone else should keep their distance.
David Sterritt - Christian Science Monitor
Atrocious...I was fully ready to give up an arm and a leg to escape.
Thomas Delapa - Boulder Weekly
Wan struggles to bring this hallow hedonistic horror show to its full potential. Sadly, this Saw doesn't quite cut through the tumultuous malarkey
Frank Ochieng - Movie Eye
Be prepared for plenty of grisly doings, including the performance of Cary Elwes in one of the most classically awful performances since the advent of the talking picture.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
A pointless exercise in shock value.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
This one does its bloody job fairly well, but it'll be interesting to see what Wan and Whannell are able to achieve when they get a bigger budget.
Kurt Loder - MTV
... the cross-bred horror-thriller you've been waiting for since Seven.
Kevin A. Ranson - MovieCrypt.com
A constantly surprising and extraordinarily tense Halloween treat.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
Saw falls apart under reflection, but serves an efficient 2-hours for hardcore horror-junkies.
Mark Palermo - Coast (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
It is a more intelligent entry than most blood and gore flicks. But it has too much blood and killing for my taste.
Vince Koehler - Entertainment Spectrum
James Wan's feature directorial debut is chock full of narrative holes and gratuitous gore.**
Angela Baldassarre - Sympatico.ca
Sawdances close to the edge of cliche, but doesn't fall into the pit too often. It sets up some excellent red herrings, and I was satisfied with the ending.
Kevin Carr - 7M Pictures
Chooses gore for the sake of gore, and cuts its own throat.
Christopher Smith - Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Serial-killer chiller isn't jaw-droppingly terrifying, but it's not terrifyingly bad, either.
James Rocchi - Netflix
While a tad derivative, Saw shows promise of better things to come from Whannell's imagination and Wan's composition.
Bob Bloom - Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
Some misguided critics are praising the film for its originality. Instead, it ought to be condemned as nothing less than Nazi filmmaking.
Daniel M. Kimmel - Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Saw is all gristle and no meaty scares
Christian Toto - Washington Times
Saw has art-house ambitions, but it's nothing but a glorified snuff film. I despised this movie.
Richard Roeper - Ebert & Roeper
...delves a bit too giddily into the cruel and torturous techniques of its villain.
Josh Larsen - Sun Publications (Chicago, IL)
Raises the level of gore delightfully higher.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
Saw n'est pas un film d'horreur des plus reussis, ni un film particulierement brillant [mais] il depasse aisement le niveau des Scream et compagnie.
Louis-Jerome Cloutier - Panorama
See SAW . . . see SAW start to suck . . . See SAW suck away 2 hours
Brian Mckay - eFilmCritic.com
Sick, demented, wrong, and just the sort of movie we deserve at Halloween time.
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
"Saw" leaves its audience saying "Eewww" in appreciation.
Linda Cook - Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)
Saw has its moments, and most of them are brutal in the extreme, but ultimately it's one tremendous misfire that will either leave you laughing or, possibly, gagging.
Marc Savlov - Austin Chronicle
Maybe if the acting were less hysterical, the characters and their fates might arouse emotions other than repugnance and indifference
Peter Keough - Boston Phoenix
The failure is in the execution, and as script, direction and even make-up are abysmal, it is very difficult to believe a moment of Saw.
Bruce Feld - Film Journal International
Dean Essner - Boston Phoenix
A twistily clever psychothriller which affirms life's value even as it sends all hope down the drain.
Anton Bitel - Movie Gazette
David Germain - Journal News (Westchester, NY)
A gratuitous, if often successfully creepy exercise in sadomasochistic filmmaking, Saw features some of the worst acting I have ever seen in a mainstream film with an experienced cast.
James Verniere - Boston Herald
A derivative combination of Seven and Fear Factor, and a work of cynical corporate-style branding posing as independent hustle.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
I take it as proof that Saw is half a parody of serial-killer movies... that Elwes goes stark raving bonkers off-the-deep-end awful in the film's final moments.
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
Terrifying at some moments and insinuatingly creepy at many others.
Carla Meyer - San Francisco Chronicle
For most of its running time, Saw is a cleverly mounted brain teaser that relies less on gore than on mystery and growing panic.
Robert W. Butler - Kansas City Star
Saw doesn't cut it. Any movie that makes you giggle when you should be freaking-out scared has missed the mark - less would have been more.
Cherryl Dawson and Leigh Ann Palone - TheMovieChicks.com
Where Seven seemed to radiate diabolical evil, Saw just radiates idiocy.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
Robert Denerstein - Denver Rocky Mountain News
A sick, twisted, deliriously entertaining horror thriller that rivals The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for sheer, relentless intensity.
Jeff Shannon - Seattle Times
Saw's serial killing is classically grotesque, with emphasis on bodily abuses, in that low-budget-make-a-splash sort of way.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
Some have suggested that this is an intentional genre parody, but it's really the same old saw with uglier teeth.
Bob Strauss - Los Angeles Daily News
A bloody, repugnant world that will offend all but hard-core horror fans.
Jack Garner - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
A twisted, squirm-inducingly nasty bit of work.
Maitland McDonagh - TV Guide's Movie Guide
Even veteran horror fans that treat slice-and-dice crime dramas like this as emotional theme park rides are likely to feel unsettled at first.
Larry Ratliff - San Antonio Express-News
Just another grisly puzzle with no agenda except to convince us that hell would look pretty good after spending almost two hours in this hole.
Terry Lawson - Detroit Free Press
What makes Saw so awful is that it starts with a clever premise and then completely blows it.
M.E. Russell - Oregonian
A fun ride if you don't think too much about it after it's over.
Annlee Ellingson - Boxoffice Magazine
Has plenty of edge-of-the-seat thrills and some sick and twisted memorable moments, but wait to rent it.
Paul Salfen - Supercala.com
Clever but hardly original.
Louis B. Hobson - Jam! Movies
Movies like this exist only so filmmakers can mess with the viewer's mind, and moviegoers who allow it engage in tawdry masochism. * *
Sean Means - Salt Lake Tribune
Horrible acting aside, it's the kind of Halloween treat that'll have you checking your backseat after leaving the theater.
Dean Essner - E! Online
Il a beau etre imparfait, les amateurs de morbidite ne voudront pas manquer Decadence/Saw.
Nicolas Lacroix - EnPrimeur.ca
Dean Essner - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Saw is a lesson in the redemptive power of a clever ending, how five minutes of inspiration can compensate for an hour and a half of mediocrity.
Lisa Rose - Newark Star-Ledger
[Saw is] spoiled by its own insatiable desire for envelope-pushing flair; it's wider-scoped when it should be intimate, splashy instead of subtle, icky but not scary.
Aaron Hillis - Premiere Magazine
The gripping, bloodcurdling Saw is the best serial-killer thriller since Bill Paxton's Frailty.
Chuck O'Leary - Fantastica Daily
This gimmicky serial-killer thriller is pretty laughable, despite the gruesome subject matter and its graphic, often nauseating gore.
Jeff Vice - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Dean Essner - Baltimore Sun
For horror fans, the movie kicks butt.
Bruce Kirkland - Jam! Movies
Saw simply doesn't cut it.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
Though it has its share of unsettling moments, it's not nearly as scary as it wants to be.
Rob Vaux - Flipside Movie Emporium
A gruesome blast of psychological horror that is so giddily pumped up with nasty hormones, you can't help but dissolve into laughter at the same time as you are hiding your eyes.
Jan Stuart - Newsday
Tyro director James Wan...is obviously a huge David Fincher fan as "Saw" ransacks both "Se7en" and "The Game" albeit in bargain basement fashion
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Saw is laughable, but it's worth laughing at.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
If every year has a Showgirls, Saw is the prime candidate for 2004.
Brian Orndorf - FilmJerk.com
Proves that a film can be intellectually stimulating and as freaky as your cat on acid.
Jon Popick - Planet Sick-Boy
Messy and rather revolting, but carrying an undeniable visceral impact. On that level, Saw works. It just happens to be a very low level.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
I can't quite work up the nerve to fully recommend it (that ending is really awful) but I do appreciate the energy and skill that it has been made with.
Peter Sobczynski - Critic Doctor
Saw isn't as good as Seven, but it more than lives up to the promise implied in the name of the company that made it: Twisted Films.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
Why don't serial killers just kill people anymore?
Josh Bell - Las Vegas Weekly
Though crudely drawn, clumsily acted and 20 minutes too long, Saw is just ingenious enough to hold your interest.
Duane Dudek - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
A creepy raw classic. This movie is terrifying.
Victoria Alexander - Movie Reviews in Croatian
What few moviegoers will like is the film's insistence on dwelling in the underbelly of taste.
Bob Longino - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
As gory a guilty pleasure as Saw is at the outset, it falls prey to the postulate that no one knows how to end a thriller without resorting to surprise without sense.
Nick Rogers - State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL)
Elwes is simply jaw-dropping -- a hysterical tornado of overemoting who puts William Shatner at his hammiest to shame.
Scott Von Doviak - Fort Worth Star-Telegram
... the most extreme entry yet in the bleak and dusky splinter of American thrillers about criminal geniuses with messianic egos and sadistic torments...
Sean Axmaker - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Scott Von Doviak - Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
You may scream & wince more from the pain of witnessing poor Cary Elwes overact his way through the film than you will from all the bloody scenes in Saw added together.
Rebecca Murray - About.com
Fans of industrial music finally have a mainstream movie release that represents their zeitgeist
Luke Y. Thompson - New Times
Saw is nothing more than a poor man's Seven, right down to the casting of Glover as the Morgan Freeman-like black cop.
Susan Michals - FilmStew.com
Too many twists, turns, false solutions, implausibilities and impossibilities.
Donald J. Levit - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Sick as the story is, it's the visuals that give Saw it's visceral punch.
Sean McBride - Sean the Movie Guy
An unsatisfying copout that falls apart five minutes after you leave the theater
Christopher Null - Filmcritic.com
In this age of cookie cutter thrillers, here's one that, for better or worse (or a bit of both), stands apart from the pack.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
A bad film badly written, badly performed, badly scored, and most of all, badly directed, Saw's a mess, a waste of flesh. And I don't mean that in a good way.
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
Whannell and Wan ... come up with some of the most twisted stuff you have never imagined.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
While it doesn't live up to its reputation of being one of the most disturbing horror films ever made, it does have its fair share of deliciously twisted moments.
Alex Sandell - Juicy Cerebellum
The terror has started immediately, and won't relent until the final frame. No, make that five minutes after the final frame.
Phil Villarreal - Arizona Daily Star
Showcases gratuitous gore and the ubiquitously macabre bells and whistles that pass themselves off as fear.
Jeanne Aufmuth - Palo Alto Weekly
I'm sure there's an audience somewhere for this sick sort of story, but I couldn't stomach it.
Steve Rhodes - Internet Reviews
Predictably, the twists exist for their own sake and aren't grounded in character or theme.
Jeremiah Kipp - Slant Magazine
Saw is a film that scared me in the cinema and made me make sure the wardrobe door was shut when I went to bed that night!
David Wadham - Future Movies UK
real horror arises from the stuff of genuine nightmares, stuff that the story-writing duo examines with intimate, even salacious, detail
Andrea Chase - Killer Movie Reviews
Dark and twisted.
Scott Nash - Three Movie Buffs
My only disappointment after the arterial mayhem here is with the final resolution, but I'm not going to be so aberrated as to tell you what it is.
Jules Brenner - Cinema Signals
And I thought the slow-motion flying flesh of The Passion of the Mel was sadistic. It's Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo placed alongside James Wan's grizzly Saw.
Ryan Cracknell - Movie Views
Staci Layne Wilson - Horror.com
Complex, tricksy, gruesome and thoroughly entertaining.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
Deliriously inventive and sadistically cruel.
Jamie Russell - BBC
This disturbing and violent movie gleefully plays with our minds as it twists and turns through its tricky, menacing plot.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
Though the film does work marginally well as a satire of modern serial killer thrillers and their Byzantine games of cat-and-mouse, I have a hunch that's the zeitgeist's doing
Bill Chambers - Film Freak Central
May be the best independent horror film to have come out since The Blair Witch Project. It's certainly better than Blair Witch, and more fun, more gruesome, and more macabre.
Heidi Martinuzzi - Film Threat
Nick Nunziata - CHUD
A film that will please the blood buffs, mildly amuse the kiddies and make the adults say 'puh-lease'.
Oz - eFilmCritic.com
A freakishly entertaining, edge-of-your-seat whodunit with both psychosomatic implications and the landscape drenched in the thick red stuff
Erik Childress - eFilmCritic.com
A cult classic waiting to happen for those who like their Horror Movies dark, smart, twisted and hard.
Scott Weinberg - eFilmCritic.com
If Whannell's script doesn't get all the talky parts quite right, he certainly nails the mechanics of telling the story: what to reveal, when to reveal it, and so on.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com