That said – Saw gets a pretty bad wrap. I’m sure you’ve heard the term ‘murder porn’ and I use the term myself, just because it is a great definer for the genre. Saw, Hostel, Final Destination.. movies where there is less focus on the murderer (Jason, Freddie, etc) and more on the vehicle of demise.
At its heart though, Saw has a grander story to tell – that if they knew it was going to be such a success beyond its first and second installments, I’d like to believe they would have secured that vision tightly. Since, though, there was a period of time in the late 00’s where a new Saw film was as regular as the sun rising – some corners were cut and opportunities missed. I do understand that there are some holes in the following logic because of actions that occur throughout the series, but it is my headcannon for Saw, and I think it elevates it beyond the ‘Cool Death Simulator’ we see it is.
John Kramer was a man with a string of bad luck. Doctors who didn’t care about him. Insurance that wouldn’t back him. A wife that was trying to change the world, who because of of her work, lost a child. The world spit on John and cast him aside at every turn, and he was going to find a way to get revenge. Each of the initial murders was, albeit impossibly difficult and with some amount of pain and disfigurement, escapable. We even learn that more than one person has not only escaped, but followed Jigsaw’s ethos and joined in his cause.
Of course, great power, great responsibility – and not all of Jigsaw’s converts are fighting for the forces of (exceptionally deadly) light. Detective Hoffman becomes the anti-version of Jigsaw’s vision, killing out of sociopathy versus method. Amanda, Jigsaw’s most dedicated apostle, and his ex-wife who was both estranged but also sympathetic to John’s fight – are left to stop him.
At its heart, when John Kramer is doing the killing – there should be a method – a vehicle – an answer – and a punishment that fits the crime. When Hoffman acts as Jigsaw, that should be a perverted and near always unwinnable challenge. Yes, this is all concerning the methodology of two murderers.. but, if you remove the bodycount of exploded limbs, John Kramer made the people that survive rethink their lives and reconsider what living is. He is obviously not a hero, but in terms of roleplaying games, John should always be Lawful Evil and Hoffman should always be Neutral Evil — but both will always think they are doing good.
What do you think of the Saw franchise? Do you think there is a moral component beneath the reverse bear traps and the pits full of hypodermic needles? Let us know!