Of all the holidays celebrated worldwide, no single day is loved by the Substream staff more than Halloween. With October’s arrival, the time has finally come to begin rolling out a slew of special features we have prepared in celebration of our favorite day.
31 Days Of Halloween is a recurring column that will run throughout the month of October. The goal of this series is to supply every Substream reader with a daily horror (or Halloween-themed) movie recommendation that is guaranteed to amplify your All Hallows’ Eve festivities. We’ll be watching every film the day it’s featured, and we hope you will follow along at home. Reader, beware, you’re in for a… spooky good time!
Day 31: Saw (2004)
Twist endings in horror films are nothing new. Lots of movies try them and fail (Signs, The Secret Window) and some swing for the fences and blow your mind wide open (Scream, The Sixth Sense, Sleepaway Camp). In 2004 an indie movie hit the scene that had a great setup: A serial killer (or is he?) kidnaps victims and puts them in homemade traps to make them choose life and learn to be a better people. This movie looked like it had it all: Great tension, a gritty and artistic feel, a weird little puppet riding a tricycle, and what appeared to be just enough gore to keep the hardcore horror fans satisfied. Saw delivered on all fronts and then it managed to do something even more just when you thought it was already perfect. This film had one of the best twist endings in horror history and it was damn near impossible to see it coming.
Saw was one of the first horror movies I saw opening night at midnight in theaters. I remember my stepfather had to take me to see it because I was not yet 17 and it was very much rated R. Ever since that year I made it to every single midnight opening for the Saw franchise, no matter how unnecessary the movies had become—and let’s be honest, after the third one that was all of them.
What a lot of people don’t remember (or maybe even never realized in the first place) is that Saw was an indie film. It had a budget of just over a million dollars and a practically unknown cast. The writer/director duo of Leigh Whannell and James Wan (who has since had big hits with The Conjuring and Insidious films, among others) were unheard of. Needless to say, they made their mark and horror has not quite been the same ever since. After Saw came out, there was a race to push the boundaries of gore and shock value with movies like Hostel and similar features, but when Saw did it it was not for shock, it was for effect, and that effect has lasted for well over a decade.
Watch it or don’t, make your choice.
Today’s ’31 Days Of Halloween’ editorial is a piece previously published by our dear friend, Justin Proper, who passed away in November of 2014. We wanted to continue to honor his memory by sharing something he wrote about some of the things he enjoyed most in life: Film and horror. We miss you, buddy. Rest in peace, JP.