With the long-delayed ninth film in the series Spiral due for theatrical release when cinemas reopen next week, Lionsgate Home Entertainment have made the excellent decision to remind us how it all began with a 4K UHD debut for James Wan’s 2004 ultraviolent classic Saw. Undoubtedly one of the biggest and most popular modern horror franchises to terrify audiences around the world, the Saw series has certainly earned its legacy over eight dark and twisty mysteries – but while they have gradually become more schlocky and reliant on ‘torture porn’, there is no denying the raw power of the film that started it all.
Adapted from their 2003 short film of the same name, Wan and Leigh Whannell’s influential shocker holds up remarkably well today. Even knowing its final twist, Saw still has the power to keep viewers on the edge of their seats up until that infamous climactic revelation and leave us stunned every single time. Why? Because it’s just a near-perfectly executed exercise in tension, character development and bloody horror. The series gets a bad wrap due to the increasingly weak quality of the later sequels, which leads many to forget just how good this film is. But Saw is an incredible piece of filmmaking; Whannell’s script is insanely compelling, the performances (from a cast including Cary Elwes and Danny Glover) are remarkable and that theme by Charlie Clouser sends shivers down my spine to this day.
This new 4K UHD release from Lionsgate Home Entertainment is certainly the best the film has ever looked, and probably the best the film can look. Here is a dark and gritty film that isn’t one that exactly oozes visual flair, taking place largely in dark, grimy settings such as the dilapidated bathroom where the majority of the runtime takes place. Previous discs of the film have looked rather iffy so it sure is nice to see how good the film can look with the right master, even if it still doesn’t exactly reach the heights of the format.
Saw remains one of the most horrifying and influential horror films of the last 20 years, and it’s great to see it treated so well with a 4K UHD release. It looks and sounds terrific considering the limitations of the film’s visuals, and serves as the definitive release of the dark, twisted tale that launched a legendary franchise that continues to this day.
SAW is available on 4K UHD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment on May 17, along with a repackaged LEGACY COLLECTION of all 8 films, available on Blu-ray and DVD.