Saw is a 2004 Australian-American horror film directed by James Wan and starring Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Monica Potter, Michael Emerson and Ken Leung. The plot of the film was conceived of by James Wan, while Leigh Whannell wrote the screenplay. It is the first installment of the Saw film series.
The film’s story revolves around two men who are chained in a dilapidated industrial bathroom and are each given instructions via a microcassette recorder on how to escape. One is told he must escape the bathroom, while the other is told to kill him before a certain time, or his family will die. Meanwhile, police detectives investigate and attempt to apprehend the mastermind behind the “game”.
The film was first screened January 19, 2004, at the Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews. It was then screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 18, 2004, with theatrical releases on October 29, 2004, in the United States and December 2, 2004, in Australia. The film was originally rated NC-17 for strong, graphic violence, though after being slightly re-edited, it was released with an R rating.
Critical responses were mixed. Some critics praised its stylish visuals and twist ending, while others denounced it as a cheap “snuff film”. Saw was a financial box office success.