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USA 2004
produced by
Mark Burg, Gregg Hoffman, Oren Koules, Peter Block (executive), Jason Constantine (executive), Stacey Testro (executive) for Evolution Entertainment, Twisted Pictures, Saw Productions
directed by James Wan
starring Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannell, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Michael Emerson, Mackenzie Vega, Monica Potter, Tobin Belle, Dina Meyer, Mike Butters, Paul Gutrecht, Benito Martinez, Shawnee Smith, Ned Bellamy, Alexandra Bokyun Chun, Avner Garbi
screenplay by Leigh Whannell, based on a story by James Wan & Leigh Whannell


review by
Mike Haberfelner

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2 men, Lawrence (Cary Elwes) & Adam (Leigh Whannell) all of a sudden find themselves waking up in a filthy bathroom, each with one leg chained to a wall, the walls opposite each other & far away from each other to not be able to reach each other. In between them lies a dead man, a gun in his hand, also out of reach from the 2 of them. Then a voice tells Lawrence he has to kill Adam in the next eight hours, otherwise his wife Alison (Monica Potter) & daughter Diana (Makenzie Vega) will be shot ...

This does of course not lift the spirit of the two of them, but then Lawrence is reminded of the Jigsaw Killer, a homicidal psychopath who delights in putting people into deathtraps, which they can only escape when they do something really gruesome (like killing someone else) ... & at one time, Lawrence himself was even suspected to be the Jigsaw Killer by detectives Tapp (Danny Glover) & Sing (Ken Leung).

Eventually the detecitves had to let him go though & almost caught the real killer, but it ended with Sing being riddled by a spring-machine-gun, & Tapp's throat being slashed (he survived though). Since then, Tapp has been suspended from the force & tried to capture the killer - whom he still believes to be Lawrence - on his own ... & to that end, it turns out he has hired Adam, a photographer, to follow Lawrence around ... but he did come up with little more than proof (or almost proof) that Lawrence has cheated on his wife - nothing could have been less interesting.

Anyways, while the Adam & Lawence still try to figure a way out of their not too comfy situation, Lawrence's wife & daughter are tied up in their own home with the killer, but wife Diana seems to be rather handy with knots, frees herself & almost overcomes the killer. A few shots are fired, which even startle ex detective Tapp, who has put up shop opposite Lawrence's appartment, but seems to be pretty useless in observing (he did see the killer show himself in the appartment's window but thought little of it).

Then the 2 race to the place where the killer holds Lawrence & Adam, but Lawrence has since sawed off his foot, got the gun from the dead man & shot Adam, like he was told.

Arriving, the killer, who has since killed Tapp & now turns out to be Zep (Michael Emerson), an orderly at the hospital Lawrence works at (do we need to know that ? No, we don't), is little impressed that Lawrence ahs finally killed Adam since he exceeded the time limit, but when he prepares to shoot Lawrence, Adam - who seems to be not really dead but only fatally wounded - overcomes him & beats him to a pulp.

The End ?

Hell, no, there are still these 2 guys lieing around in this bathroom, god-knows-where, one with a sawed off foot, the other half dead & chained up ... but Lawrence promises to get help, though he is losing so much blood he might not even make it out of the room alive ... & then, in an unnecessary & illogical twist, it turns out the real Jigsaw Killer was not Zep at all, but the body who has been lieing in between Lawrence & Adam, & who hasn't been dead after all (probably he just held his breath for 8 hours ... sheesh), & now locks half-dead Adam in for good.

& he might have been ... patient John (Tobin Bell) from Lawrence's hospital ... but it might as well have been farmer Bob, at this point I really stopped caring ...


What a pity, what a shame !

The film really starts nice, with 2 men who don't know each other, finding themselves in an absurd stressful situation that turns out to be a murderous game. & to make all of this even better, some really inventive (if also absurd) killing methods are presented (like a man caught in a maze of razor wire who has to get out in a set time, but only manages to cut himself to shreds, or the woman whose mouth is linked to a kind of reverse beartrap - that might spring open any time now ...).

But once this nice set-up is established, atrocious (mainstream) storytelling sets in that brings everything down like a sledgehammer. Suddenly everything needs to be explained away, & only with the worst of clichés, like the obsessive (ex-)cop who wants to avenge his dead partner (pleeeeeze, no more dead ex-partners), the little girl who is afraid of the boogey man in her cupboard, only to find out there is really a boogey man in her cupboard, the man who in a stress situation discovers his love for his family, ... & it's not at all helped either that the script always presents us with pointless suspects, which only distracts from the central story about the 2 men in the room while giving no useful information whatsoever. & when in the end, the killer turns out to be the (not really) dead body, it's jsut silly & almost an insult to anyone who has sat through the movie.

What a pity ...


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD