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November 01, 2004 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-01

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12A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 1, 2004



Grisly 'SAW' provides Halloween horror

By Ian Dickinson
Daily Arts Writer

By transcending the fears of the
everyday, James Wan, director of
the new psychological horror film
"SAW," delivers a horrifying look
at the world of a sadistic serial
killer. The unconventional thriller

delves into terri-
tory beyond the
scope of similar
films ("Se7en,"
"Silence of the
Lambs") and
manages to cre-

At Showcase
and Quality 16
Lions Gate Films

ate an environ-
ment that is both physically brutal
and psychologically unnerving.
Starring Cary Elwes ("The Prin-
cess Bride") and Leigh Whannell
("The Matrix: Reloaded") as two
strangers held against their will in
a restroom by the mysterious Jig-
saw Killer, who kidnaps his victims
and forces them to kill or be killed,
"SAW" explains the killer's his-
tory through a complicated series of
As a film, "SAW" has its faults,
including relatively poor acting that
features Danny Glover as a stereo-
typical black detective, a role which
already seemed hackneyed when he
co-starred in "Lethal Weapon" 17
years ago. Nor are the characters
particularly well-developed. Elwes
and Whannell's characters' back-
grounds aren't fully made available
until the final third of the movie,
which makes for a confusing and
cluttered finale.
As a vehicle of the horror genre,
however, "SAW" is haunting. It pro-
vokes in the viewer everything a hor-
ror movie should. The film exudes
suffering and fear, while Wan man-
ages to synthesize disturbing atmo-
spherics with action and gore. Even
when the film is focused on the
imagery of a grisly murder, Wan
provokes anxiety with a regimen
of tight shots and confusing effects
that disorient the viewer before he is

fully capable of understanding the
situation, which helps make the film
more frightening.
Wan's ability to manage two dis-
tinct plot lines is also admirable.
While keeping the viewer focused
on the events unfolding in the archa-
ic urban bathroom now functioning
as a veritable dungeon, flashbacks
are used to explore the history of
the killer and the quest to apprehend
him. "SAW's" most frightening
moments occur when the film goes
back to old crime scenes inspected
by Glover. Wan, for every crime
scene, reenacts what happened in
dizzying and mortifying sequences
as heavy on visual effects as they
are on blood.
"SAW" differs from influences
such as "Se7en" and "Silence of the
Lambs" in its focus. While other
thrillers overdevelop the apprehen-
sion theme and the crime drama,
Wan centers on the murders them-
selves. The police investigations in
"SAW" are all conduits for more
horror, rather than breaks from
action. There are absolutely no lulls
in "SAW" that give the viewer a
brief respite. Rather, the film is a
relentless onslaught of sadism with-
out pause.
For all its gore, though, the film
attempts to be intelligent and multi-
faceted. Well-made though it is,
"SAW" also tries to give the kill-
ings a philosophical legitimacy. The
Jigsaw Killer, as he is explained in
the film, targets society's "weak,"
for a sort of nihilistic subplot. It's
relatively hit-or-miss but provides a
refreshing twist on the genre.
The film also has a game theme to
it compelling the viewer to discover
the killer's identity. Comprehen-
sive investigation scenes, like those
employed in most films of the genre,
are redundant because the audience
is already running through the clues
in its collective mind. The use of the
game aspect and the philosophical
undertones add extra dimensions to
the film.
"SAW" does have its flaws, but
thanks to Wan's directorial innova-

Beautiful Girls have
little to say on 'Learn'

Oh, I get it. They're trying to be IRONIC.

By Jacob Nathan
For the Daily
With their first full-length album,
Learn Yourself; the Australian-based
Beautiful Girls show why they should not
record a second. This album is a melting
pot of mediocre rap, reggae, roots and
funk. Despite a few
instances of pretty
instrumentation Beautiful
and pleasing har- Girls
monies, this album Learn Yourself
has nothing new San Dumo
to offer. The lyr-
ics, while attempt-
ing to be deep and thought-provoking,
prove to be shallow and meaningless.
Derivative and trite do not begin to
describe this uninteresting album.
Through seeking to capture what made
Jack Johnson - who is thanked in the
liner notes - remotely interesting for
a short while, the Beautiful Girls have
failed dismally, and demonstrated that
even on their debut, their sound is stale
and exhausted.
The songs on the album that feature
rapping are laughably bad. This band is
incapable of producing rap that would
allow the listener to take them seriously,
as they cannot escape goofy inflections
and nasal delivery. The poor acoustic.
guitar progressions in the background
do not help their cause. The rhythm is
uninspired and choppy, thus making the
songs difficult to listen to. This is most
noticeable on the tragic "Music," on
which lead singer Matt McHugh ironi-
cally repeats the line, "I got music / And
it makes me feel alright ... I got music /
And it takes away the pain." It remains
to be seen if this music will do anything
but the opposite of those bold claims.
On a few songs, when the band real-
'.44. 4w44

44 ,,. 14 .


I'm STILL too old for this shit.
tion and a superb ending, the film
ranks as one of the scariest horror
films of the last 10 years. It's a film

that tests the limits of decency to
an extent that makes it almost evil,
which in this case is wonderful.

izes they aren't Public Enemy,.there is
room for hope. The one bright spot is
the song "La Mar (The Ocean)," which
reveals that given the right material,
McHugh's voice can transcend the medi-
ocrity of Beautiful Girls's weak genre.
The bluesy background makes this song
at best good, and at worst, pleasant.
This small success is quickly forgot-
ten, however, when the rest of the album
is digested. Instead of sticking to the
low-key folksy style that caters to the
band's strengths, they attempt to make
themselves much funkier than could
ever be possible for these archetypal
white surfer dudes. The song "Cash
Money" represents a tremendous failure
as the band tries to fuse their style with
a country-western tinge. The horrendous
"Black Bird" shows that this band can-
not ever have anything remotely resem-
bling an edge to their music. The title
track, "Learn Yourself," offers pseudo-
religious imagery in the lyrics mixed
with high-school-level philosophical
Despite their best efforts to produce
something original and valuable, Beau-
tiful Girls have succeeded in doing
exactly the opposite. The songs are
muddy and indistinguishable, with the
whole project lacking focus and direc-

'SAW' filmmakers discuss art of fright


e.. 5... ...... DS..i.--

By Linasey Bieber
Daily Arts Writer

How do two 27-year-old Aussies with no profes-
sional experience write and direct their own movie
with A-list actors and the support of a Hollywood
studio? They make a low-budget indie film centered
on a one room set in an abandoned warehouse.
And, of course, a little bit of sweat, talent and luck
helped, too.
Director James Wan and writer/actor Leigh
Whannel met at film school, the Melbourne Insti-
tute of Technology, where they became friends. The
inspiration for "SAW," their debut script, emerged
from a combination of childhood nightmares and
the lack of money necessary for a film with more
than the few sets in the film and fuller complement
of actors.
They first tried to get the movie produced in Aus-
tralia but were turned down. "It's a frustrating mix-
ture of luck, timing and all this other stuff when it
comes to somebody giving you money," Whannel
remarked with his crisp accent. Their dedication to
the script finally paid off when the two showed the
only clip of the movie they had previously filmed
to Lions Gate Films in Los Angeles. They gained
the studio's interest and after showing them the first

rough cut, the deal was signed.
The directors faced a challenge in making the
film frightening to modern, jaded audiences. "Our
biggest fear was that it was going to turn into a
comedy. When you're making a horror film, you're
hoping it scares the hell out of people, not make
them laugh," Whannel commented.
The entire film was shot within 23 days, not
allowing for any down time on the set. "It was
the hardest thing I've ever had to do," explained
Wan. He said that it was a bit intimidating to work
with actors such as Danny Glover, Cary Elwes
and Monica Potter as a first-time director, but the
stress of making the movie left him with no time
to feel uncomfortable.
Whannel still sees the difficulty of a horror-
themed film standing the test of time. "A success-
ful movie is one that resonates with audiences
without being corny. Video stores are wastelands
of forgotten films; dinosaur remains. A select few
get remembered and you watch the films that get
remembered, so I guess a successful film is one that
does not get forgotten."
Whannel is still reluctant to admit to his celebrity
status. "You'll have to ask somebody that's famous,"
he comments. "It is cool to be on the other side for
a change though."

I V, WN a



Courtesy of Lions Gate Films
Conditions worsen at the Frieze Building .
Whannel knows how it feels to be in the public
eye in Australia because he hosted TV shows in ear-
lier years, but this will be all new for Wan. After
a sneak preview in Birmingham in early October,
the bouncers at the Blue Martini wouldn't let the
filmmakers in the bar because of their jeans. Maybe
after the nationwide premiere of "SAW," Whannel
and Wan will start to be recognized.

PUBLISHED ON Nov. 3, 1997





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or the Friday before a weekend
event at the UMS Ticket Office,
located in the Michigan League.
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at the performance hall Ticket

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'4. 4
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Le Concert Spirituel
Herv6 Niquet, music director
St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
Messe de Monsieur de Mauroy
Marche pour les trompettes
Te Deum

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You may be eligible for the study if:
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" You have not been a smoker within the past year
" Study-related assessments, albuterol inhalers,
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Kopemuan Uuartet
Rackham Auditorium


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