31 Days of Horror 2023: Would You Like to Play a Game?

It all started here.

Look: there’s not much to it. It’s less than ten minutes long. Only a speck in the grand scheme of movie-making, a tiny spark with just enough story and flair to keep the viewer interested.

But it was enough.

It was enough for producer Gregg Hoffman to give the neophyte filmmaking team of James Wan and Leigh Whannell some money to go make a little horror movie. That movie went on to gross more than $103 million dollars after its 2004 theatrical release.

It was enough to start a cultural conversation about a possibly non-existent subgenre of horror called “torture porn.” How much is too much? Where do you draw the line with gore and tense situations? How did all that controversy stem from this short film that barely shows any blood?

It was enough to lay the groundwork for new phrases in the popular vernacular.

“I want to play a game.”
Reverse bear-trap.
“Live or die. Make your choice.”

It was enough to begin a franchise 10 films deep, mostly despised by critics put popular enough to pull in over $1 billion dollars worldwide. It was enough to make some audience members excited and others sick to their stomachs. It was enough to introduce Billy, that damned creepy puppet on the oversized tricycle. It was enough to provide an inkling about the moral ambiguity of the demented motivational speaker known as John Kramer. You might know him better by another name.


Almost 20 years later, through twists and turns, retcons and a dogged refusal to adhere to non-linear storytelling, the franchise still divides and delights viewing audiences with creativity, cunning and oh, so much blood.

This year for 31 Days of Horror, we’ll be celebrating the madness of the SAW franchise. As things in October become progressively weird and dark, remember one thing.

It all started here.

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