A surgeon (Cary Elwes) and a nobody (Leigh Whannell) wake up in a derelict bathroom, ankle-chained to pipes, with a corpse between them. They are the latest victims of 'Jigsaw', a tricky serial killer who plays games with victims, teaching them life lessons through torture. The doctor is ordered to find a way to kill the stranger within hours, or his wife and daughter will be executed.
'Saw', ingeniously co-scripted by Whannell and debuting director James Wan, is styled like early David Fincher and boasts an intricate structure - complex flashbacks-within-flashbacks explain how the characters have come to this crisis - and a satisfying mystery to go with its ghastly claustrophobia.
It's a series of squirm-inducing moments, with a creepy puppeteer villain, and strong performances.