This chapter traces the production history of SAW (2004). The film was initially conceived and filmed as a short by its creators, James Wan and Leigh Whannell, in order to create a 'calling card' for potential backers. However, backers were suitably impressed, and the two received enough capital to expand SAW into a full-length cinema release. It is interesting to consider how such an apparently humble text as SAW, one that propagates such abject, extreme imagery, has caught the public imagination. Like other game-changing horror successes, SAW's budget was, by Hollywood standards, very low. However, low-budget successes are familiar to horror, with fans expectant of, and even encouraged by, a film's lowly roots. The distributors of SAW were quick to capitalise on the film's genre appeal. Lionsgate released the film, and every subsequent sequel, on the weekend before Halloween. This savvy marketing strategy imbued each film with the aura of an 'event' release. The impact of SAW on the genre industry is discernible in the extreme horror films that followed on from its success, films that emphasised their gory content and focused on themes of pain and suffering.
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