Note: So we’re a little late on this one, but better late than never! Enjoy!
“If it’s Halloween. It must be Saw“
It’s that special time of year again. As fall rolls around and trees start to lose their leaves in spectacular orange and red beauty the world prepares itself for another Halloween. Houses get decorated with spiderwebs, skeletons and ghastly ghouls, Costume shops pop up all over the city like weeds and all the horror movie lovers come out of their caves to declare their love for the genre. It’s the one time of the year where you can feel normal enjoying teenagers getting axed by masked murderers, teenagers getting possessed by angry demons and teenagers being tortured in gory and horrendous fashion by crazed madmen (those poor teenagers) as everyone gets together under cozy blankets and puts on their favourite horror movies to get into the spirit of this spooky holiday.
For a long time, Horror movies were NOT my thing. I avoided them like the plague. There was no way in hell you’d ever catch me watching any of these films. They terrified me to no end and I did not want to spend restless anxious nights awake and afraid that I’d be the next victim of some psychopath. The few Horror films I had seen as a kid was enough for me to decide to never pick another one up as long as I lived. Flash forward years and years later and I found myself becoming more and more intrigued by horror films. Feeling it was time to face my fear once and for all, I took a Horror film class in University and from then on everything changed. I became a fan of the genre and wanted to get my hands on every classic and cult horror film I could watch. I finally got around to checking out every horror film that initially peaked my intrigue and one of those was the Saw series.
For me, it’s not October without watching the Saw series. Every year I marathon the entire series from start to finish and often include someone as part of this viewing trend. Sprinkled throughout I usually pop on other horror gems as well, but the one constant every year is always the Saw series. Saw was a major phenomenon when it came out, not only was it a sleeper hit but it would often be cited as the film that popularized the Torture Porn sub-category of Horror and brought it to the mainstream. No surprise there, after this came out cinemas would be flooded with movies from this genre, but none could hold a candle to the Saw series that absolutely dominated every Halloween (until Paranormal Activity came around and kicked it off its throne). I had not watched them when they first came out and my only exposure to the films was ads, word of mouth and my two years working as an usher at a movie theatre when Saw 5,6 and 7 came out.
Like everyone else, the concept intrigued me to no end. Putting people in traps that relate to some heinous behaviour in their lives as a “morality” lesson was captivating. I found myself asking my friends what happens int he movies, how do people get out of the traps, what the morality lessons were supposed to be. I couldn’t help it, that psychological element of the films had me hooked and I was beyond fascinated by it. I finally had given in and watched the entire series to quench this thirst I mysteriously had for this wild series. Somehow, that wasn’t enough, watching the series once, even twice didn’t fulfill me. I needed to know more about it, delve into the philosophy of Jigsaw and I wasn’t alone, there were plenty of Sawheads out there, dedicated to the series like I was, loving it and almost obsessed with it (though not obsessed in a weird way). It quickly became one of my favourite horror franchises that I find myself constantly revisiting and enjoying just as much as always.
Now, Saw isn’t for everyone that’s for sure, so I decided to go over the entire series once again just for you, the person who may be intrigued by it but not enough to actually watch it, and give you my own proposal scoop on what it is. From one fan to a passive viewer.
Heck, it’s Halloween too, so what better time to talk about them than any?
Here we go!
WARNING: THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD
What better place to start than with the first one. ( I mean, this is a marathon, it would be weird for me to start right in the middle. This isn’t Star Wars). The movie that started it all. Created by Leigh Whannell and James Wan, two filmmakers with an incredibly low budget who wanted to make their own horror movie. Due to their limited budget, they came up with the idea of two guys waking up in a bathroom changed to the wall. From there they asked themselves, why are they chained to the wall? What’s the purpose? What’s going on here? And from hat simplistic idea, the Jigsaw killer was created.
For those new to the series, Jigsaw is a serial killer who kidnaps his victims and puts them in traps of which they need to escape, usually mutilating themselves in the process. The people he puts in traps are people he deems are not appreciating their lives enough and often times creates a trap that reflects their vice with the goal of rehabilitating them and giving them a newfound appreciation of life. A form of therapy that, especially as the series progresses, as a much higher failure rate than success, and is oftentimes very questionable about his moral standards, but then again he is a serial killer and we’re not supposed to side with him (even if some people actually think his morality is solid… it’s not, even if he believes otherwise).
Despite its reputation for being extremely gory and graphic, the first in the series is actually very tame, with a lot of the gruesome bits happening off-screen and left to the imagination. The way people have talked about the series you enter this one fully expecting a shocking display of severed limbs and blood but instead it the movie feels more like a psychological thriller than the horror icon it would eventually become. It definitely has it’s squeamish moments, with the lead, Dr. Gordon cutting off his own foot and the famous Amanda cutting into her cellmate to find a key in his stomach. But once again, this surprisingly mostly happens off-screen, unlike the movies that would follow. I guess their budget for prosthetics just got better. This is also the introduction of what would become their most iconic trap, The Reverse Bear Trap, which would appear multiple times before the audience finally got to see it in action (Amanda successfully escapes it).
Out of the entire series, it’s definitely the one that feels the most grounded. The pacing is slow enough to experience actual characterization of the two men shackled to the bathroom walls (played by Leigh Whannell and Cary Elwes of The Princess Bride fame trying their best to hide their Australian and British accents respectively). Simultaneously we also follow two detectives (one played by Donald Glover, how did they get this cast?) trying to unravel the Jigsaw crimes and catch the culprit.
This movie is more thrilling than scary and is pretty solid overall. For those not interested in the Saw franchise, this would be the one movie I’d say to check out because it hasn’t become torture porn just yet and has enough twists and turns to keep invested. Let us not forget the famous twist at the end where the dead body that’s been lying in the pool of blood the whole time gets up and reveals himself to be the Jigsaw killer the whole time. WHAT A TWIST! Nobody saw that coming and impacted the viewers pretty heavily. And with a concept like this and a twist that wild, a sequel was inevitable.
Notable Traps: Reverse Bear Trap, Bathroom Trap.
I give this one Seven Severed Foots.
SAW II (2005)
Only a year later and the world was already getting a sequel to the sleeper hit that was the Saw film. This time with Darren Lynn Bousman as the director, who was shopping around a script for a movie about people trapped in a house. It was eventually picked up and seen as a great idea for a Saw sequel and the two were combined for what could be considered a relatively mediocre Saw movie. I can’t say I was very impressed with this one and found myself disappointed overall and my disappointment grows with every viewing and I’m constantly left wanting more from this one.
Briefly, Jigsaw is back and has trapped a bunch of criminals in a house that’s slowly filling up with poison gas that will kill them within two hours. Their only way out? Finding syringes with antidotes placed in traps throughout the house. The kicker? One of the victims is the son of Detective Matthews (Played by Donnie Wahlberg) and all the criminals around him have been falsely convicted by the detective himself. With a cast of new Detectives (since the two from the first died) they manage to discover where Jigsaw is hiding out. Jigsaw, AKA John Kramer as we learn, has a simple rule for the detective, stay there and chat with him and he will find his son in a safe place. Oh yeah, the events in the house are also being projected onto tv monitors that they can watch and you better believe as the movie progresses and things escalate that the hot-headed Detective Matthews is slowly coming to a boiling point.
This sequel is in the sort of transitional state where the traps aren’t ridiculous enough to be considered incredibly gory (although it does have it’s a fair share of hard to watch moments) and the series itself hasn’t become convoluted enough for the viewer to really be that invested yet. It felt like this movie served more like a purpose to get John Kramer (played excellently by Tobin Bell who is the one person carrying the entire series on his shoulders and easily the best part of it all) more to the forefront as the main character. We spend most of the movie learning about his philosophy and how he came about it. Apparently, he had been diagnosed with cancer and faced with death he tried to kill himself, being unsuccessful eh felt he came out of the experience like a phoenix rising from the ashes, reborn with a new outlook on life. This also turned him into a psychopath as he tried to bring this idea to random people. I do find this to be relatively intriguing and does hold the film together a bit because the trap house is a bit of a mess.
Something you start to notice with this entry in the series is how dumb a lot of the victims in the traps tend to be. There are so many instances in this film where if the characters took the time to properly assess things then their outcomes would have been different (the movie probably wouldn’t be as entertaining though if that were the case). One of the victims is this large neanderthal man whose all muscle and sawdust for brains. One of my favourite moments is when he tries smashing open the front door of the house that is clearly barricaded by metal bars and one of the female victims (I honestly can’t tell you what any of their names are because they did a bad job of doing that) exclaims “Well we know the macho bullsh*t doesn’t work” and it got a solid laugh out of me. To their credit, the actors are doing the best they can with the material they’re working with and put in decent performances, but for a movie that should have upped the carnage a bit, they spend a lot of time walking around the house looking for traps and puking blood rather than being in the action. We only get to see three traps for three of the people and you’re left wondering what the traps for the rest of the group would have been like.
Speaking of traps, this movie has some of the most horrendous traps out of the series. Unlike future movies where they become hard to watch due to their goriness, these ones come across much more realistic and instead of leaving you with an “ew gross” reaction you feel very uncomfortable watching it. The most famous is the Needle Pit Trap, where Amanda (surprise she’s back again) is thrown in by a macho, macho man and she has to dig through these used needles looking for a key to unlock a safe. I can watch limbs being severed, twisted, smashed, but watching someone dig through a pit of needles is just the worst.
Once again the movie ends with a few twists! It seems the video feed they were watching of the game had already happened and they were watching a taped version and Daniel (Detective Matthews’ Son) was in the same room the whole time. Too bad Detective Matthews failed at his game and let his rage take over him because now he’s changed to the bathroom from the first film and left to rot… oops. And oh yeah! Amanda is revealed to be an accomplice of Jigsaw and has been helping him since she escaped her trap, a double twist!! Even if she isn’t intimidating in the least.
This sequel has some shining moments but overall falls a little flat as we haven’t quite hit what makes a Saw movie a Saw movie just yet.
I give this one Three Antidotes and a Bottomless Needle Pit.
Notable traps: Venus Fly Trap, Needle Pit.
SAW III (2006)
A year later and Saw III is now out and everyone is excited! I think… I do remember this being such a huge phenomenon at the time. All my friends in High School were hooping and hollering about it and it was only rising in popularity with each new sequel. You better believe they went to see this on opening night.
I always found this one to be one of the most interesting Saw films in terms of the main trap. The main victim this time around is a man named Jeff who lost his son in a fatal car accident. The grief has over-consumed Jeff to the point that he’s neglected his wife and daughter and is seeking revenge on the driver that hit his son, playing this scenario over and over. Seeing Grief and Vengeance as no way to live your life, Jigsaw puts Jeff to the test where he will travel from room to room and confront the people involved in the trial and death of his son, an eye witness who didn’t testify, the judge who sentenced the driver a much smaller sentence than he deserved and finally, the driver himself.
What I love about this is how all the traps are related to what the main victim is going through, this was well thought out as a game for him and you can tell the victim is really going through heavy-duty emotional turmoil as he makes the choice to either save these people from death as he does not want to be a murderer himself or let them die and fulfill his desire for vengeance. It’s clear that he’s become so overwhelmed by these emotions because it takes him a long time before he decides to save them and it’s sometimes a little too late. He tries to save the eye-witness who is chained up in a freezer being sprayed with freezing water but is too late as when he arrives with the key to unlock her, she is already a block of ice.
One of the best moments is when he needs to save the judge by burning the possessions of his son that he has clung onto for so long. It’s both a literal and metaphorical letting go of the trauma and it’s actually kind of poetic in a way and it’s moments like these where I remember what I love about this series. Even the final moment where he meets the driver, he is hung up on a rack, literally crucified for his actions and Jeff is asked if he’d be willing to take a bullet for this man. I did feel that Jigsaw was doing a little overkill with this one, like did this person really deserve to suffer the torture of feeling every limb he has slowly twisted to breaking point before he died? I do feel some people in these films get it much easier than others and there doesn’t seem to be any real rhyme or reason as to who gets what. You do feel bad for the guy because it’s a pretty horrible way to die.
Unfortunately, while this is happening we also get the b-story. That’s John Kramer on his death bed with Amanda and a kidnapped doctor who is forced to keep him alive as long as possible. This is where Amanda starts to get infuriatingly annoying and it’s difficult to get through her scenes. It’s hard to take her seriously and now we have to be subjected to graphic brain surgery. These scenes are sadly not as engaging as they should be, even with Tobin Bell doing his best. We are also subjected to what will be a Saw movie trope, the flashback. The film is trying to fill in the blanks that the previous films didn’t answer, we get to see what happened to Adam after Dr. Gordon left him in the bathroom, we see how Amanda has been helping Jigsaw out, we get a glimpse into Jigsaw’s memory and some mystery woman in his life. Man who knew Jigsaw could feel love. Throughout the whole movie, Amanda is just being a whiny baby and is jealous of the relationship that Jigsaw is forming with the kidnapped surgeon. This culminates in Amanda losing it and basically saying what we’ve all been thinking “It’s all bullsh*t, nobody is rehabilitated, these people don’t deserve to live”.
Forgot to mention, the police have been tracking down more Saw traps and can you believe they have all been rigged to be unwinnable??? WHAT?! But isn’t Jigsaw’s philosophy meant to be that the victim survives the trap in order to learn a lesson? Well, lo and behold Jigsaw didn’t design those traps, Amanda did and that really sucks because we lose one of our favourite detectives, Detective Kerry, to a trap that she manages to succeed but die in any way. Tsk tsk.
If that wasn’t a good enough twist for you, don’t worry this movie is filled with them! I hope you’re taking notes for this one, here we go: So it seem the surgeon that has been helping this whole time is Jeff’s wife, info that wasn’t given to Amanda, who was being tested once again by Jigsaw because he didn’t like that she was making the traps unwinnable, so she shoots the surgeon as Jeff is walking in, only to get shot by Jeff and die. Jeff now confronts Jigsaw who has a final test for Jeff to see if he can truly forgive and asks Jeff to forgive him for putting him in the traps, Jeff being an idiot forgive shim but kills him too causing the shock collar that’s around his wife’s neck to go off and kill her. Oh yeah, also Jeff’s daughter is somewhere in the building and only the now dead Jigsaw knows her location. Looks like Jeff made a big Oopsie.
So that was a mouthful but I have to say overall was relatively satisfying. I think the writing for this one was on a slight high compared to most Saw films and the twists don’t feel forced and are rather shocking, but maybe that has to do with the fact that there’s so many thrown at you at once that it gives the illusion that it’s incredible. I don’t know, but it does feel like it’s wrapped up nicely.
I give this one a vat of pig guts and six twisted limbs.
Notable Traps: The Angel Trap, The Rack, The Classroom Trap
SAW IV (2007)
This is where the Saw franchise starts to get ridiculous and confusing. With John Kramer now dead, the only way they can keep Tobin Bell in the film is through flashbacks, and this movie is just filled with them. Jigsaw’s origin story has become so important at this point that these movies are basically Jigsaw Origins with the main trap thrown in. I hope you’re invested in his character because you will be learning more than you ever thought you needed to know to start where. This is also the movie where The Saw franchise basically solidified itself as Torture Porn as the traps became more gruesome.
With most of the cops dead, we are introduced to a new set of characters with only two returning from previous films, Lieutenant Riggs who has been around since the second one and becomes the main victim, and Detective Hoffman, who had a small role in the third one. Riggs has been obsessed with trying to save everyone that it’s causing his life to crumble and put a strain on his relationship with his wife (fiance? Girlfriend?). Jigsaw has a lesson for Riggs, you can’t save everyone and he has to understand Jigsaw’s philosophy of letting people save themselves. This is made tougher for Riggs who is told that Detective Matthews, who has been missing for six months, is still alive and it’s up to Riggs to see if he can truly learn to save a life.
This is where we start to question what Jigsaw is all about, his victims usually commit crimes or are morally terrible people, but Riggs wants to save everyone… why is that a bad thing. It’s debatable that the reason he’s in a trap is not for moral reasons but because he’s not appreciating his life enough due to his obsession, but it also feels like Jigsaw is now targeting all the cops on his case just so he can get rid of them… who knows, but it does lend itself for an intriguing moral lesson as Riggs goes from place to place in the city learning to Save as He Saves, See as he Sees and all that Jigsaw jazz. Definitely interesting but now so many factors have been thrown in, it’s crazy to think he could get away with all this. Riggs is running around in public places, how has no one seen him? How were these traps even set there int he first place? The police are right behind him, how have they not caught up with him yet?
It’s also clear that at this point Jigsaw is basically an omniscient god, he somehow knows how everything will pan out. At the end of the third movie we see him swallow one of his tapes which are played at the beginning of this movie during his graphic autopsy. So he knew he was going to die at the end of the third one? How could he possibly know that? Speaking of, how did he even know all the events of the third one would work out perfectly as they did? In this one, he leaves a message for the two FBI agents that are so incredibly specific and they both come true… how the hell did he know that would happen??? When I said it’s starting to get ridiculous this is what I meant and the more you start to think about it the more everything starts to unravel… and it makes it hilariously entertaining at this point.
This movie seems to have done away with answers and decided to leave more questions than anything. The movie starts with a trap that has no tape played at the beginning, which is a first and last, so you have no idea who these two people are and why you should care. Riggs test has mild explanations but is explained enough to truly understand what it’s all about, leaving you to fill in the blanks with your own perceptions and if this wasn’t enough, of course, there’s a twist at the end! And what a twist it is! Apparently, this whole movie was happening at the same time as the third one was happening…. WHAT?! UNBELIEVABLE. So Jigsaw wasn’t actually dead through this trap but was instead on his death bed getting surgery, which means when he claimed that the games weren’t over in his autopsy tape it wasn’t in reference to this one in this movie but more?!?! Also! He’s had another accomplice this whole time, recycling that great twist. That’s right, the brutish Detective Hoffman was helping Jigsaw this whole time.
Ayayay, so if it’s your first time watching this series and you’re watching them one after another, this is quite a lot of information to soak up at once. The only real solace you can get is that they don’t disappoint with the traps here and they are a wild ride from start to end to watch. We even get to see the very first trap Jigsaw ever did, on a drug addict who caused the loss of his son (Oh right there’s a whole plot with his ex-wife being interrogated and she was pregnant and they lost it and that set him off to be a psychopath… yeah, we also learn he was a civil engineer, which is why he can make all these traps, and that creepy puppet was supposed to be for his son… yikes). The most notable trap is a lady and her husband are hung from the ceiling with large metal spikes piercing their bodies. It seems her husband is physically abusive to her and she never does anything about it, so paralleling this, she must remove the spikes, which would hurt her but she would heal but would fatally kill her husband. Can she unchain herself from this relationship or idly standby and bleed out, this has a very satisfying outcome.
Anyway, Rigg fails his test, Detective Matthews Dies, Rigg Dies, Art Blank dies, John Kramer dies again, Jeff dies, everyone dies except for Hoffman who stands up and walks away smiling. With this many loose ends left, I guess we just had to have another sequel.
I give this one two unsecured doors and a bouncing baby boy.
Notable Traps: The Mausoleum Trap, The Scalping Seat, The Bedroom Trap, The Spike Trap
SAW V (2008)
New year, new Saw movie and new director! Which wasn’t a good idea because this Saw movie is bland and uninteresting. You wouldn’t think that to be possible but this Saw movie manages to somehow be completely uninteresting and the traps are nothing special either sadly. That’s a shame because the movie starts with a bang with one of the craziest traps inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum and once again… it’s unwinnable! Was this an Amanda trap? Was this Hoffman? Will this be the new twist? No, they explain it pretty quickly that it was Hoffman pretending to be Jigsaw to kill the murderer who murdered his sister. I’m not even easing you into these plot points anymore, I’m just sharing them upfront now, deal with it.
If that’s any indication of what this movie is like, you’re in for a treat. Saw V is essentially flashback central. If you thought Saw IV was bursting with flashbacks, then Saw V is chock-full of them, it’s bursting at the seams it’s so full. Gotta keep Tobin Bell in it and need to explain how Hoffman became involved in all of this because… that’s something everyone asked for. The series is trying it’s hardest at this point to keep everything going and it doesn’t help that we have our FBI agent, who sometimes confusingly looks like Hoffman, speaking all his thoughts out loud as if the audience is stupid… joy.
Oh yeah, there’s also a trap or something happening at the same time? I Think? I don’t know, it’s tough to stay engaged in this one. It’s the only Saw film I find myself flipping through my phone out of boredom. The stakes are low, the tension is non-existent and the main trial is not invigorating in the least…
Ok… so… (takes a breath) five strangers wake up in a room, apparently, they’re connected in some way and must go from room to room doing the traps and one person dies in each room. These are five who give a crap, people who did some who care thing and due to the number of flashbacks in this movie, it’s as if it forgot that this main trial was happening and goes back to it after some long pauses in between each room. These characters are so bland that it’s hard to really care about their trial and the traps aren’t incredibly interesting. One is they have to be in a bathtub and administer a shock to themselves to open a door… ooooh exciting…
There’s, of course, a big twist at the end and boy is this the most anti-climactic and least impactful twist of the whole series. Two surviving people of the trial (out of five, get it? Saw V, five victims? DURHURR) end up in the final room and big shock, they realize all five of them were supposed to make it to the end. They all thought that one had to die in each room even though Jigsaw made it very clear to not listen to their impulses and work together… idiots. That’s pretty much it and now they each have to give up five pints of blood to escape… too bad I just don’t care.
Speaking of idiots, the FBI agent hot on Hoffman’s trail is the biggest one of them all. He finds a tape that basically tells him to just trust Jigsaw and enter some box, last time he didn’t listen to Jigsaw he was put into a trap, you’d think he’d have learned his lesson by now but nope. it’s made abundantly clear that no one truly learns their lessons at all in these movies anyway. He stupidly stops the tape halfway and has a scuffle with Hoffman and fails his test before he even gets a chance to listen to the entire tape, which is hilarious because the end of the tape essentially tells him if he doesn’t listen to him, he’ll die and now he’s dead. Oh well, too bad.
If you had to skip any Saw film, I’d say skip this one, it doesn’t really add much to the lore except Hoffman’s background which really… who cares?
I give this one Five lazy writers and a box of water
Notable traps: Pit and Pendulum Trap, Water Box
Saw VI (2009)
Who would have thought that after the incredibly lacklustre Saw V they would release what I would consider the best Saw film? The sixth Saw is a wild ride from start to finish and is my all-time favourite Saw film. The traps are creative, the characters are engaging, the trial is fascinating and captivating and even the flashbacks, for the most part, are intriguing. This is the wildest Saw yet but they somehow manage to not make it an over the top ridiculous ride.
Saw gets oddly political with this one where John Kramer targets the insurance company he was part of that rejected his coverage for his cancer treatment. The entire trial centers around the VP of Umbrella Health who now has people’s lives literally in his hands as he has to make decisions of people who work for him on whether they will live or die and SOMEONE HAS TO DIE. What’s great about this is the main lead int he trial is really going through a lot of emotional turmoil here, better acting than any Saw movie deserves, where he clearly doesn’t want to make the decisions in each trap but realities he has no choice and feels an insurmountable amount of guilt and pain for each murder he has on his hands. There’s a great one where two of his employees, his elderly secretary and young file clerk, are hanging by barbed wire and he has to choose one to let go to be hanged. According to Jigsaw, the secretary should die according to the company’s policy because she’s old and has a history of diabetes, while the young file clerk is a healthy young man, but the secretary also has close family that she would be a loss too and the File clerk has no living relatives. When faced with this he is now having the hardest time of his life on who he has to choose (plus I don’t think anyone would actually want to murder anyone).
This is amped up when he’s in a room where his six best employees are strapped to a carousel and placed in front of a shotgun randomly and he has to make the decision which two of the three will come out of it alive. You see him placing his hands on the button before one even is placed in front of the shotgun showing that if he could he’d save every single one of them. And even though we only see these characters super briefly, they’re actually given some personality! which is more than can be said for the main victims in the fifth one who could have easily been replaced by mannequins and it wouldn’t have changed,
What I like is that the series is starting to be self-aware at this point. Characters are recognizing Jigsaw and know they’re in a trap before the tape even starts playing. That started with the fifth one where the five victims wake up and mention that it can’t be a Jigsaw trap because he’s dead but knows full well that it most probably is with some of them even exclaiming they knew it would happen at some point. With this one, William can even be seen terrified of the possibility of it happening to him as he watches a news report that mentions that even though Jigsaw is dead that the traps are still happening. As he reminisces about his past experiences with John Kramer, you can tell that he feels that he could be abducted at any moment (and he does almost immediately after).
The A story is absolutely fantastic, sadly the B story can be a bit of a drag as we get to learn more about Jigsaw’s ex-wife. A lot of flashbacks here seem to be tightening some loose threads from previous movies, but really don’t seem necessary. Like did we need to know what was written in Amanda’s letter in Saw 3? And that it was Hoffman who blackmailed her into killing the surgeon and that Amanda was also Cecil’s girlfriend and was there when Jigsaw’s baby was killed? Was anyone really asking these questions? by this point did anyone even really care about how the events in Saw 3 would relate to Saw 6? Thankfully due to the new director, Kevin Greutert’s (who was the editor on all the previous saw films) direction, the movie never loses steam due to these less than interesting scenes and still continues at a fast pace and manages to keep its tensions high!
Oh yeah, let’s not forget the big twist at the end! After William manages to make it to the end of his trial within his allotted time, he finds out, GASP!, this was not his game to play. In the end, he finds two rooms, one with his sister in it and the other with a mother and son who’s father died due to not getting coverage from William. Now, just like William, they have to make the decision whether he will live or die, he must now succumb to the same fate as many of his clients. It’s rather poetic in its justice even if it is a little misguided. Claiming he’s the one that killed their father is a little far-fetched, I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s the heart disease that killed him and even if he got the coverage, I’m sure the heart disease would have eventually killed him anyway… but I digress, this is still a blast to watch!
Plus, Hoffman gets tested with the famous Reverse Bear Trap and survives much to the disappointment of the audience who just want to see this trap in action!
It’s a wild ride from start to finish and I give this one Three Carousels of Death and a Vat of Hydroclauric acid.
Notable Traps: Pound of Flesh, The Oxygen Crusher, The Gallows, The Shotgun Carousel
Saw 3D (2010)
The Saw franchise is coming to an end and what better way tow rap up this ridiculous series than with an entry that is in 3D!! A useless gimmick that adds literally nothing to the experience of the film. This movie is the most ridiculous Saw movie of them all! It’s very clear from the get-go that this is a Saw film made for the fans. The traps are ridiculous and full of massive carnage (even if the blood looks a little pinker than it should). They aren’t here to scare you with their traps anymore, now they’re here to just entertain you with them. A notable one has a great cameo from Chester Bennington of Linkin Park (may he rest in peace) who needs to peel his back off a car seat he’s glued to and pull a brake to stop the car he’s in otherwise his three friends will be brutally murdered by it. You already see a clear change between this and traps from previous films, the music is replaced by fast-paced nu-metal and it’s so over the top that you can’t help but just love watching it rather than squeamishly look away. It’s a blast and a half.
Of course, there’s a story going on and with this final installment, it’s clear they’re trying to tie up every single loose end that the series has presented with the biggest question of all being answered: What happened to Dr. Gordon after the events of the first film? The movie starts with what everyone wanted to see, Gordon himself crawling away, bleeding profusely and cauterizing his wound on a hot pipe. Doesn’t answer much but at least we know he’s still alive… I bet you can guess where this is all going to lead.
This wouldn’t be a Saw movie if there wasn’t a main victim with a trial to go through and this one is a whopper. Bobby Dagen is a man trying to profit on the crimes of Jigsaw, having released a book that chronicles his experience in a Jigsaw trap and how he learned to appreciate his life afterwards. But whoopsie poopsie, he’s a massive liar! He was never in a Jigsaw trap and wouldn’t you guess, uh-oh, now he is. To be honest, I don’t know how he expected to get away with this especially since Jigsaw would find out and be like “I never tested this man, what the hell?”. But he clearly wasn’t thinking and now he finds himself going from room to room trying to save his publicist, lawyer and business partner before reaching the end to save his wife to whom he has also lied to. This guy is despicable and it’s so pleasing to see him fail massively. It wouldn’t be a final Saw movie without everyone dying, you’d have to have expected that!
Back to the whole Dr. Gordon story, he appears again at a support group session with surviving saw victims. Bobby is obviously crappily trying to monetize this for his own personal gain and Gordon confronts him in a very menacingly way that it’s incredibly obvious that he’s working with Jigsaw… and big shock! He is. He’s been doing all the complicated medical surgeries to all the victims who were found with keys inside them or eyes sewn shut. It’s not shocking especially since this twist keeps getting recycled over and over again, but at least we finally know, right? Whatever.
Oh yeah, Hoffman also goes on a killing spree trying to find Jill Tuck, basically killing everyone that’s in his way. There must be at least 200 people who die in this movie by Hoffman’s hands alone. He gets Jill and we finally get to see the Reverse Bear Trap in action!!! And it’s everything the fans ever wanted.
Does this final film wrap up the series nicely? Not really, they manage to answer a lot of questions the fans had but by doing so they somehow created even more questions. Also with this final installment, they really mess up the whole timeline. If you stop and think about it, there’s no way the Jigsaw killings could have been famous enough to be an epidemic for Bobby to hear about and write a book, publish it and get recognition for it in the established events of when we know the first Jigsaw Killing to be to now. I mean, you really shouldn’t think about it because it is just a movie, but when you do it really messes with your head as you try to make sense of it all. It’s goddamn hilarious how much the timeline is screwed at this point.
I give this one ten gallons of pink blood and a homicide of 600 people.
Notable Traps: Public Execution Trap, Horsepower Trap, Silence Circle, Hangman’s Noose, Reverse Bear Trap
Jigsaw (2017) + Conclusion
I feel it only appropriate to use the last film in the series as a conclusion to this article as well. Coming out seven years after the last film, the story itself even takes place ten years after the death of the famous killer, but a new trap seems to have started in vain of the Jigsaw killings… could this be Jigsaw is back? As the story progresses it only seems that Jigsaw is somehow alive and well again, they even unearth his grave to find his body is not there… what is going on?
It’s clear that the fans of the series are still heavily invested in it for them to have created a new film all these years later in an attempt to reboot the series. You better believe I went to see it in theatres when it came out and Tobin Bell was even back to play the titular villain! There’s even a character in the film that is representative of the fans, she’s obsessed with the Jigsaw lore to the point of owning her own warehouse where she has recreated a ton of his traps from blueprints she found online. Maybe a little much, but it’s not far off from how some hardcore fans are and you can tell the makers of Jigsaw were very well aware of the phenomena that were the Saw series and how it had impacted not only cinema in general but it’s ever dedicated fan base.
Sadly, this film does not feel like a Saw film. it’s incredibly tame, with practically less gore than the first film and feels more like a detective drama than a Saw film (not even a thriller). The main trial is also incredibly lacklustre with a group of strangers making their way through a barn and their only escape is confessing crimes they committed… the only problem is some of these crimes, there’s no way in hell that Jigsaw would have ever known about this. the philosophy behind it is very intriguing, people being unable to face their actions when they need to confess, but is so poorly executed that some of the characters come across as severely idiotic. One girl needs to pick an antidote to save her life, and she even knows which one it is! But for whatever reason doesn’t take it. Now, if we had delved into the philosophy of confession a little more, maybe this would have made more sense, but instead, she just looks like a moron and it’s incredibly frustrating. The only trap that feels like a trap is the Blender and is probably the only moment in the film where I felt like I was watching a saw movie and even then the death happens so quickly it’s practically anti-climactic.
It’s hard for me to call this one a Saw film that I barely feel like I can even include it as part of the series. It’s almost like a stand-alone Saw film that some fans wanted to make on their own. Even the twist is absolutely ridiculous. Not only do they recycle the “this person has been working for Jigsaw all this time” twist but there’s an added twist that the trial you’re watching isn’t even happening during the police investigation but was a trial that happened ten years before, when Jigsaw was still alive, even before the events of the first movie, which makes no sense because not only does it mean nothing to the police investigation (like why recreate a Jigsaw trap that no one even knew about anyway?) and the whole movie Jigsaw is using Flat Screen HD TVs instead of his usual crap TV and VCR tapes… This twist is only used to trick the audience and makes zero sense in the story itself. Plus… we now have this new guy who’s been helping Jigsaw since even before Amanda? But then why did we never see him in any of the other films? Oh yeah because this twist is bullcrap. Also, the only reason he’s doing this ten years later is for revenge for a detective he doesn’t like… so it’s not even part of John Kramer’s plan and has nothing to do with Jigsaw in the first place… so… what?
Yeah, it’s very clear at this point the series really screwed itself and with a new sequel/reboot coming around soon by Chris Rock, you better believe I will still go see it. You see, that’s the thing about the Saw movies. It doesn’t matter how bad they are, how dumb they get, how ridiculous they become because that only adds to the enjoyment of the series. I’ll watch a bad Saw movie any time because of how enjoyable the series is. As fans we’ve become invested in the messy timeline and the absurd traps and trials that we are just so damn curious as to what they’ll do with the next one. They could screw it up royally, but I honestly wouldn’t want it any other way. What are your thoughts on the Saw movies?