The horror film “Saw 10” has been released online – a midquel to the torture franchise, the action of which takes place between the events of the first and second parts. Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith returned to play the roles of the serial killer Jigsaw and his student Amanda, and was directed by Kevin Grotert (he previously worked on most of the films as an editor, and also directed two himself). Gazeta.Ru film critic Pavel Voronkov watched the new film and decided to play a game – arrange all parts of the horror series in order from worst to best.
“Saw 3D” (“Saw 3D”), 2010, dir. Kevin Grotert
The seventh film in the series was positioned as the final one – and for the next seven years (until the release of the 2017 reboot) this was the case. The annual tradition of watching fresh fountains of blood and guts was interrupted on a not so happy note. By that time, it seems, even loyal fans were tired of the cycle, which is why the box office dropped, so it was decided to include the developments for two parts at once into one film. It didn’t help: okay, fans, but by the seventh “Saw”, “Saw” itself was tired of “Saw”. The franchise ran out of steam and gave up, sliding into absurd trash and torture for the sake of torture: in the “games” of the Designer it became basically impossible to defeat (by that time, one of Tobin Bell’s hero’s students, detective Mark Hoffman, had long been operating under this nickname, and testing someone’s or “the will to live” was not his main task). This means that it became completely uninteresting to watch what was happening. Nevertheless, “Saw 3D” managed to reach a spectacular (stupid, but effective) finale, returning to the screen the same Dr. Lawrence Gordon from the first film.
“Saw: Spiral” (“Spiral: From the Book of Saw”), 2020, dir. Darren Lynn Bousman
The Saw spin-off seemed like a good idea on paper: the film was clearly trying to return to the roots of the franchise, which was once inspired by David Fincher’s cult thriller Seven, and emphasize the detective component. Darren Lynn Bousman returned to the helm here, holding the director’s chair from the second to the fourth part (in terms of success, this is two out of three), but if “Spiral” had any chances, they were safely buried by comedian Chris Rock, who started this whole project. His anti-charisma evokes painful memories of Tommy Wiseau’s “Room”, and the monstrously inappropriate rap on the soundtrack makes you want to quickly join the losers in the “games” of the local maniac. The only bright spot in this whole misunderstanding is Samuel L. Jackson, who portrays the protagonist’s father, but his efforts alone, of course, are not enough to save the situation.
“Saw 4” (“Saw IV”), 2007, dir. Darren Lynn Bousman
The fourth part was the first clear signal that everything was not going well for “Saw,” thank God. It was here that the soul, so to speak, began to disappear from the franchise: from the fourth part, inventor John Kramer is officially dead, then his heirs act (minus Amanda, she also died), and the creators of “Saw” James Wan and Leigh Whannell are not involved in the writing script. Annoying holes and inconsistencies began to appear in the plot, which everyone continued to spin and continued to spin as if it were one of the Constructor’s deadly devices. However, the twists here do not yet fall into the category of nonsense, so the film manages to present several pleasant surprises.
“Saw 5” (“Saw V”), 2008, dir. David Hackl
The next episode inherited everything from the fourth “Saw” except the director: Bousman’s position went to David Hackl, who worked on the previous installments as production designer and second director, and after this episode left the franchise for good. Here it becomes increasingly difficult to follow the non-linear narrative (you have to keep a lot of things in your head). What sets the fifth Saw apart from its predecessor is its cute protagonist (agent Peter Strahm also had one of the most memorable deaths) and slightly more entertaining traps.
“Saw 8” (“Jigsaw”), 2017, dir. Peter and Michael Spirigi
The Saw reboot made for a downright ridiculous movie, but just enough ridiculous to be funny enough to come across as a breath of fresh air. In a sense, it was a breath of air: for the sake of variety, the picture here was brought into line with certain cinematic standards and did not resemble an average television production, and the flashbacks familiar to the franchise managed to play a good joke on the viewer.
In the second half of the distance, “Saw” clearly regretted that it got involved in this race, but sometimes the series still got a second wind. This glimpse was the sixth part – the first of those that the editor of all previous films, Kevin Grotert, made as a director (he, as we remember, is also responsible for the next seventh, which opens this list). Here the franchise suddenly tries to squeeze out something meaningful (we won’t consider John Kramer’s pseudo-philosophical reasoning in this vein) and decides to speak out about capitalism – that is, it writes out with a uniform meat grinder not only the next “game” of the Designer, but also the American system of so-called healthcare. As a nice addition, the level of cinematography has increased slightly here (still a TV production, but no longer mediocre).
“Saw 2” (“Saw II”), 2005, dir. Darren Lynn Bousman
The second Saw, which was given the green light after the first opening weekend, became for the franchise something like the sequels of Die Hard. The script by video director Darren Lynn Bousman, which initially had nothing to do with “Saw,” was reworked and inserted into the series so that you wouldn’t even suspect a catch. From this came a worthy, as far as possible, continuation of the hit by James Wan and Leigh Whannell, which finally gave viewers the opportunity to get to know Tobin Bell’s character better (in the previous part he lay all the way), and also interestingly returned Amanda from the last film to the screen – It was she who became the first of Kramer’s followers to be presented. And just in the second “Saw” there is a scene with a pool of syringes that forever pierces the brain.
Honorable mention. “Saw 0.5” (“Saw”), 2003, dir. James Wan
Before we get to the final three, it’s important to mention the short film that started it all. The film was shot as a proof-of-concept – and coped with this task perfectly. By and large, it has everything you need (that is, an inverted trap that tears your face apart) – with the exception of the legendary track “Hello Zepp”, written by ex-Nine Inch Nails member Charlie Clouser for the first part of the franchise and which became its main theme . The tape can be viewed for free on YouTube.
“Saw 3” (“Saw III”), 2006, dir. Darren Lynn Bousman
The second Saw had a more memorable ensemble and traps, but it was the third part that made a significant contribution to the development of the heroes Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith : the film tried to get the most out of the on-screen duo, which became one of the best finds of the franchise, and it succeeded (not that so that you worry about their relationships more than your own, but the area is related). This series also benefits from its harmonious composition and clever plot twists.
“Saw 10” (“Saw X”), 2023, dir. Kevin Grotert
It seems that in 2023, no one really expected anything from “Saw,” which they had already tried to return to the screens twice with little success. However, the new part suddenly took over and received the highest praise in the entire history of the film series. It’s not that the generation of critics who grew up in the 2000s and loved “Saw” as an integral element of their childhood finally got their hands on print. It’s just that in the tenth film, the franchise suddenly became generous with full-fledged cinema – well, one that not only has a high-quality picture (it’s amazing here), but also with written drama and even meaningful dialogues. This is a real benefit performance for Bell, confirming that the artist still had a lot to say and show within the framework of the main role of his career (here his hero is truly in the spotlight for the first time). Smith, returning to the role of Amanda, is not far behind him. If the third “Saw” tried, not without success, to squeeze everything out of this acting tandem, then the tenth launched it into the stratosphere. Let’s just say that it was worth enduring even the franchise’s biggest failures.
“Saw: Game of Survival” (“Saw”), 2004, dir. James Wan
Yes, this list does not have such a mindfuck ending as the seventh film: all the surprises ended on the second point. Nevertheless, let’s explain. The logic is this: the tenth “Saw” is wonderful, but it would not have arisen without the brazen Hollywood debut of director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell (the latter also played one of the main roles in the film – photographer Adam, Dr. Gordon’s “cellmate”). Made on the knee, horror spawned one of the main franchises in the entire genre (later Wan and Whannell would do it twice more: with Insidious and The Conjuring) and launched its own subgenre of “torture porn” (you can treat it differently, but it was a success cannot be denied). “Saw” is clear proof that with enough fire in the eyes, you can put together a movie that you will never be able to tear yourself away from, even if it is a movie about two people in one single location.