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The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

“Oh Yes, There Will Be Blood:” A Ranking of All “Saw” Movies

What is “Saw?”

The Saw movies are commonly thought of as being way too long for what their plot contains: the murderous games of an angry guy with cancer. This is valid, coming from someone who has rewatched the series more times than I would like to admit. The plot has been milked to its full extent, yet viewers keep coming back for new installations. Why? The traps, which are the main element that makes up the movies. Of course, the relationships among characters (specifically John with his apprentices) are very important as well, but nobody watches a horror movie just for that. 

I will be looking at and rating each movie based on 3 main factors: quality of traps, reasoning of traps and overall entertainment (will it keep viewers’ attention?).

10: “Spiral: from The Book of Saw”

Falling in line with a not-so-unpopular opinion among fans of the series, “Spiral: from The Book of Saw” ranks last. Its deviation from the story we all know and love is one of its main flaws. The plot does not maintain significance to viewers, leaving the twist at the end flat. ”Spiral’s” traps are poorly executed and lack a significant purpose. This allows viewers to neither sympathize nor laugh at victims (because, let us be honest, we all do). If the copycat killer does not share similar morals as John, then the movie has no purpose. This leads to its entertainment rating, which is… not very good. The movie scrambles far and wide to keep audiences entertained which, by the end, it does not do well. That is, unless you find Chris Rock’s mediocre acting entertaining.

9: “Saw IV”

Even to die-hard fans of the series, “Saw IV” is almost unrecognizable, with no major scenes to distinguish this movie from the others. It follows a cop trying to find more cops – not very captivating, to say the least. Even the majority of its traps earn a yawn and an eyebrow furrow. A trap that slices the victim’s face when they try to escape – is that the best John could come up with? The connection between the traps and the “crime” is a key part of the movie, and without this, it leaves viewers bored and confused. 

8: “Jigsaw “

Even though “Jigsaw” is one of the most confusing and disliked movies to many fans, its traps are the most interesting (not logical, but fun to watch). They include sketchy reasoning, but the mechanics of the traps and the angering last-minute twist are what hold it together. The shotgun key trap is one of the most mind-bending of the series, where the hint given is meant more literally than normal. The last trap of the movie is also an unexpected twist – so unexpected you cannot help but feel a little stupid. It is infuriating in a way, but so well executed that you cannot hold a grudge for too long.

7: “Saw 3D”

It was a tough decision to rank this higher than “Jigsaw,” but I have decided its plot was much more captivating, even if the traps were not nearly as good. “Saw 3D’s” most memorable trap is the horsepower trap (which includes Chester Bennington from Linkin Park as a little cameo). This is the only trap where there is a clear, understandable reason. The rest of the traps are a complete mess; being both strange in execution and reasoning. This ultimately ruins the experience for viewers, since you know a purposely idiotic character (who is bound to fail) is put in charge of saving the lives of others.

6: “Saw V”

I will admit that I am not a huge fan of Hoffman, but he creates pretty good traps. The pit and the pendulum trap will never not make me close my eyes and gag. John will always be the best, but Hoffman’s trap executions are still great, nonetheless. It is Hoffman’s character arc, though, that takes a little too long to get to the point and gives everything a flat feeling by the end. If it were not for these traps and the twists that come along with them, “Saw V” would be completely uninteresting. 

5: “Saw VI”

What goes around, comes around… literally. Let us dive straight into a fan-favorite trap: The shotgun carousel. Six people, only four bullets, and their boss gets to decide who lives or dies. One of the more unfair traps of the series, but also one of the most entertaining and aesthetically pleasing for viewers. The rest of the traps lack this “on the edge of your seat” feeling. They involve unfair reasoning and downright confusing methods of execution. The film’s saving grace is the twist at the very end, which is satisfying, though more in a “thank God it is finally over” kind of way. 

4: “Saw III”

This is the one “Saw” film I still think about constantly, due to its trap executions and story progression. The reasoning behind the traps is in no way sound (none of the traps in any film are), but they are emotional and rather understandable. Not only that, but they are flawlessly carried out. The rack is a great example of amazing trap mechanics. Once the viewer stops gagging, they can analyze how these traps were executed. A further dive into Amanda and John’s past is shown and leads to a couple of emotional scenes with Amanda front and center. While it is not first on the list, it is still overall fantastic and deserving of top five status.

3: “Saw X”

“Saw’s” newest (and last?) installment! Fantastically painful traps and very rich in lore. The best trap of the movie is the wire saw trap, which shows the trial and error of John’s engineering methods. For taking place at the beginning of his career as a murderer, he already has very good executions, with many intricate parts working together. The reasoning for a few were flimsy, but when it came time for the final trap, everything was wrapped up nicely. The specific sections that highlighted John and Amanda’s relationship were by far the best parts, giving viewers a part of the story that had not been shown quite as intricately in the previous movies. For a fan of the series (which you must be if you are watching all ten movies), this is a very delightful change of pace. 

2: “Saw”

“Chainshipping!” I know plenty of people will understand and maybe even squeal at this phrase. This movie is simple yet entertaining, and is a perfect introduction to the series and the concept of strategic murder. It includes the most recognizable and iconic trap of the series, the reverse bear trap that continues to be an important symbol in later movies. “Saw’s” only flaw is that the reasoning behind these traps are awful and unfair in most cases. The flammable jelly trap or the razor maze trap are very good examples of this. All in all, the film is captivating, and the ending twist leaves viewers jumping out of their seats.

1: “Saw II”

“I’ve never murdered anyone in my life.” Are you sure about that, John? It was an extremely close tie for the top spot between this and “Saw I,” but I eventually found more substance within this film. The movie’s overall twist is phenomenal, and the traps are deliciously agonizing to watch. My favorite trap, though not much of a trap at all, is the pit of needles, which is exactly as it sounds. It makes the viewer’s skin crawl in the way a horror movie should. “Saw II” is the perfect amalgamation of suspense and pure gory horror, something later movies seem to miss quite a bit. Ending in the same place as the first “Saw,” it circles back around and leaves viewers with a great sense of euphoria.

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