The Saw Movies are part of one of the most profitable Horror Movie Franchise in history, certainly the biggest one in the 2000’s spawning 6 sequels from 2005 to 2010 after the original Saw movie became a box-office sensation back in 2004.
This week I have decided to re-watch every Saw Movies, one everyday. This will allow me to give each of them a proper review (albeit a quick one) but also to analyze the series as a whole.
You will also find a FAQ at the end of this article with some interesting observations. Click on the links below in the table of content for quick access to each review and features.
Table of Content
1 – Saw (2004) Review
Synopsis (from IMDb): With a dead body lying between them, two men wake up in the secure lair of a serial killer who’s been nicknamed “Jigsaw”. The men must follow various rules and objectives if they wish to survive and win the deadly game set for them
Quick Review: Watching the original Saw 9 years later after all of the sequels and the number of copycats and Torture porn Movies that follow was a surreal experience. Apart from the twist at the end, and some of the “games” I had a hard time remembering most of the movie. And for a good reason: there are whole parts that just simply suck.
Most of the flashback and character exposition are just plain boring and the acting does not help. I believe James Wan and Leigh Whannel had this great concept and ideas but their lack of experience in doing a full-feature movie shows.
I also have to admit that Saw is not as gory as I could remember and there are only 2 or 3 traps that are really worth mentioning. I think that most of the iconic scenes of the Saw Franchise are actually to be found in the next movies.
With that being said, Saw is still a great concept movie. The twist works (at least the first time around), the traps are cool (especially the bear trap) and Jigsaw makes for a hell of villain.
My Rating: 8 (first time around), 6 (second viewing)
Director: James Wan
2 – Saw II (2005) Review
Quick Review: Considering that the first Saw was a trendsetter and had a very interesting twist, SAW II actually does a good job at raising the bar in terms of visual horror while still offering a very satisfactory resolution/ending.
Saw II story happens a few months after the first movie event and this time we have more victims and traps than the first one had. Saw II is defintiviely more shocking and disturbing and has probably one of the most memorable trap in the franchise history (the needle stack, while not resulting in the death of the character is one the most hard to watch scene in the movie).
The acting in this episode is also a notch better as is the pacing since there is much less filler (Saw II is also more than 10mn shorter) and Bousman does a good job at mimicking some of the trademarked shots James Wan used in the first Saw (rapid cuts, accelerated editing…). This time around Tobin Bell is front and center as Jigsaw and his performance is still stellar.
I actually enjoyed watching Saw II again more than I did the first one. The quicker pace, ingenious traps and satisfying ending still make it a highly rewatchable movie.
My Rating: 7 (both first and second viewing)
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
3 – Saw III (2006) Review
Quick Review: Saw III is by far the goriest entry in the Saw Series so far. There are a few memorable scenes that will stay in your mind days after you finished watching the movie (the brain operation and The Rack trap for instance).
By now the Saw Movies have found their rhythm and the formula is familiar with a blend of Tests/Traps, one or more twist/reveal at the end and some flashback tying up loose ends from previous movies or giving a bit more background about the characters.
Saw III has all the elements that made the Saw Franchise what it is, while upping the amount of gore and maintaining the overall quality of the series.
My Rating: 7 (both first and second viewing)
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
4 – Saw IV (2007) Review
Synopsis: Jigsaw and his apprentice Amanda are dead. Now, upon the news of Detective Kerry’s murder, two seasoned FBI profilers, Agent Strahm and Agent Perez, arrive in the terrified community to assist the veteran Detective Hoffman in sifting through Jigsaw’s latest grisly remains and piecing together the puzzle. However, when SWAT Commander Rigg is abducted and thrust into a game, the last officer untouched by Jigsaw has but ninety minutes to overcome a series of demented traps and save an old friend or face the deadly consequences.
Quick Review: Saw IV is the weakest of the Saw franchise so far. Even if some more loose ends are tied, the plot feels very convoluted.
During the movie,we get more background on John Kramer and how, ultimately he became Jigsaw. This plot device might try to make us sympathize towards John (and in this aspect it kind of works, thanks to Tobin Bell performance) but it also kind of take from Jigsaw’s menacing presence. The more you learn about a villain motives, the less scary and mysterious he becomes.
There are a few cool traps in this one but none really groundbreaking or memorable when compared to the previous 3 movies. The gore level is also a bit on the down low I feel when compared to the previous movie (with the exception of the autopsy at the beginning, but I felt this was overkill and actually just gratuitous).
Saw IV marks the departure of co-creator and writer Leigh Whannel (here just credited with an executive producer role) and it does have an impact of the quality of the script.
With that being said for a third sequel Saw IV is still a good effort and will please fans of the series.
My Rating: 6 (first viewing), 5.5 (second viewing)
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
5 – Saw V (2008) Review
Synopsis: Following Jigsaw’s grisly demise, Mark Hoffman, the final apprentice to the serial killer is deigned a hero. Meanwhile, Agent Strahm continues to track Hoffman while another group of strangers are put through a series of gruesome traps.
Quick Review: Saw V, despite having some of my favorite traps (the pendulum and the blade table) is even weaker than Saw IV was.
This entry has a new director, Paul Hackl, and while Bousman is not a genius cinematographer he has the Saw style down to a t. Director Hackl is lacking any kind of visual flair and Saw V threfore looks cheap, even cheaper then the first one.
It also has the least interesting characters of the series (detective Hoffman and agent strahm) facing each other while a bunch of people are trapped in one of jigsaw’s dungeon (traps are OK but the characters are too generic).
The ending is also quite disappointing when compared to all the other Saw movies. It just kinda ends without any real twist.
Saw V is the worst Saw movie so far and it is not looking great for the rest of the franchise. Let’s hope Saw VI can gain back some momentum.
My Rating: 5/10 (both viewing)
Director: David Hackl
6 – Saw VI (2009) Review
Quick Review: Saw VI marks the debut of Kevin Greutert in the director’s chair (he was the editor of all previous Saw Movies) and it is a big leap forward in terms of overall quality. You can tell that greutert is very familiar with the Saw Universe, not only with its visual code but also the overarching plot.
7 – Saw 3D (2010) Review
Synopsis: As a deadly battle rages over Jigsaw’s brutal legacy, a group of Jigsaw survivors gathers to seek the support of self-help guru and fellow survivor Bobby Dagen, a man whose own dark secrets unleash a new wave of terror.
Quick Review: Following a promising Saw VI, I was quite disappointed by Saw 3D.
If it was not for the last 5mn or so, I would probably rate this movie less than 5/10. But thanks to its final twist (where we finally learn what happened to Dr Gordon all those years) that ties up a few loose ends from previous movies and some of the best traps in the Saw Franchise the movie deserves a better rating.
Everything else though (the cat and mouse games between Hoffman, Jill Tuck and a new cop character) is just boring filler, and some scenes do not even make any sense. What’s up with the first trap that happens outside in broad day light in front of a crowd? It’s also the first sequel that has almost no Tobin Bell in it.
Since I have watched the movie at home I can’t quite comment on the use of 3D. I do not think it changes much of anything and is probably more appropriate for movies such as Final Destination. Saw should be a low budget, claustrophobic movie not a thrill ride with stuff jumping at you.
At the end of the day it’s another satisfying entry in what has been one of the greatest Horror Franchise of all time. Probably the only one that has managed to keep the stories altogether without really jumping the shark. The style has been consistent and Jigsaw will be remembered as one of the greatest/smartest villain of all time.
My Rating: 5.5/10
Director: Kevin Greutert
Box Office Saw Movies (worldwide in Million USD)
– Saw: $103
– Saw II: $108
– Saw III: $165
– Saw IV: $139
– Saw V: $114
– Saw VI: $68
– Saw 3D: $136
Saw F.A.Q (spoilers ahead):
Q: How many Saw Movies are there?
Q: Will there be another Saw Movie?
A: There has not been talk about a new Saw movie since Saw 3d. In the past, a new Saw movie was released each year for Halloween. The last movie of the Saw Franchise, Saw 3d was released during Halloween 2010.
Q:What is the Body Count in the Saw moives?
A: 78 confirmed. 6 in Saw, 9 in Saw II, 9 in Saw III, 10 in Saw IV, 6 in Saw V, 12 in Saw VI, 26 in Saw 3d
Q: Is Saw based on a Book?
A: No. Saw is the first of seven movies in the Saw series, conceived and written by Australian screenwriters Leigh Whannell and James Wan. It is based on a short movie of the same title the two men had made previously
Q: Are Jigsaw and Amanda really dead?
A: Jigsaw is, for sure. His brains are removed during autopsy in Saw IV, leaving no doubt that he is dead. Amanda’s bloody body can be seen lying on floor in the operating room next to Lynn Denlon.
Q: What is the origin of the Billy Doll?
A: The first one was made as a toy for Jigsaw’s unborn son Gideon. He now uses Billy to be the “front man” on videotape when teaching his victims the rules of a game.
Q: Who were the other two mystery assailants in the pig masks at the end of Saw 3d?
A: The other two masked men never reveal themselves in the movie. On the DVD commentary track, however, they are revealed as Ryan and Brad, the two survivors from the trap at the beginning of the film (the love triangle trap).
Q: Movies similar to Saw?
A: in the next section of this article
List of Movies like Saw:
I’d like to end those reviews with a little short movie directed and produced by David Lilley and written by Mark O’Connell: Saw Misgivings. It is a very humorous homage to the infamous death mask.