The Saw franchise is very much alive and well with the quasi-reboot Spiral, starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson. Early reactions to the film call it a worthy follow-up to the Saw franchise, with even more dastardly traps for fans to
The Angel-Acid Thing — Saw III, 2006
By Saw III, Jigsaw’s traps had evolved from garden variety tools to contraptions so distractingly elaborate, you spend more time trying to figure out how the Hell an old cancer patient could concoct such a gnarly device than you do worrying about the actual victim. In this case, Detective Allison Kerry wakes up suspended in mid-air trapped in a device that will rip her apart unless she willingly sticks her hand in acid and grabs the key to the device.
Like most of Jigsaw’s schemes, this one is destined to fail. And fail it does inappropriately grisly fashion.
Check out the scene here! Or don’t, and spare your soul.
Mausoleum Trap — Saw IV, 2007
If you thought Saw III was extreme, then good golly almighty, Saw IV drives the nastiness up to a ludicrous extreme. Case in point: the opening scene has two guys chained to a device designed to pull them slowly towards death. Unless, of course, they work together. The only problem is, one dude can’t speak and the other guy can’t hear. Why? Because their eyes and mouth are sewn shut!
And yet, thanks to the virtues of decent humanity, both men coordinate effectively and manage to escape their predicament, are awarded gold stars by Jigsaw, and spend the remainder of their lives in therapy.
Nah, it all ends horribly.
Death Mask — Saw II, 2005
In Saw II, poor Michael Marks finds himself facing crushing disappointment — ba dum tss! — in a device that will close in around his head and kill him unless he scrapes out his eye and removes a surgically implanted key. The worst part is that Mike spends a majority of his final moments in life screaming obscenities rather than do the sensible thing and sit down and reflect on his person in a calm, cool, collected manner.
Either way, his head gets smashed in … might as well go out like a champ, amirite?
Of significance, people claim this scene serves a greater purpose by foreshadowing Dr. Lawrence Gordon’s involvement with the Saw murders. The director has since rebuked this idea and claims everything from the hooded doctor-with-a-limp bit was purely coincidental. That is a case of a director revealing too much about a film. Just take the “W,” Darren Lynn Bousman!
Reverse Bear Trap — Saw, 2004
The original Saw remains the best in the franchise for its simplicity. While other films leaned more on gory elements and way-too-elaborate devices to shock audiences to submission, Saw works by implying the horror caused by Jigsaw’s traps. Yeah, that’s more likely due to a lower budget than anything else, but James Wan does a masterful job building suspense throughout his film; and keeps the serial killer’s devices a little more, for lack of a better word, grounded in some form of reality.
Case in point: the reverse bear trap, which first appears on the head of the character Amanda and appears in later films to lesser effect. Here’s the gist: unless the victim removes a key from the stomach of a disabled man (who is still alive by the way), the contraption will, well, open the victim’s mouth like those old Johnson and Johnson hard-to-reach teeth commercials featuring the dude with the flip-top head.
This trap, more than others, works so well mainly because, aside from actually giving victims a reasonable escape route, it actually serves a moral purpose — Amanda must choose to kill an innocent individual to save herself, and really, that’s what Saw was about, to begin with, right?
Saw — Saw, 2004
As you can probably tell, I enjoy the original Saw a lot more than any of its sequels. Even now, the Seven knockoff works surprisingly well as a clever serial killer mystery spiced with a juicy twist that few ever see coming.
This is why I think the best trap out of the entire series is the one involving two guys stuck in a room with a dead guy and a saw. The game is simple: cut off your foot or die — or, as is the case with Dr. Gordon during the climax, cut off your foot or watch your family die. Jigsaw’s plan is a lot more elaborate and features multiple connections and (somehow) Danny Glover, but, again, there’s a morality tale at play that allows these crazy kill schemes to serve a greater purpose beyond showing off gnarly gore.
And that, my friends, is what makes the original Saw such a classic!