Ranking of the Entire Saw Franchise

Ranking of the Entire Saw Franchise

For the past several years, Director James Wan has been a franchise machine.  When he isn’t directing maga-blockbusters like Furious 7 and next month’s Aquaman, Wan has been jumpstarting some of the greatest modern horror movie franchises.  He has given us both the Insidious and The Conjuring cinematic universes and they have been immensely successful.  However, his legacy to date still has to be the Saw franchise.  

Saw arrived on the scene in October 2004 and took the world by storm.  The grimy, torture, horror film disturbed, frightened, and bent the brains of moviegoers everywhere.  For the next 6 years, audiences were treated to an annual installment of the franchise. The series certainly has its ups and downs.  Although, as this article points out, it may be one of the most brilliantly convoluted film franchises in history. Last year, we were able to revisit the Saw universe again with the release of the Spierig Brothers’ Jigsaw.  There seemed to be some hope that the beloved horror series would continue.

Some of you may not be able to let Halloween 2018 go just yet.  So as a treat, here is the Saw franchise ranked in order.  Spoiler Alert!!! If you have not watched the franchise, some of these opinions may give away certain plot points.

#8:  Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010)

With Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, the series had completely lost its mind.  The central figure is a celebrity who lied about being a Jigsaw victim.  Would that actually happen in this universe where Jigsaw has wreaked such mayhem on the populace?  Also, the traps, while cool, are so incredibly overengineered that they cease to be scary and are just ridiculous.  Finally, the final twist of the original set of films is outlandishly awesome, but falls apart if you think about it for more than 10 seconds.  Still…there are some great traps to satisfy your bloodlust.

Best Trap:  The Horsepower Trap.  Several mechanics are set up in a Rube Goldberg type trap that is as overly complicated as it is grotesquely gory.  

#7:  Jigsaw (2017)

We all wanted to revisit the Saw franchise, so its resurrection was very welcome.  The Spierig brothers are solid directors with films like Daybreakers and Predestination under their belts.  However, Jigsaw did not really feel like a Saw film.  It felt a bit too polished and outside the world of the original 7 films.  It is odd to say the Spierigs are too talented for a Saw movie, but in making the film look as good as it does sucks a bit of realism out if it.  And, the Saw films always struggle for believability.  The patented twists and time jumps are there, so that is fun.  However, besides a wonderful Tobin Bell scene, this film never really needed to exist.

Best Trap:  The Shotgun trap.  This is where Tobin Bell arrives as Jigsaw and gives two victims a shotgun and cartridges.  It is simple and spooky.  Much more so than the absurdly advanced ones throughout the rest of the film.

#6:  Saw V (2008)

Saw V was all over the place.  The traps are as elaborate and fun as ever.  However, the main scenario with 5 people moving room-to-room fails to exhibit a higher purpose.  These people discover their connections but they don’t seem to fit into the larger Saw narrative.  Also, Agent Strahm is the least interesting detective in the series who is obsessed with getting answers from Detective Hoffman.  Purposefully, but to its fault, the fifth installment is where we really feel the absence if Tobin Bell’s jigsaw. Saw V is where the franchise segued to Hoffman running the games, and Costas Mandylor is no Tobin Bell.

Best Trap:  10 pints of blood trap.  People have to reach inside a saw blade device and fill up a jar with their own blood.  Probably the most cringe-inducing of the franchise.

#5:  Saw IV (2007)

Saw IV is the one where Lt. Rigg is tested much like Detective Matthews was in Saw II.  Lt. Rigg feels like he should be able to save everyone throughout his involvement with the Jigsaw murders.  It is his obsession.  Jigsaw enlists him in a game and informs him to just walk away and everything will be ok.   Rigg being who he is, he just can’t. He has to save Matthews and Hoffman.  Of course, he makes things worse for everybody. It also leads to the revelation of another Jigsaw apprentice that we previously has not known about.  So, that is pretty fun.

Best trap.  The mausoleum trap.  One man’s eyes are sewn shut and one’s mouth is.  The device in the center of the room is pulling them toward their death via shackles on their necks.

#4:  Saw II (2005)

Saw II really upped the ante after the huge success of the original.  This time around, a group of strangers wakes up in a dilapidated house.  Some of them are all different levels of criminal. Amanda is the repeat Jigsaw victim.  Also, Detective Eric Matthews’s (Donnie Wahlberg) son is among the miscreants. There is all sorts of traps and riddles throughout the house, so there is a lot of variety to be had.  However, the main focus is Jigsaw just wanting Detective Matthews to sit and talk with him. Jigsaw promises that if he does, he will see his son again. Detective Matthews can’t quite take it.  One of the best parts about Saw II is the way not every riddle and trap actually pays off.  The rainbow codes on the back of the group’s heads reamins a huge “what if”.

Best Trap:  The cold open venus-fly-trap.  The key is behind the victim’s eye and he is provided only a scalpel.

#3:  Saw VI (2009)

Saw VI is the one where Peter Outbridge plays a Medical Insurance bigwig who is responsible for denying Jigsaw his medical treatment.  By the 6th film, the story has become incredibly convoluted and confusing with all of the Detective Hoffman/Agent Strahm nonsense.  But watching William make his way through his trial of traps is a lot of fun. The incredulously elaborate traps almost make you laugh in delight.  Something that always makes the Saw traps more interesting is when the victim is at the mercy of someone else.  All of the traps involving William in VI are designed that William’s choices and actions directly kill or save certain people.  Jigsaw’s purpose was to REALLY let him know that his decisions can have dire consequences, but to a gloriously horrible extreme.

Best Trap:  Williams trial where hie and his custodian have to hold their breath.  Every breath brings piercing blades closer to their torso.

#2:  Saw III (2006)

Saw III is the one where Angus MacFayden’s daughter has been kidnapped and he is forced through a series of traps to rescue her.  Not only that, but Bahar Soomekh is a surgeon who has been enlisted to whatever it takes to keep the ailing Jigsaw alive. The way she is encouraged?  She has a bullet-laden collar that will blow her head off if Jigsaw’s heart stops. The best of the Saw sequels have at least a BIT of focus and emotion.  MacFayden is an depressed father whose son was killed, and his tests involve forgiveness for those he blames for his loss.  There is a bit of poignancy through those traps that adds a small layer on intrigue to the mayhem. On top of that, we get to see graphic brain surgery.  What else could you want?

Best Trap:  The Rack. A man’s limbs and head are shackled and slowly rotated in a way the human body should not rotate.

#1:  Saw (2004)

The original film is simply  the best. In 2004, James Wan and Leigh Whannell created quite a clever little thriller for only $1.2 Million.  It went on to make over $100 Million world wide. Saw had a simple premise, with two men waking up in a grotesque bathroom, chained to the pipes, with hand saws nearby.  What follows is more mystery than horror, following a few detectives trying to solve the case of the Jigsaw Killer. The movie is all atmosphere, with a few bursts of horrible violence.  The bathroom scenario is scary enough, with an amazing, unexpected twist. However, when we flash back to Amanda’s experience with the “bear-trap” device, we all knew that these filmmakers were pretty creative and a little nuts.  The franchise never lived up to the original film, but few horror films have in the past 15 years.

Best Trap:  The original is the best.  Cut off your feet to escape the room!!

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Weekend: Nov. 14, 2019, Nov. 17, 2019

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