Ranking the Saw Movies

As of this week, I have now completed my rewatch of the Saw franchise from the 2004 original through this year’s Spiral. Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen more grisly traps, body parts flying, endless flashbacks, and more tape recorders than a Radio Shack in the 1980s than I care to remember.

Of course, my reviews of this ennead was brought on by the release of Spiral, Chris Rock’s foray into a reboot. I was hopeful that it would stand as one of the bright spots in this dark group of bloody tales. It wasn’t to be. With each placement on this list, you will find my longer post.

Opinions are varied on the overall placement of the Saw pictures in terms of quality. There’s not much debate that the first is the best and it’s a sentiment I certainly share.

After that we see plenty of debate. I still maintain that the first three (in which Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw is alive though not well in health or mind) stand above anything that followed. There are ardent admirers of part 6, but I feel IV-VII represented a considerable dip in quality and the sixth is not immune to that criticism. 2017’s Jigsaw was more successful in rebooting the films than the recent Spiral, though it has plenty of flaws.

And with that, here are my rankings in the Saw cinematic universe:

9. Saw 3D (2010)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw 3D (2010)

8. Spiral (2021)

The Jigsaw Files: Spiral (2021)

7. Saw IV (2007)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw IV (2007)

6. Saw VI (2009)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw VI (2009)

5. Saw V (2008)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw V (2008)

4. Jigsaw (2017)

The Jigsaw Files: Jigsaw (2017)

3. Saw III (2006)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw III (2006)

2. Saw II (2005)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw II (2005)

1. Saw (2004)

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/05/09/the-jigsaw-files-saw-2004/

The Jigsaw Files: Spiral (2021)

The choice that Lionsgate and Chris Rock (of all people) made to let the Saw franchise live and not die turns out to be a poor one with Spiral. Four years after Jigsaw managed to improve a bit on episodes IV-VII (which mostly felt like one long grim tale), the idea behind ninth installment Spiral (subtitled From the Book of Saw) at least turned some heads. In fact, the story behind its green lighting is far more unexpected and interesting than anything during its 93 minutes. Rock, one of the all-time great comedians, apparently had a chance meeting with a studio exec at a Brazilian wedding and pitched his take on a way to revive the series. The rest is history that will be mostly forgotten based on the weaker than expected box office returns. I bet camera footage of Rock’s pitch would be more satisfying and there would be a wedding reception and Brazil.

While this is the first Saw flick without Tobin Bell, we do have some regulars back. Darren Lynn Bousman (who made II-IV) returns to direct while Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger (Jigsaw writers) penned it. Rock is Detective Zeke Banks and he’s mostly hated by his fellow officers since he turned in a dirty cop years ago. His father (Samuel L. Jackson, who’s slowly but surely appearing in every franchise known to man) is a former Captain who’s revered by his peers. Max Minghella plays the eager rookie gumshoe tasked to work with the hesitant Zeke.

And there are, of course, Jigsaw type killings. Except this time Jigsaw is not mostly dead, but actually dead. There’s no Tobin Bell flashbacks. There are, however, still lots of flashbacks and some of them remind us of plot points that we literally saw about 15-20 minutes prior. A copycat killer is offing coworkers from Zeke’s precinct while reminding them of their workplace sins just before their brutal demises. This naturally involves the kind of traps we’ve grown accustomed to that slice skin and sever spinal cords. The first game begins with a tongue lashing to the nearly departed victim and ends with a tongue slashing.

If the whole idea of a brilliant comedian planting himself in a Saw like universe sounds like it might be weird… well, it is. Rock struggles with being believable in the role. His punch-ups to the screenplay aren’t hard to pick out as there’s mostly unfunny riffs on Forrest Gump and the time of day cheating habits of men vs. women. The bulk of the script veers back and forth between trying (I suppose) to make some statement on police corruption and just being a regular old Saw pic. It surprisingly fails on both fronts. And like every entry preceding it, there’s a twist ending. Some of them (especially in the original) packed a wallop. In Spiral, it’s a shrug inducing one that you can easily see coming.

Jigsaw was the first attempt to revitalize these twisted pictures. It was certainly no horror classic, but I admired moments of it. Spiral, despite the sharp talent involved, is a massive misfire.

My previous posts on the Saw pics can be accessed here:

The Jigsaw Files: Saw (2004)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw II (2005)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw III (2006)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw IV (2007)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw V (2008)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw VI (2009)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw 3D (2010)

The Jigsaw Files: Jigsaw (2017)

The Jigsaw Files: Jigsaw (2017)

Parts IV-VII of the Saw experiences mostly felt like one long slog of a movie as the devious trappings torch was passed from Jigsaw (Tobin Bell, still seen in flashbacks) to Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). The look of the films remained drab and cheap. By the time 3D technology was utilized in 2010 with the seventh edition, the series had worn out its welcome with audiences (though they were still profitable due to their minor budgets).

Lionsgate (despite titling the previous pic The Final Chapter) decided to reinvigorate the franchise seven years later with Jigsaw, which brings in new players while finding a way to keep Bell briefly onscreen. The Spierig Brothers join the fold to direct and there’s new screenwriters in Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger. Some things have not changed. From beyond the grave, John/Jigsaw still expects his subjects to talk and he ultimately expects them to die.

Taking place a decade after Kramer’s demise, it seems a copycat killer is among us. Detectives Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) and Hunt (Cle Bennett) investigate as do forensic pathologists Logan (Matt Passmore) and Eleanor (Hannah Emily Anderson). Everyone but Hunt seems to be a suspect at different junctures. Logan’s backstory involves torture in the Middle East. Eleanor is more thrilled by Jigsaw’s past exploits than repelled by it. Halloran is a dirty cop. This constant game of who’s behind the mayhem coincides with a more familiar one taking place in an abandoned barn.

Jigsaw, or whoever is paying homage to him, toys with five unlucky players in the farmhouse setting. Their backstories, as we anticipate by now, involve their own nefarious activities that their captor seeks confessions to. Reading these plot points might lead you to believe there’s nothing much new in this reboot. You wouldn’t be far off. However, Jigsaw does manage to have more of a sense of humor about itself than what we’re used to. The behind the camera work from the Spierig Brothers exhibits a bit more energy than anything in the preceding four flicks.

On the other hand, the plot twists in the third act are rather eye rolling and that’s been an issue since the genuinely shocking one in the original. Let’s face it – every Saw sequel has tried to wow us in the last several minutes and only part 1 truly succeeded. The games deployed in Jigsaw are rather run of the mill as well.

Simply put, part VIII of the Saw saga is a small step up from its immediate precursors, but not a giant leap. Per usual, Jigaw’s faith in mankind still needs some work.

The Jigsaw Files will continue with Spiral (2021)…

My other Jigsaw Files can be accessed here:

The Jigsaw Files: Saw (2004)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw II (2005)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw III (2006)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw IV (2007)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw V (2008)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw VI (2009)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw 3D (2010)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw 3D (2010)

The Jigsaw Files continues with 2010’s Saw 3D (also known as Saw: The Final Chapter) and it is of course not the final chapter as evidence by Spiral currently being #1 at multiplexes. Lionsgate termed it the endgame after the disappointing financial performance of Saw VI. Like all horror series, it’s never truly dead. As in all Saw flicks, even if characters are dead, they still manage to appear in the abundance of flashbacks we have seen time and again.

In the early moments of the seventh entry, we do see something very rare and that’s daylight. One of the traps from Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) actually happens in a setting that’s not a dingy dungeon. It happens in a crowded business district where spectators get to witness Hoffman’s handiwork. I must admit it was odd to see one of these games play out in a location that doesn’t make the grossest porta potty you’ve ever experienced look like the Taj Mahal.

That’s about the only new development to be found. Saw 3D brings back director Kevin Greutert for the second time in a row along with familiar screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan. The plot primarily hinges on Hoffman’s freshest game targeting Bobby (Sean Patrick Flanery). He makes his living by claiming to be a Jigsaw survivor and reaping the book sale profits. The problem is he’s lying and that doesn’t sit well with Hoffman. The investigator trying to halt everything is Gibson (Chad Bonella, overacting even for a Saw pic).

Since this is the “last” chapter, we do finally get some answers on just what the heck happened to Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes). He was last seen footless all the way back in the 2004 original. Yet the answers provided aren’t exactly satisfying. This is also marks the least screen time for the OG gamesman Tobin Bell. His ex-wife Jill (Betsy Russell) easily doubles his minutes. As mentioned before, the switch from Bell’s Jigsaw to Hoffman always marked a shift in quality for this franchise.

In 2009, a little movie called Avatar set all kinds of box office records. This may have been a factor in the 3D technology being employed here. I didn’t see this in the theater and I suppose the flying body parts coming at you on a giant screen could have added something…

I kind of doubt it. Seven features in, the Saw productions have run out of creative juice. One could argue that happened after the third one and I wouldn’t argue. The return of Elwes isn’t the boost as you may wish. Saw 3D has one foot planted in monotonous traps and departed voices from the past. That other foot is long sawed off and sought after thrills from #7 are tough to find.

The Jigsaw Files will continue with Jigsaw (2017)…

My previous Jigsaw File posts can be accessed here:

The Jigsaw Files: Saw (2004)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw II (2005)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw III (2006)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw IV (2007)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw V (2008)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw VI (2009)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw VI (2009)

The Jigsaw Files continues with Saw VI and it’s often cited as one of the better (if not best) later entry in the franchise. Rotten Tomatoes says so as its meter (39%) falls only behind the 2004 original. Me? I don’t really fall into that category. The sixth edition certainly improves upon IV and a bit over V, but my complaints in this midsection remain the same. Chief among them is that the handoff from Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw to Costas Mandylor’s Detective Hoffman as the mastermind behind the games is a bumpy one. Nothing in Saw VI changes that dynamic.

Speaking of changing dynamics, a little side note about this blog series. Back in 2009, I purchased the first five Saw flicks on DVD and did a little mini marathon back then. 2021, since Spiral was coming out, warranted this blog group. I had, however, only viewed the quintet of these devious blood spattered experiences. So Saw VI and the three pictures that follow are original viewings.

When we last left Hoffman, he had dispatched FBI agent Strahm to a brutal demise and he seemingly has the keys to Jigsaw’s demented kingdom. The central game in this entry involves the medical industry and that does provide for a slightly fresh dynamic. William Easton (Peter Outerbridge) is an executive in that profession who made the unfortunate decision to deny John/Jigsaw’s requested experimental procedure post cancer diagnosis. As you can imagine, Jigsaw enlists Hoffman to exact revenge and this involves William having to play God in considerably more violent scenarios.

Meanwhile the various subplots continue to pile as high as the body count. Jigsaw’s ex-wife (Betsy Russell) becomes more of a central figure. Shawnee Smith’s Amanda gets some posthumous attention. And those flashbacks (a common occurrence in the franchise) go into overdrive here. It’s almost as if screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan were struggling to justify VI‘s existence and that’s likely true. Kevin Greutert, who edited all five earlier pics, gets his shot as director. Oh… and Steve Martin’s son-in-law from Father of the Bride and its sequel pops up in a key role.

At this point as a Saw watcher, it’s all about how compelling the games are. The characters have ceased to be very stimulating. There’s one involving a playground roundabout that gets a couple points for creativity. Despite the corporate greed angle (predatory lenders get their comeuppance too), Saw VI is once again a mundane ride that plays on mostly familiar ground.

The Jigsaw Files will continue with Saw: The Final Chapter (2010)… as if…

You can peruse my previous postings in this series here:

The Jigsaw Files: Saw (2004)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw II (2005)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw III (2006)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw IV (2007)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw V (2008)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw V (2008)

This is rather faint praise, but Saw V is an improvement over the cluttered experience that was Saw IV. We still get backstories that will seemingly never end. The loss of Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), even though he returns in flashbacks, finds screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan desperate to mine material. On the hand that isn’t severed, there’s some decent work by the supporting actors in the fifth edition. On the severed hand, our two leads carried over from the fourth edition are still a bore.

The Jigsaw Files keeps swinging along and here’s the first four if you didn’t catch them:

The Jigsaw Files: Saw (2004)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw II (2005)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw III (2006)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw IV (2007)

Saw V introduces its third director in David Hackl, who did production design and second unit work on episodes II-IV. Darren Lynn Bousman’s involvement in the series had seemingly ended but he is back behind the camera for the upcoming Spiral. Melton and Dunstan, who scripted the predecessor, are back.

It was at the conclusion of #4 that we learned Detective Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) was Jigsaw’s second accomplice to his wicked games. He’s taken center stage now as the hero who brought down Jiggy while FBI Agent Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) suspects foul play. Naturally the departed mastermind has thought of a way to make Strahm look like the new villain.

In the meantime, the living and deceased co-conspirators have a new test. They have selected five strangers, picked to live in a dimly lit dungeon, work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite… and start getting real bloody. It’s up to them to figure out what they have in common while trying to maintain limb and life. Hint: the quintet probably have a criminal connection. This is where we find some decent performances from Julie Benz, Meagan Good and Greg Bryk as they try to avoid catastrophic countdowns. The whole subplot is a bit of a callback to Saw II and that’s not always a bad thing in this case.

Detective Hoffman’s backstory is a predictable one as to why he got mixed up with the non killing serial killer. This franchise seems hellbent on providing motivational recalls for all its offenders and at this point it’s mostly filler.

I am, quite frankly, struggling somewhat to add more about Saw V. As stated, it is less jumbled (and a tad less perverse) than what preceded it. The scenes with the five new contestants on this Real Stomach-Churning World have an occasional sharp energy. The Hoffman/Strahm dynamic remains considerably duller. And the fifth entry is overwhelmingly average.

The Jigsaw Files will continue with Saw VI (2009)…

The Jigsaw Files: Saw IV (2007)

If you think an inconvenience like death is going to stop this sadistic madman and bulk tape recorder purchaser, then you don’t know Jigsaw! And so begins my dive into Saw IV in the Jigsaw Files. My posts on the previous three entries are here:

The Jigsaw Files: Saw (2004)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw II (2005)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw III (2006)

One general feeling I couldn’t escape is that the fourth time is not the charm (if such a word can be used in this franchise). The time to entertain is through. It’s time to wallow in the mire of mostly uninspired new traps, limb splitting demises, and needless backstories and time shifts. The biggest flaw of all might be an over abundance of plot. Watching a Saw movie shouldn’t feel like keeping up with Lost. And I don’t care that two actors from that show were in the original.

Darren Lynn Bousman is back directing for the third time in a row and this is his final contribution. There’s new screenwriters in the mix with Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan. The script picks a secondary character from II and III to play Jigsaw’s latest game. Officer Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent) is charged with saving Detective Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) and FBI Agent Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) from doom. None of these law enforcement leads are particularly compelling. Rigg, according to Jigsaw, has a bit of a savior complex and his tests involve leaving behind nefarious types probably not worth rescuing.

Takes one to know one. After all, the dude with the ultimate savior complex is Jigsaw himself. And Saw IV delves deeper into his backstory that we weren’t sure we wanted. After seeing it, I’m sure of it. He does have an engineering background which explains some stuff, but his previous marriage to drug counselor Jill (Betsy Russell) isn’t all that engrossing. It helps explain his motivations, but does it matter at this point?

There are callbacks to previous pics and the most notable involves Donnie Wahlberg’s Detective Matthews. Last seen with a mangled foot courtesy of Amanda (Shawnee Smith), this detective’s story is finally given an icy closure (in an admittedly garishly effective moment). We also know that time is relative in the Sawmatic Universe and this plays into the anticipated twists in the final moments. It all feels more contrived than ever before. It’s now down to bland supporting players from better installments taking the lead and that contributes to an overall secondhand goods vibe.

I could go on with the dull plot points feasting on themselves and the tiresome traps, but seriously… how many damn tape recorders did Jigsaw own? He had to have been Best Buy or RadioShack’s most prolific customer/serial killer.

The Jigsaw Files will continue with Saw V (2008)…

The Jigsaw Files: Saw III (2006)

It’s not brain surgery for fans of this franchise to view Saw III. Well, except, maybe when actual brain surgery is performed. I know I turned away when I saw it a decade and a half ago. Same goes for the rewatch. The third feature in the series is up as I recap the Saw sagas prior to the release of Spiral. If you didn’t catch my first two write-ups, they’re right bloody here:

The Jigsaw Files: Saw (2004)

The Jigsaw Files: Saw II (2005)

Saw III finds our criminal mastermind Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) in a reflective mode as his cancer is finally about to put a stop to his intricate games. He’s still got one up his hospital gowned sleeve and it’s for Jeff (Angus Macfayden), who’s mourning the death of his adolescent son three years earlier. Depressed and seeking revenge on the many people responsible for that demise, Jigsaw gives him the elaborate opportunity. This involves potential payback for witnesses, judicial personnel, and the driver who subjected Jeff to the loss.

In a Saw pic, we know that means torture devices that test their fate and test previous meals of moviegoers watching it. Jeff’s journeys are intercut with Jigsaw’s failing health in a makeshift hospital. As we learned at the conclusion of Saw II, he’s got a partner in crime with Amanda (Shawnee Smith). Lynn (Bahar Soomekh) is the surgeon brought in (kidnapped) to save his life. Of course, if she doesn’t, Amanda has built a contraption to immediately end the doctor’s life once Jigsaw’s expires. And let the games begin!

Darren Lynn Bousman returns as director for the second time and James Wan and Leigh Whannell are back for story credit. This would mark the final time that this trio would collectively have their hands in the franchise. And they sure go out of their way to tie the first three pictures together… logic be kinda damned! Donnie Wahlberg reprises his role as the detective from part 2 as does Dina Meyer. Even Whannell’s Adam from the original is seen in flashback form.

Saw III, to its credit, creates a more emotional situation for Jeff to find redemption. Unlike most of the lead characters in I and II, he’s not a horrible person. He’s just in a horrible situation due to tragedy and he actually makes some decent choices based on Jigsaw’s vile experiments. And I have to say, this is the first time in the franchise where Jigsaw’s trials of human behavior really seem too complicated for anyone to comply with. I mean that in the context of this grisly and implausible cinematic universe, but still…

By the third act, Saw III begins to fall all over itself in attempting to connect various loose ends. It all feels a bit much. There are many who think this is second only to the original in terms of quality. I would put it a notch behind #2 as well.

Find out how this series progresses or regresses when The Jigsaw Files returns with Saw IV (2007)…

The Jigsaw Files: Saw II (2005)

As we await the release of the ninth Saw franchise gorefest Spiral, my Jigsaw Files posts continue with Saw II. If you missed my first entry for the 2004 original, you can find it here:

The Jigsaw Files: Saw (2004)

When Saw was released in October of 2004, Lionsgate didn’t know they had a series that would continue into three separate decades. The opening weekend grosses changed that and a sequel was immediately commissioned. Not only that – the studio wanted it out fast in time for the 2005 Halloween box office. Darren Lynn Bousman, as luck would have it, already had a screenplay outside of the Saw universe that could serve as a template. Franchise co-creator Leigh Whannell was brought in to bring the script into this demented world. And Saw II was hurried into production to meet that all important drop date.

The rushed production schedule does not deter this from generally doing what a sequel needs to do. It builds upon its predecessor. It looks like more of a sophisticated final product (at $4 million, it nearly quadrupled the budget of part one). There’s a twist ending that legitimately manages to surprise. Most of all, Saw II (even more than Saw) sets the formula for those that followed.

Whether that’s a good thing likely depends on your stomach for this type of material. Like many horror follow-ups, part II is bloodier and more sadistic. Picking up from the shocking ending of Saw when we learn who Jigsaw is, this puts a lot more meat on the bones of its central antagonist. We learn more about John Kramer (Tobin Bell) and his cancer diagnosis that causes him to develop these games of survival. Or as he describes it… “testing the fabric of human nature.” In John/Jigsaw’s world, he’s allowing his potential victims a chance to appreciate their lives and give them a second chance. A lot of them don’t see it that way.

His sights are set on corrupt detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) here. Jigsaw orchestrates the abduction of eight strangers in a dim dungeon to toy with. This includes the detective’s teen son (Erik Knudsen). The seven others are all of a criminal mind. The unexpected addition is Amanda (Shawnee Smith), who we glimpsed in Saw and was a survivor of Jigsaw’s tests (she even appreciated his unconventional method of getting her off smack).

Jigsaw is captured early in the film. It doesn’t take long to figure out that this is on purpose and he holds court with Detective Matthews as he tries to save his estranged boy. According to the ailing prisoner, the detective only needs to follow his instructions step by step. Unfortunately, the new character on the block’s temper prevents that from happening. I’m not sure if Bousman and Whannell wanted us to root for Wahlberg’s character. Probably not. If by any chance they did, that’s a failure because we don’t mind Jiggy gettin’ the best of him.

Saw II truly begins the parade of gross out gags and creative deaths that have marked the series. The most squirm inducing involves needing to find a key. In this situation, the key is the needle and the haystack happens to be needles. By the time we reach our climax, a time shifting revelation manages to fool us. It’s not as effective as Jigsaw rising from that disgusting washroom floor in Saw, but it’s pretty good stuff.

I give the filmmakers due credit with the first sequel. This was made to make a release date and it did so without seeming like a rip-off of its source material. Far from it.

The Jigsaw Files will continue with Saw III (2006)…

The Jigsaw Files: Saw (2004)

Perhaps I’m feeling like a glutton for punishment, but the upcoming release of Spiral: From the Book of Saw got me in a bloody nostalgic mood as we anticipate its premiere. Nearly 17 years after the low-budget original became one of the most profitable horror pics ever and spawned now eight sequels/reboots, I felt it was time to revisit the franchise.

Hence The Jigsaw Files where I will recap the series movie by movie. It naturally begins with the original Saw. Shot for a reported teensy budget of $1.2 million, it came out of nowhere in October 2004 to become a genre classic. So is it?

This marks the directorial debut of James Wan and he went on to be involved in numerous franchises. Some were of his own making (Insidious, The Conjuring). Others brought on his talents like in Furious 7 and Aquaman. Wan came up with the story along with Leigh Whannell, who has since helmed Upgrade and The Invisible Man (both critically acclaimed scare fests).

Most of you are familiar with the story. Whannell costars as Adam, a photographer who awakens in a dingy and feces covered washroom with Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes). The duo soon discover that they are part of an elaborate game orchestrated by a serial killer who concocts these elaborate schemes. They have to figure out why they have been placed in such a foul setting and they only have hours to do so before their time expires.

The screenplay intersects their countdown with Detectives Tapp (Danny Glover) and Sing (Ken Leung) trying to figure out who this monster is. Saw is told in a non-linear fashion that isn’t totally clear until the climax. I had forgotten about the Lost TV series connection until my rewatch. Leung was the quirky medium Miles. Michael Emerson, who is involved in the mayhem happening here, is an Emmy winner for his brilliant portrayal of Ben Linus.

What’s striking about Saw upon another visit is that its meager budget limits some of the gore we became accustomed to in the sequels. Don’t get me wrong… it’s there, but not quite as prevalent. Elwes and Whannell get the most screen time (Glover apparently only shot for two days). Both actors have their moments of extreme overacting and I’m pretty sure that’s on purpose. Some may find this exercise humorless, but there’s some winking and nodding occurring in my estimation.

The other plot point that audiences might forget is that Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw (who becomes this franchise’s Freddy, Jason, Michael… take your pick) plays a minimal role… kind of like Jason in the first Friday the 13th. This is, of course, until the surprise ending. And that ending is still one of the better twists in modern horror history. If you’re a stickler about it making sense… well, you might hurt your head deciding if it holds up to scrutiny. Yet it was effective when I first watched it and it still is today.

Saw is certainly not perfect. Its price tag limitations show, but even that adds to the B movie vibe. Wan shows right away why he’s become the in demand filmmaker he is now. And this Saw remains a cut above most of what followed and rightfully has the reputation that precedes it.

The Jigsaw Files will continue with Saw II (2005)…