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)


8. Spiral (2021)


7. Saw IV (2007)


6. Saw VI (2009)


5. Saw V (2008)


4. Jigsaw (2017)


3. Saw III (2006)


2. Saw II (2005)


1. 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: 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 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 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:






May 14-16 Box Office Predictions

It’s been a minute since we have had four new releases to ponder, but that’s the situation this weekend as theaters continue to open their doors. The ninth pic in the Saw franchise Spiral, Angelina Jolie’s thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead, the Zack Snyder directed zombie fest Army of the Dead, and tech suspense flick Profile all open on Friday. My detailed prediction posts on the quartet can be found here:





Spiral should have no trouble scoring a #1 premiere. The question is: what kinda Saw bucks are we talking? I think this could certainly over perform (word of mouth is decent), but my estimate puts it in line with the last entry in the series – 2017’s Jigsaw. 

The runner-up slot should go to Ms. Jolie and her joint venture with Warner Bros/HBO Max. However, unlike the recent Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat, a start north of $10 million (and certainly $20 million) seems unlikely.

Blogger’s Note: Dead prediction downgraded to $3.8 million

Jason Statham’s Wrath of Man should fall to third after its opening met expectations (more on that below). I anticipate his latest action tale to lose a bit more than half its audience.

Here’s where things get a little interesting. Army of the Dead is the first Netflix release to open on a fairly wide screen count (at least 600). If that holds, the potential for a $2-$3 million haul is feasible. It could even do more. What’s unknown at this juncture is whether the streaming giant will actually report its grosses. They haven’t in the past in their limited theatrical runs, but we are venturing into new territory. With this question unanswered, I’ll be doing a top five that includes Army and one that does not.

As for Profile, it’s hitting a large 2000 screens. Yet I suspect its low profile and my predicted $1.2 million forecast could prevent it from making the top five in either scenario.

And with that, here’s my two versions of this weekend’s top five:

1. Spiral

Predicted Gross: $16.1 million

2. Wrath of Man

Predicted Gross: $3.9 million

3. Those Who Wish Me Dead

Predicted Gross: $3.8 million

4. Army of the Dead

Predicted Gross: $2.5 million

5. Raya and the Last Dragon

Predicted Gross: $1.4 million

***If no Army grosses, Raya would move up to #4 and I’ll say Demon Slayer is fifth with $1.3 million

Box Office Results (May 7-9)

As mentioned, Wrath of Man took the pole position and met expectations with $8.3 million. How much did it meet them? It certainly met mine as my projection was $8.3 million!

Demon Slayer dropped to second with $2.7 million, on par with my $2.9 million estimate. Its three-week tally is $39 million.

Also in its third frame, Mortal Kombat was third with $2.4 million compared to my $2.7 million take. Overall gross stands at $37 million.

Godzilla vs. Kong was fourth with $1.9 million (I said $2 million). The monster mash continues to inch toward the century mark at $93 million.

Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon flew off with another $1.9 million. I incorrectly had it outside the top five. It has earned $43 million.

Finally, the Billy Crystal/Tiffany Haddish dramedy Here Today showed zero staying power as it opened in seventh with $1 million. I was a bit more generous at $1.5 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Spiral Box Office Prediction

The Saw franchise is back in theaters on May 14 and it hopes to take a solid financial cut of box office grosses. Spiral (subtitled From the Book of Saw) is the ninth installment of the slasher series that began in 2004 and it definitely looks different (although not in every way). There’s more star power than we have seen before in the reboot with Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson leading the way. Other costars include Max Minghella and Marisol Nichols. This looks to be the first Saw pic without stalwart Tobin Bell (aka Jigsaw). Lionsgate did bring back a regular in the director’s chair with Darren Lynn Bousman, who made parts II-IV. That’s likely not an accident as that trio posted the biggest domestic grosses of the bunch.

Another shift is in the release strategy as this is the first Saw entry not premiering in October. That wasn’t always the case. Originally slated for October 2020, it was actually pushed up to May of last year. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic changed that plan. The reported $20 million production budget is actually listed as the highest thus far. Even with continued theatrical capacity limits, Spiral should have no trouble turning a profit.

The high mark opening weekend for the franchise is almost surely out of reach. Saw III holds that record with $33.6 million. A better question might be whether it gets the lowest start of the nine. That mark is held by 2009’s Saw VI at $14.1 million. Spiral, as just announced this week, is getting some competition trying to attract a similar audience. The Netflix zombie flick Army of the Dead from director Zack Snyder snagged deals with certain chains to put it on around 800 screens (my prediction for that one is coming soon).

Spiral will open on far more screens and should have no trouble debuting in first place (as five of the previous eight have done). I’m thinking this probably ends up in the range of its processor Jigsaw, which made $16.6 out of the gate.

Spiral opening weekend prediction: $16.1 million

For my Those Who Wish Me Dead prediction, click here:


For my Army of the Dead prediction, click here:


For my Profile prediction, click here:


Winchester Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (01/31): I am revisiting my Winchester prediction from $14.1 million to $9.1 million

Helen Mirren goes into horror mode next weekend with the release of Winchester. The supernatural period piece comes from Michael and Peter Spierig, directors of Daybreakers and last year’s Jigsaw. Costars include Jason Clarke, Angus Sampson, and Sarah Snook.

Subtitled The House that Ghosts Built, the Lionsgate release is hoping to bring in genre fans. Horror pics have experienced a good run over the last several months and that could propel this to a more than anticipated debut.

That said, while there’s no competition opening against it, there is a certain football game between New England and Philadelphia on Sunday. The Super Bowl weekend is typically not a robust one at the box office as February heavy hitters wait in the wings.

I’ll project a low to mid teens debut.

Winchester opening weekend prediction: $9.1 million

Box Office Predictions: November 17-19

Superheroes will rule the box office this weekend as DC’s Justice League looks to dominate the competition with Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok sliding to second in its third frame. We also have the debuts of Wonder with Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay and the animated The Star. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on the newbies here:




My Justice League estimate gives it the third highest opening of 2017 behind Beauty and the Beast and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – and about $6 million above what Thor achieved just two weeks ago. Figuring in the Ragnarok gross this weekend, the DC/Marvel Cinematic Universes should account for about $150-$160 million of this pre-Thanksgiving weekend.

The 3-6 slots could get interesting. Daddy’s Home 2 rose above expectations, as did Murder on the Orient Express. I’m projecting that their sophomore frames should find them in third and fourth with Wonder rounding out the top 5 and The Star in sixth. Yet it could be close and that could change if either of the newcomers surpass expectations. Both of them stand decent shots at over performing.

And with that, my top 6 predictions for the weekend:

1. Justice League

Predicted Gross: $128.4 million

2. Thor: Ragnarok

Predicted Gross: $25 million (representing a drop of 56%)

3. Daddy’s Home 2

Predicted Gross: $15.9 million (representing a drop of 46%)

4. Murder on the Orient Express

Predicted Gross: $14.5 million (representing a drop of 49%)

5. Wonder

Predicted Gross: $12.9 million

6. The Star

Predicted Gross: $10.3 million

Box Office Results (November 10-12)

Thor: Ragnarok hammered all competition and set some franchise records as well. The threequel earned $57 million in weekend #2 (above my $53.8 million take) to brings its total to $212 million. In ten days, it’s already outdone both of its predecessors.

Just as the original did in December 2015, Daddy’s Home 2 surpassed forecasts. While it didn’t open with the $38 million achieved by the first Daddy’s, the sequel took in a pleasing $29.6 million. That’s well ahead of my $21.8 million prediction and on the highest end of expectations. The Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg follow-up hopes to continue its nice run over the next few weeks.

Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express also came in high with $28.6 million compared to my $24.6 million estimate. The murder mystery remake did receive a middling B Cinemascore average, but it could still play well with an adult audience for the remainder of November.

After a so-so opening that couldn’t match its predecessor from summer 2016, the second weekend of A Bad Moms Christmas delivered good news for the comedy sequel. It dropped just 32% to earn $11.4 million (topping my $8.6M estimate) to bring its two-week total to $39 million. If it continues to play well through the holidays, it may not be a disappointment after all.

Jigsaw rounded out the top five with $3.4 million (I said $2.9 million) to brings it tally to $34 million.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…


Box Office Predictions: November 10-12

Two notable entries enter the box office derby this weekend as comedy sequel Daddy’s Home 2 with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg and Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie adapted remake Murder on the Orient Express. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both here:



Neither newbie is likely to come anywhere near dislodging Thor: Ragnarok from a second weekend atop the charts. The critically acclaimed threequel is probably looking at a drop in the mid to possibly high 50s, which is par for the course for most MCU sequels.

The biggest question of the weekend is whether Home or Express nabs the #2 spot. Knowing that comedy sequels often under perform their predecessors (that happened just this past weekend), I’ve got Murder edging out Daddy’s for the runner-up position.

A Bad Moms Christmas should drop to fourth with Jigsaw rounding out the top five.

And with that, my top 5 projections for the weekend ahead:

1. Thor: Ragnarok

Predicted Gross: $53.8 million (representing a drop of 56%)

2. Murder on the Orient Express

Predicted Gross: $24.6 million

3. Daddy’s Home 2

Predicted Gross: $21.8 million

4. A Bad Moms Christmas

Predicted Gross: $8.6 million (representing a drop of 48%)

5. Jigsaw

Predicted Gross: $2.9 million (representing a drop of 57%)

Box Office Results (November 3-5)

Thor: Rangarok easily posted the highest debut in its particular franchise and the 7th largest Marvel Cinematic Universe opening with $122.7 million, topping my $107.6M forecast. Terrific word-of-mouth certainly contributed to it opening nearly $40 million above its predecessor Thor: The Dark World. 

A Bad Moms Christmas had an unimpressive debut in second with $16.7 million over the traditional three-day weekend. I was a bit higher at $18.7 million. The sequel opened on Wednesday and has taken in $21.2 million since then. Again, that’s below my projection of $26.2 million. It failed in five days to earn the $23.8 million accomplished by its predecessor in summer 2016. 

Jigsaw dropped to third with $6.5 million compared to my $5.9 million estimate. The horror pic has grossed $28 million so far.

Boo 2! A Madea Halloween was fourth with $4.5 million (I said $4.1 million) for a $42 million overall tally.

Geostorm rounded out the top five with $3.1 million (I went with $2.7 million) for $28 million total.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…