Today I am back to rank my favourite horror franchise of all time: Saw. I cannot even begin to describe what a hardcore fan I am. I watched the first one when I was in highschool and have been addicted ever since. As there are now nine films in the series, I wanted to share my rankings from worst to best movie. If you’re interested in my Billy t-shirt, you can order it here. If you didn’t know, Saw follows a twisted serial killer named Jigsaw, who places his victims in inventive torture traps with the hopes of rehabilitating them…if they survive. As the series progresses, Jigsaw recruits various apprentices who continue his work for him. Be warned, there are big spoilers ahead. If Roman Numerals are too confusing, I’ve placed the actual number in brackets. Also, in case it wasn’t clear, Jigsaw and John Kramer are the same person. Next week, I will be posting my five favourite traps from the franchise but for now, let’s get onto my list!
9.) Jigsaw (EIGHT)
Coming in at last place, we have Jigsaw. This is the eighth installment in the franchise and my least favourite. I apologise if anybody loves this film. I just wasn’t that impressed. 10 years after John Kramer’s death, a series of murders all bearing the same markings as Jigsaw’s, leads law enforcement to investigate. As they work to find the killer, five people wake up in a game filled with deadly traps. They try to survive until the very end but inevitably, drop off one by one. In the final scene, it’s revealed that the killer is Logan Nelson, who was placed in his own game a decade ago. Jigsaw saved him out of mercy and he became John’s very first disciple. Logan served him long before the original bathroom trap in Saw took place. Here are my issues with this movie: 1.) The traps weren’t very exciting and unmemorable. I cannot pick a single one I liked. 2.) The twist was a bit lame. It seemed odd that Jigsaw would save Logan in the first place. 3.) I didn’t care about any of the characters. There was nobody to root for and 4.) Logan didn’t excite me as an antagonist. He may return in future films but isn’t mentioned in Spiral, like some fans expected. I don’t mean to sound harsh but I could’ve done without this one.
8.) Saw VII (SEVEN)
In second last place, we have Saw VII: The Final Chapter (3D). I actually didn’t hate this one but it wasn’t as good as the rest. For one, some of the blood splatter was pink? For another, the main player: Bobby Dagen, 100% deserved to be in his own game. This is one person that was really asking for it. Bobby writes a fake autobiography about his experience as a Jigsaw survivor, despite never being one of his victims. Naturally, this leads Bobby to get a taste of his own medicine. As Bobby progresses through his traps, Mark Hoffman (Jigsaw’s most ruthless apprentice) does his best to kill John’s wife: Jill Tuck and become the sole prodigy to carry on Jigsaw’s legacy. Little does he know – and this is the big twist – Dr. Lawrence Gordon (from Saw) survived the bathroom trap and rose to be John’s most trusted disciple. He eliminates Hoffman and the movie ends there, indicating that the work could continue in future films. One of my favourite traps is in this film (more on that next week) and the reveal was super satisfying. I love how the story came full circle. Also, there is a cameo from the late Chester Bennington from Linkin Park. Overall, I definitely enjoyed it more than a lot of the critics, but my oh my, Bobby’s wife did not deserve such a brutal death…
7.) Spiral (NINE)
Originally, Spiral was in second last place but after watching it multiple times, I realised it was worthy of a higher ranking. I am such a huge fan of this Saw spin-off. It was co-written by Chris Rock and follows his story as a cop, hated by his colleagues for ratting out a former corrupt employee years ago. When a Jigsaw copycat begins targeting the precinct, Zeke Banks (Chris Rock) and his partner Detective Schenk, try to track down the twisted killer. Little does Zeke know, these murders aren’t random, they are personal. The one major downfall of this film is the twist ending. I saw it coming a mile away! It was extremely predictable, which isn’t usually the case with this franchise. Apart from that, I really loved this fresh take on the series. The soundtrack is so good, the traps are inventive (one of them is on my top 5 list), the acting is phenomenal and the underlying message about how unethical the police force can be is powerful. If you’re hesitating to give it a go, I highly recommend it. There will absolutely be a sequel!
6.) Saw V (FIVE)
Saw V is where we witnessed just how deranged Jigsaw’s disciple Mark Hoffman was. Unlike John Kramer, Mark rigs his traps so nobody can survive them. This is not what his master wanted. In his twisted mind, John believed everybody deserved a chance to live and completely transform their lives. Hoffman, overcome with power, abuses his privileges and targets anybody who gets in his way. He was originally recruited by John after he set up the Pendulum trap to torture his sister’s murderer. Special Agent Strahm (from Saw IV) rightly suspects Hoffman and follows him in the hopes of catching him red-handed. At the same time, five strangers wake up in a game and sabotage one another to make it further along. In the last room, the two remaining survivors discover that the entire scenario was designed for them to work together. If they had just cooperated, they could’ve easily overcome each trap, but as the final test required multiple people to complete, they almost die. I love this twist and thoroughly enjoyed seeing more of John’s backstory and what led him to become Jigsaw in the first place. It’s a bonafide origin story. However, the best part of this movie? The ending. Two words: Glass Coffin.
5.) Saw IV (FOUR)
I found it really hard to embrace Saw IV in the beginning, because the series felt perfectly wrapped up after Saw III. However, after re-watching it, I have to say it’s a lot of fun and has some of the best traps in the franchise. The brilliant twist at the end reveals that this storyline runs parallel to the third film. Ugh so good! In this installment, we are introduced to Detective Agent Strahm, who is working with the FBI to take down Jigsaw (not realising he is already dead – as seen in Saw III). We also have Detective Rigg, who is placed in a game of his own. His challenge is to let go and stop trying to fix everything. This requires him to refrain from saving any victims he comes across in various traps (bar one). Detective Eric Matthews (from Saw II) returns and we also learn more about John Kramer’s former business partner, Art Blank. The one big issue I have with Saw IV is how unrealistic Rigg’s game is. Unlike the other scenarios, this one is open world – which means he isn’t stuck in one place. He can leave his home, drive to different locations and explore outside. If I was him, I would’ve used that to my advantage but I guess Jigsaw knew Rigg would use the time allocated to rescue those in need. Enjoy the clever traps!
4.) Saw II (TWO)
I know Saw II is generally most people’s favourite film in the franchise, but it’s in fourth place for me. It was brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but I just loved the other three more. In the sequel, we finally get to witness Tobin Bell’s acting. Remember, in Saw he was just playing dead on the floor. This story revolves around Detective Eric Matthews and his son Daniel, who is placed in a game with seven other victims (one of them being Amanda Young – the survivor of the Reverse Bear Trap in Saw), who all have a very good reason to hate his father. In a house that is emitting a deadly nerve gas, the players only have a couple of hours to survive various traps and locate the antidotes that will keep them alive. Eric Matthews is provided with what he believes is live footage of the house, prompting him to attack Jigsaw and obtain the location of Daniel. Jigsaw eventually concedes but when Matthews arrives, he realises the video was actually pre-recorded and has already occurred in the past. If he had just waited until the time was up, Daniel would have been presented to him alive and well. As he failed his test, Eric is attacked by Amanda (who is revealed to be Jigsaw’s latest apprentice) and locked away. Amanda placed herself in the game, pretending to be a victim. The double twist in this film makes it such a great follow up to the first one. I must admit however, I still feel nauseated during the Needle Pit scene. It’s one of the most effective and most talked about traps.
3.) Saw VI (SIX)
In third place, we have Saw VI. WOW, WOW, WOW. I am a massive fan of this movie. The twist, the story and the acting is insane. It features my absolute favourite trap in the entire franchise. I sound like a broken record, but you’ll find out what that is next week. William Easton, the executive of an insurance company, wakes up in his own game. We find out through flashbacks that he had previously denied John Kramer the chance to trial an experimental treatment for his cancer. John purposely instructs his ex-wife, Jill, to start William’s game after his death, to prove how his actions were fatal. It’s the only time we witness Jigsaw instructing his victim over the television screen, instead of Billy the puppet. This scenario takes place in an abandoned zoo. There is a mother and son locked in a cage, waiting for William to complete his challenges. As viewers, we assume they are his family. In the other storyline, Mark Hoffman is very close to being discovered by the FBI. There is a scene where the agents realise he is the one behind it all and it’s perfection. The tension and suspense will have you on the edge of your seat. We learn even more about John and Jill’s story and her desire to take Hoffman out before his lust for power completely takes over. William Easton makes it to the last room, only to discover the mother and son have been given the choice to end his life or let him live. The reveal is that they are of no relation to him. It turns out, he rejected an insurance claim to their late sick father/husband, which resulted in him not receiving proper medical care and dying. It’s so intense. If it isn’t obvious, Saw VI calls attention to the terrible structure of the American healthcare system. Don’t sleep on this one!
2.) Saw III (THREE)
Coming in at second place is Saw III. This is the longest running film in the franchise, at almost two hours. It is the most deeply layered, emotional movie yet and there are so many power plays, you need multiple viewings to truly appreciate it. Six months after the sequel, Jeff Denlon wakes up in a game designed to test him physically and mentally. After the death of his son (at the hands of a drunk driver), he must confront every single person involved in the tragic accident and decide their fate. He can either save or let them die. Gripping! At the same time, John Kramer is very close to dying from cancer. Amanda Young, his latest apprentice, kidnaps Lynn, a skilled surgeon and fastens a shotgun collar around her neck that is linked to Jigsaw’s heart-rate. Her job is to keep him alive. If he flat-lines, the device will activate and blow her head off. There are several tests happening here, making this such a highly ranked movie in my opinion. 1.) Jeff Denlon, 2.) Lynn and 3.) Amanda, who doesn’t know she is being monitored by Jigsaw. He fears Amanda is too reckless, so in order to gauge whether she is worthy of continuing his work, Jigsaw openly favours Lynn over her, which results in a jealous rage. At the end, Jeff comes face to face with John and is given the option of killing him or letting him live. Unfortunately, Jeff fails his test and murders Jigsaw with a very fitting power saw. Now here is where it gets juicy. Lynn is revealed to be Jeff’s wife, so the moment Jigsaw dies, the shotgun collar eviscerates Lynn in front of her husband. Jeff kills Amanda and because of his actions, the doors seal shut, trapping him inside the game forever. My description doesn’t even do it justice. Just watch it!
1.) Saw (ONE)
In first place, we have the original Saw. The movie that kick-started a multi-million dollar franchise. When I was just a teenager, my best friend told me I had to watch this film. We sat down together and I witnessed something I had never seen before. Two extremely talented writers, directors and best friends (James Wan and Leigh Whannell) from Melbourne had created a film about a sadistic man that offers his victims a chance of survival, with a huge catch. It was made with a very low budget and the pair didn’t expect much to come from it. Little did they know, this movie would skyrocket them into great success. Saw is my absolute favourite in the series for the nostalgia, the story and most importantly, the twist. Before I wrote this post, I looked up the best twists in movie history. It appeared in at least seven different articles. I still remember the first time John Kramer stood up from the floor of the bathroom. I gasped. Nobody could have predicted it. Evidently, this installment has the least inventive traps because it was just starting out. However, I still feel the intensity of the scene where Dr. Lawrence Gordon takes a saw to his foot. You need to begin here if you’re going to go on this journey. Also, the iconic theme music by Charlie Clouser deserves a mention. Whenever the score begins to play, you’re about to be hit with something you couldn’t have seen coming. Finally, can we take a moment to appreciate Billy the clown puppet? Need I say more? No matter how many movies are made in this universe, Saw will always be number one to me…
Let me know if you agree or disagree with my rankings. What order would you place the movies in? As mentioned, there will be more Saw content coming at you next week! Thank you for reading!
Peace & Love xoxo