There are a lot of different things that can be said about the Saw films. They’re gratuitously gory. A lot of the dialogue is bad, with some of the acting being even worse. They’re completely humorless and joyless. They have an incredibly intricate storyline and plot. The cinematography looks gross and grimy, with weird color grading. They have an iconic musical theme. Characters with one line of dialogue in one film can have a huge part in the next. They’re filled with flashbacks galore, with erratic, yet seamless editing to guide you along the way. Overall, they’re certainly not the highest form of art.

But with all that said, I absolutely love the Saw franchise and I’m not ashamed to say it. It’s actually my favorite horror film series. A big part of that was is because of the story. Yes, the Saw films have a story. A very intricate one, in fact. One that sprawls over 7 films, chock full of flashbacks, retcons, and bit characters that become very prominent later on. The fun of the series was getting caught up in the annual hype of each new installment. Every year fans would speculate where it could go next, what the big twist would be, and about what crazy, gory traps they could incorporate. Was it completely absurd and ridiculous by the time we finally got to the end? Absolutely, but overall, it was this main reason why these films were so great. No other horror film series has achieved the same level of continuity.

Whenever I tell people I love Saw for the story, I usually get a bunch of eye rolls, but that’s why I and a lot of others found this series so intriguing. It was actually a tradition for my dad and I to go see them every year simply because we loved to see what would happen next. I vividly remember working at the movie theater when Saw V came out, and two elderly women purchasing tickets for it from me. They seemed quite excited and told me, “We see these movies every year. We just love seeing where this story goes.” For a short time, Saw wasn’t just a phenomenon for horror movie fans, but for general audiences, too. It was a horror film series unlike any other and now, seven years after the last installment, it returns this Halloween with Jigsaw. So, I figured it would be the perfect time to revisit them. This isn’t going to be a typical review, but more of a retrospective of the entire series and how the experience was at the time.

WARNING: This article contains HUGE SPOILERS for all of the Saw films. Read at your own risk, but if you haven’t watched these films by now, you probably never will.

“I want to play a game.” 

I remember renting the first Saw film and watching it with my dad back in 2005. Expecting nothing more than a low budget horror film, we were both immediately taken aback by this uniquely twisted thriller that didn’t just offer some quality blood and gore, but also an intriguing narrative. It opens up with our lead characters Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) and Adam (Leigh Whannel) waking up in an industrial bathroom, their legs shackled to pipes, with a dead body between them. They soon realize that they’re victims of Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), a local serial killer who kills people by putting them in gruesome traps they must try to survive. Tonight’s game, you ask? Dr. Gordon has seven hours to figure out how to kill Adam, or else his wife and child will die.

From the get go, the stakes are high and the dread sets in. That’s one of my favorite things about the Saw franchise, especially the first one: the unrelenting sense of dread. You feel just like the victims, trying to put the piece of the puzzle together along with them. This the directorial debut of James Wan, who would go on to direct such horror hits like Insidious and The Conjuring, and he does an excellent job at amplifying the exact sense of confusion, despair, and fear that would come from this situation. For a film with such sparse locations, it’s incredibly well realized with immersive and creative camerawork and intricate editing, which would eventually become a staple of the series.

I was always very impressed with how much the filmmakers accomplished everything on such a low budget, filming the entire film in one building over 18 days. While some of the set design and cinematography looks like a cheap TV show at times, it’s the story and performances that really hold it all together. Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannel (who is also the screenwriter), and Danny Glover are all pretty hammy (mostly because of the cheesy dialogue), but they still came across as believable. I especially love Cary Elwes, who truly looks like he’s losing his mind throughout and when it finally comes to him sawing off his foot, I’m in awe every single time. It’s really like watching somebody go nuts.

But it’s all about that ending. That ending that blew everybody way and made Saw such the word of mouth horror film of the time. Characters mention earlier that Jigsaw likes to spectate his subjects during their games, but very few expected the dead body between Lawrence and Adam to actually be Jigsaw watching all along. The look of disbelief Adam gives Jigsaw as he rises from his faux grave is the same exact look we all had. We had all been played, just like the characters. Some call it a twist for the sake of a twist, but Jigsaw is a complete madman and it completely works in the realm of his character to go to that extreme. That ending will forever be iconic, and it’s hard to argue if the film would have the same impact without it.

For a $1 million budgeted film whose biggest stars were people like Cary Elwes and Danny Glover, nobody was expecting Saw to become as big of a hit as it did. However, it had a novel concept, the perfect Halloween release date, and fantastic marketing. After the first film was such a surprise success, Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures immediately saw the franchise (and monetary) potential and were of course quick to greenlight a sequel to come out the next year. Well, that novelty was nice for a short while, I suppose. Now it’s time for Jigsaw to go the way of Michael, Freddy, Jason, and all of the other icons, and start being whored out by movie producers until he stops making money.

“Oh, yes. There will be blood.” 

Then Saw II came out Halloween weekend of 2005, and it was shockingly good! Almost as good as the first one, and even better in some ways. Leigh Whannell returned to write the screenplay with James Wan, but Wan decided to step down as director, handing the reigns to Darren Lynn Bousman. The filmmakers were given 3x the budget this time around, and it shows in the increased quality of the cinematography, production design, and special effects. We have a bigger cast, more locations, and of course, more traps. While we were getting a sequel, the way the concept was expanded upon made it feel fresh. Not just the concept, though, but the actual story, too. We weren’t again just watching people play a game and lose their minds and limbs, but seeing returning characters and plotlines continue to grow and develop.

From the get go, you knew you weren’t getting your typical horror movie sequel. I remember being shocked to see Jigsaw front and center on screen and apprehended by the police in the first 15 minutes. The main story is a cat and mouse game between Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) and Jigsaw, who we learn goes by the name John Kramer. It’s a unique game of cat and mouse, because it’s nothing more than them sitting at a desk and talking to each other. Jigsaw is a cancer stricken man who needs a wheelchair to get around, but he’s still in control, as he’s currently using Eric’s son as a pawn in a game.

We get to learn a lot more about Jigsaw here, him revealing that he attempted suicide after being diagnosed with cancer. Surviving his attempt, he came away with a new appreciation for life, and went on to try and give others that same appreciation. It’s also the first time Tobin Bell would be so heavily featured in the series, and the filmmakers realized the asset they had. He absolutely owns the role, playing Jigsaw with a calm, collected, and crazy demeanor. He’s creepy and unsettling, but there’s something intriguing about him as well. You know that he’s completely off his rocker, but he’s so uncompromising and convincing with his beliefs, to where you might even agree with him at times. He’s a true psychopath.

But the most surprising thing of all was of course the twist ending, which almost tops the first one in its impact. Jigsaw is near death at the end of the film, so having it be revealed that he will have an apprentice to carry on his work was the perfect creative avenue to take the franchise. Jigsaw is all about his own sick version of rehabilitation, and having once of his victims come under his wing makes his vision realized. I couldn’t believe it when it was revealed that previous Saw film victim Amanda (Shawnee Smith) was to be Jigsaw’s successor, but it made perfect sense in the context of the series so far. It was an ending that had everybody talking just like the original.

Saw II ended up being a huge hit, doubling the opening weekend gross for the original. Lionsgate really knew they had something special here, and immediately moved Saw III into action. Many creative avenues were now opened up to be explored, but unfortunately, the huge success of Saw II set a certain level of expectations amongst fans. Fans would now to go a Saw film expecting crazy traps and huge twist ending, which would make the filmmakers rely on them more. Like a lot of franchises, this eventually made the Saw franchise a victim of its own success, as the filmmakers had felt they had a duty to keep upping the ante. Some risks were still taken, though.

“Suffering? You haven’t seen anything yet.”

Which brings us to Saw III, which again sees Bousman returning as director, and Wan and Whannell writing their final screenplay for the series. Knowing this would be their last hurrah with the franchise, they focused more on characters and story, rather than twist endings and crazy gore. This is definitely the most emotional and character driven Saw film. We get even more exploration into Jigsaw’s warped morals this time around, showing how he uses them to teach Amanda to carry on his work. While any other horror film series would lose its mystique when it delves into the backstories of the villains, it’s this aspect that made the Saw films stand out from the rest. We’re not watching monsters here. These are human beings. Human beings with histories, relatives, motivations, and real feelings.

It’s Jigsaw’s message that resonates throughout the series, and there are always people around to challenge it. The big conflict is between Jigsaw and Amanda, who almost have a contentious father-daughter like relationship. Every subject Amanda tested was never given a chance to win their game and survive, effectively making tools for execution, rather than salvation. She doesn’t believe that this sort of rehabilitation works and that some people are just too broken to change. I mean, she’s still the same messed up person she was before Jigsaw tested her, so perhaps she has a point? She’s living, deadly evidence that what Jigsaw does doesn’t work. He’s a failure and he’s going to die knowing that.

Yes, this is the big one. The film that kills off our big bad. The main game here is Jigsaw and Amanda force surgeon Lynn (Bahar Soomekh) to keep the dying Jigsaw alive until her husband Jeff (Angus Macfadyen) completes a series of games. Even the gory bits are filled with emotion, as Jeff has to come to terms with his son’s death and the people he deems responsible. It’s a great exploration on the feeling of grief and vengeance people feel when they lose somebody. When Jeff finally comes face to face with his son’s killer and you see him go through all of the stages of grief and forgiveness, it’s really heartbreaking. There are a lot of parental themes throughout the film, with Jeff and his son, Jigsaw and Amanda, and even Lynn and Jigsaw.

Lynn does what she needs to do of keeping Jigsaw alive, but Amanda refuses to let her go, shooting her instead. This causes Jeff to kill Amanda, where Jigsaw reveals she was being tested the whole time. Tested to see if she could keep somebody alive, and failed. He gives Jeff the same task, seeing if he can see forgiveness and keep himself from killing Jigsaw. He unfortunately can’t help himself, and slashes Jigsaw’s throat with a buzz saw, ending the infamous killer’s life for good. With both Jigsaw and Amanda dead, would that mean that the series would now be put to rest?

Of course not! When has a horror movie series ever stopped just because the main villain died? Just remember that Jason Voorhees technically “died” at the end of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, and that was the fourth film out of twelve! Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures didn’t care that Jigsaw was dead, because he was now bigger than ever and there was still cash to be made. So, queue the intense speculation and curiosity amongst fans. Both Jigsaw and Amanda are dead, so there must be another apprentice! Or perhaps Jigsaw isn’t really dead, and he somehow faked it! Who knew what direction the story could go in!

“It’s not over. The games have just begun.”

Well, Saw IV showed that it could go in all sorts of pointless directions. We have Bousman returning to the director’s chair for the final time, but now we have some new screenwriters. Feeling they ended their run on an emotionally satisfying note, Wan and Whannel moved onto other projects, such as the Insidious and Conjuring franchises. Passing the torch onto up and coming horror screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, who would go on to pen the rest of the films, it’s here where we would officially see a decline in the franchise. So, how did they handle Jigsaw’s death?

Well, they really didn’t. The big twist here is that Saw IV takes place at the same time as Saw III. Yep, that’s it. The opening scene of the film is a gratuitously long autopsy of Jigsaw’s corpse, but that’s revealed to actually be a flashforward. I remember myself and many others being very confused by this ending at first, thinking it was may more convoluted than it actually was. Other film and TV series have had installments that simultaneously occur, but never for the sake of a big twist. In retrospect, it’s really fascinating for a film series to pull that off, but it was clear the new screenwriters didn’t really know where to take the story.

Saw IV is just a big mess, and it’s basically all setup for Saw V, which itself felt like a setup for Saw VI. We’re introduced to some new characters, such as FBI Agents Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) and Lindsey Perez (Athena Karkanis), who would become protagonists in later installments. The plot structure is essentially the same as Saw III, which follows one person going through a series of tests while other people get tortured, all interspersed with flashbacks and police investigations to fill in the gaps. The main idea of the story is interesting, which follows main character Officer Rigg (Lyriq Bent) learning to understand Jigsaws point of view through a series of games using criminals as subjects. Too bad it’s not developed and is basically used as an excuse to have some gore and fill the runtime.

The flashbacks are the most interesting scenes, all of them centered around Jigsaw, delving into his past even more. Gotta keep Tobin Bell around somehow. We find out he was once married to Jill (Betsy Russell), a woman who ran a health clinic for addicts. Living a happy life with successful business ventures and expecting a child, everything seemed to going great for him and Jill. Unfortunately, a terrible accident befalls them, taking away their unborn child. It’s shortly thereafter that he learns he has cancer, is refused insurance coverage, and attempts suicide. It all makes Jigsaw an incredibly tragic figure, as evil as he is. Back then, he genuinely did want to help people and did so the best way he can. After losing his family and mind, he felt like the only way to true rehabilitation was his bloody way and no other.

But ultimately, Saw IV was much more focused on the gore and the twist, than the actual plot and characters. While it was great to see more about Jigsaw, everything else about the film felt like an afterthought, just leading us into the next installment. That didn’t stop people from turning out in droves again, because Saw IV was yet another big hit. Really, though. Not much actually happened here. Sure, we find out Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), a character with literally ten lines of dialogue before this is the new apprentice, but that’s it? This series needed to get going somewhere, or people were going to start getting impatient.

“If you’re good at anticipating the human mind, it leaves nothing to chance.”

We all of course returned next Halloween for Saw V, which sees Saw II-IV production designer David Hackl taking over for Bousman as director. Now that they exhausted their “two movies taking place at the same time” twist, the filmmakers actually had to deal with Jigsaw’s death and move the plot forward. By the end of it all, though, the plot has still barely even moved an inch. This is widely considered by most to be the most boring Saw film, mainly because there’s very little things of consequence that happens in. The narrative isn’t very engaging, especially since it’s shot and paced so poorly, making it feel like a network television show at times. I’ve always loved the Saw films for their energy, and Saw V is the only one of the films where there’s really none to be found.

Taking place right where Saw IV leaves off, Hoffman and Special Agent Strahm are the only survivors of Jigsaw’s most recent game. Believing Hoffman to be Jigsaw’s other apprentice, the bulk of the story is just Strahm going around to locations from previous Saw films in order to gain evidence against Hoffman. Strahm basically just acts as a conduit for the audience to receive more flashbacks about Jigsaw’s past. It’s revealed here that Hoffman has been an accomplice to Jigsaw since practically the beginning. Years prior, Hoffman killed his sister’s murderer by staging it as a Jigsaw trap to cover it up. Jigsaw takes great offense to this forgery, but recognizing Hoffman’s skills, blackmails Hoffman into assisting him with his murders. Hoffman isn’t helping Jigsaw out because he agrees with his moral code, but simply because Jigsaw has leverage to reveal Hoffman is in fact Seth’s killer. Having an unwilling accomplice was a neat twist on the idea.

As the series went on, the logic of the story was really starting to strain credibility. While Jigsaw was just a human being, he certainly had an amazing ability to predict the exact future, even for events after death. How is he able to do all this? Well, one flashback shows Hoffman assisting in setting up the nerve gas house trap in Saw II. When Hoffman inquires to Jigsaw how he knows it’ll all work out, Jigsaw claims, “If you’re good at anticipating the human mind, it leaves nothing to chance.” It’s this single line of dialogue that completely excuses and explains Jigsaw’s incredible clairvoyance. Yes, it’s still absurd, but it at least shows the filmmakers didn’t completely ignore the issue. It’s also something I could totally believe Jigsaw saying, so they also still cared about representing the character and story well.

All of this backstory for Hoffman makes him very interesting, and will eventually form him into the final antagonist of the series. With Jigsaw dead and buried, he’s meant to carry on his work, but he doesn’t really want to. Unfortunately, he’s now tied to Jigsaw forever and with the authorities still hunting for a new Jigsaw apprentice, he really has no reprieve. Saw V‘s main game concerns a group of five people who have to make their way through a series to traps to survive. It definitely the lamest game in the series, with unimaginative traps, bland characters, and atrocious acting. The characters of course have their reasons why Jigsaw chose them, but that’s no longer the purpose. The games and test subjects are all just means to an end, and Hoffman uses this new game in order to frame Agent Strahm as Jigsaw’s new apprentice. This eventually leads to Strahm’s death, in one of the more iconic endings of the series.

Well, that was kind of a disappointment. So, Hoffman kills Strahm, sets him up as Jigsaw’s apprentice, and that’s it? That’s all we get after a year of waiting? Sure, we got a lot of backstory on Hoffman and how he fits into the universe, but nothing actually really happened to push the story forward! It all felt like setup and filler, and even the hardcore fans were starting to check out after this. Yes, the gore is fun and the story was interesting, but that was also becoming an issue. People were finding it hard to keep suspending their belief higher and higher. How long can this narrative believably keep going?

“You think it’s the living who have ultimate judgment over you, because the dead will have no claim over your soul. But you may be mistaken.”

Like clockwork, Saw VI was released the next year, with series long editor Kevin Greutert directing this time around. While the Saw series was starting to go downhill as the new screenwriters didn’t seem to have much of a plan, Saw VI injected the franchise with the life that it needed. Things of consequence actually happen here and characters actually develop. There are of course flashbacks, but they’re used thematically. They all have a point, and tie into the grander theme of the both the film and the series. This is the first and only time the Saw films ever got political, tackling the subject of the American health care system. Now it’s not just Jigsaw getting cancer and losing his child that turned him evil, but also because he couldn’t receive insurance to cover a treatment. This all made agenda the filmmakers were trying to push came off as super preachy and obvious, especially in 2009 when health care in the US was hotly debated.

However, it does all serve a thematic purpose for the story and the characters. The main game includes insurance agent William Easton (Peter Outerbridge), the man who denied Jigsaw coverage. He’s put through a series of tests that involve multiple test subjects who must die, but William gets to choose who. It’s the classic Jigsaw method of realizing your wrongdoing, but in this installment, the lesson actually makes sense. It was easy for William to deny people coverage, and send them out the door to their deaths. Now that he’s actually doing the deed and has to look them in the eye while doing so, he’s able to truly realize the impact his decisions make on people.

The best example, and one of my favorite traps in the series, is the carousel trap, a sort of extreme Russian roulette where William’s employees tied to a carousel must face the barrel of a shotgun. William has to choose which four of the people get to live, and it’s darkly comical seeing his six employees try to lie about themselves and each other in order to survive. While it’s played for laughs, I find it an accurate representation of how people in that situation would act. When the final victim is turning towards his death and tells William to look him in his eyes while he kills him, he actually feels remorse for his actions. He’s one of the few characters in the franchise with a clear-cut character arc. That of course doesn’t stop him from dying a gruesome death after all that anyway. We’re at six films now, and we can’t have one time where the protagonist actually wins? I know this is a horror film series, but come on.

It’s also the first time we really get to see Hoffman do a lot more than just stand and walk around. We got all the info we needed in Saw V to explain his involvement with Jigsaw, so now he’s free to actually be Jigsaw. While he’s initially successful at framing Agent Strahm, some irregularities come up that make Strahm’s partners continue to suspect him. This eventually leads to one of the most intense scenes in the series, where Hoffman is surrounded by FBI agents as they decode the voice on one of his Jigsaw tapes. “Right now, you’re feeling helpless,” he hears over and over as the tension mounts. Just when it’s revealed to be his voice, he lashes out and murders everybody in the room. With this scene, Hoffman joins the ranks with Michael, Jason, and much more as one of the most badass horror film characters ever. When he’s backed into a corner, he has no choice but to resort to instinct and act like an animal, and it’s always awesome to see. Although he’s a murderer, Jigsaw would be proud of his survival instinct, no doubt.

We also get to learn more about Jill and her relationship with Jigsaw. It turns out she had knowledge of John’s work as Jigsaw the entire time, although she disagreed with it. That didn’t stop her from having an extreme devotion to her husband, even after death. Jigsaw left an ominous black box to Jill in his will, which contains the information for William Easton’s test and for somebody else: Mark Hoffman. While it was predictable that this is where the story would eventually go, it was so incredibly satisfying seeing Hoffman being put into the reverse bear trap. It felt like a culmination of everything here: all of our questions were resolved to a perfectly edited, shot, and scored montage of the entire series. This really would have been the perfect ending for the series, but with more films planned at this point, of course Hoffman survives in the most awesome way ever.

Even without a complete resolution, I honestly find Saw VI to possibly be the best in the series. Yes, maybe even better than the original. It has all of the story and heart, but with better performances and production values overall. It’s too bad that this installment being the best since the first didn’t translate to better box office returns. In fact, Saw VI is the worst performing Saw film and by a very wide margin. You see, around that time a little film known as Paranormal Activity was becoming a sensation across the country. It became the new big film to see around Halloween time and unfortunately, the Saw franchise had become an afterthought for most. When Saw VI was released, it made even less in its opening weekend than the original Saw did, becoming the lowest grossing entry in the series. It was clear at this time that the Saw series no longer had the cultural edge it used to.

“Some people are so ungrateful to be alive, but not you. Not anymore.”

Here we are, ladies and gentlemen. The denouement, the resolution, the final chapter, as they say. Yes, in 2010, Saw 3D was released to be the final film of the series. Notice how there’s no roman numeral in that title there? Yep, Saw VII (which it should have been called) was released right after the big 3D craze Avatar reignited back in 2009. It was the perfect opportunity for Liongsate after the awful box office performance of Saw VI. A 3D film equates to higher ticket prices and more interest in general. This was also to be the final film in the series, and they definitely made that known in the advertising with “THE FINAL CHAPTER” being plastered across every poster. They tried everything they could to put people back in the seats.

We have Kevin Greutert returning as director, but not without a lot of behind the scenes drama. David Hackl was originally going to direct Saw 3D, but when Greutert was hired by Paramount to direct Paranormal Activity 2, Lionsgate (being crybabies) pulled some legal strings to pull him back in. This brought Greutert on very late into pre-production and he performed a quick rewrite of the screenplay, which already had some issues to begin with. There were eight Saw films at this point, but after Saw VI performed so poorly, Melton and Dunstan were forced to condense the screenplays of Saw VII and VIII into one film. All of these behind the scenes issues unfortunately rear their ugly heads all over this film.

First off, choosing to shoot and release the film in 3D was a poor decision. It made sense for Lionsgate at the time, due to the big 3D craze, but in hindsight, a standard film would have obviously been better. While the 3D was well done, it was your typical horror film 3D effects of blood and body parts flying out of the screen. There are some neat POV shots that kind of “put you in the traps”, but they’re few and far between. None of the 3D stuff translates well to a 2D viewing and comes off as super hokey. The biggest is offense are the blood effects, which look pink, rather than red! This was probably because wearing 3D glasses darkens the image, so they had to lighten the blood to make it look visible. When you don’t have a dark filter over your eyes, though, it just looks like people walking around with strawberry syrup smeared all over them. It’s the worst.

This was the final chapter, though! It was time to be excited! Finally, all of that stuff they were making up as they went along finally was going to resolve! The biggest issue is, until the last 15 minutes or so, Saw 3D doesn’t feel like a final chapter film at all. Yet again, we have another plot structure of one guy going through a series of traps where he has to save others, but without the thematic depth of Saw III or VI. This time it’s (another) new character Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flannery), a Jigsaw game survivor who turned his story into fame and fortune. It turns out he was lying the whole time, so Jigsaw decides to put him through a real test. The concept of a guy lying about being put into a Jigsaw trap, starting a survivors group, and using it for fame is a great idea, but we’re on the final film here! Why should I care about this Bobby guy and his game now?

Bobby isn’t the only new character thrown in just to justify a plot. With all previous law enforcement characters dead, we meet a whole host of the most generic police officers you can think of. After seeing Hoffman escape from his trap, Jill contacts Internal Affairs Officer Matt Gibson (Chad Donella) for immunity and protection. Gibson is by far the worst character in the entire franchise. The actor sucks, his dialogue is hilariously terrible, and his character is written like a complete moron. They try to justify his existence with a flashback explaining Hoffman wanting revenge on him for some dumb reason, but it’s so forced. Perhaps if he had some bit roles in Saw V and VI, or something, it would have been better. The actor still would have sucked, though.

At least Hoffman is awesome, and the main bright spot of this mess. He’s on the warpath now, wanting to murder Jill for the trap she put him in. The only reason he puts Bobby’s game into action is simply as a distraction to keep the authorities busy, so he can get Jill. The way he goes about it is completely convoluted and really makes no sense in any context of time or space, but I still love it. Hoffman is just awesome. He’s cunning, he’s ruthless, uncompromising, and simply doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He’s an intelligent man with all of the instincts of an animal: when he has his sights set on a kill, he never gives up until he has it. Watching him rampage through the police station at the end and slaughter everybody in his path to get to Jill is the best part of the film. It all culminates in what Saw fans have been waiting to see since the beginning: the reverse bear trap in action. When Hoffman gets his ultimate revenge and uses it on Jill, it’s glorious. It’s all fan service at this point, but it’s better than everything else we’ve been getting so far.

Which leads us to the biggest fan service moment of all. We finally get to see the return of the man, the myth, the legend: Dr. Lawrence Gordon. After his fate was left ambiguous at the end of the first Saw, fans speculated for years about his true fate. His return is handled quite poorly, with hardly any impact or fanfare. He appears in one scene at the beginning, and it’s quite obvious what’s going to happen with him. The prominent theory was that he becomes one of Jigsaw’s apprentices, and this is finally confirmed at the end of Saw 3D. Dr. Gordon assisted Jigsaw throughout many of the series’ events and Jigsaw leaves him with one final request after he dies: watch over Jill, and if anything happens to her, to take care of it. He definitely takes care of it by knocking out Hoffman, and locking him up in the bathroom of the original film. As sloppy as it all is, it’s kind of nice to see the series come full circle and actually have a semblance of a conclusion.

“Game over.”

And with that, it was all over. I remember feeling a little bittersweet about the whole thing. While the series was definitely starting to go on for too long and some installments were lackluster, that annual tradition was no longer. No more speculation, or fan theories. No more trying to avoid spoilers. No more trying to come up with our own ideas for the series. Saw was finally finished.

At least for the time being. Legends never really die, especially in Hollywood. While Saw 3D was advertised as the final chapter, it didn’t stop Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures from greenlighting the new installment called Jigsaw seven years later. Aside from Tobin Bell, editor Kevin Greutert, and composter Charlie Clouser, we have a completely new cast and crew continuing the series. It’ll be nice to see what some fresh blood brings to the table, and judging by the trailer, it seems to be going in a more self-aware route this time around. Since they’re somewhat rebranding the franchise after such a long wait between films, it’s the perfect opportunity to be a little experimental.

I admit that I’m bit of a hypocrite here and incredibly biased. For as much as I complain about pointless reboots and sequels, I’m very excited for Jigsaw. It’s simply because the series is so near and dear to my heart. Just like the previous films, I’ll be watching this with my dad, who’s also eager to see where the series goes next. Will it be a good film? Probably not, but that’s not what I expect. Like I said before, the Saw films are not high art, but they’re still some of the most entertaining, engrossing, and intricate horror films out there. With Jigsaw, I’m expecting a lot of over the top traps, bad acting, a complicated narrative, an insane twisting, and gratuitous gore all crammed into a 90-minute runtime. If I get all that and an interesting continuation of the story, then I’ll be happy to see it continue into Jigsaw II, Jigsaw III, so on, and so forth.

Just remember, everyone. If it’s Halloween, then it must be Saw.

Saw – 9/10 

Saw II – 9/10 

Saw III – 8.5/10 

Saw IV – 5.5/10 

Saw V – 5/10 

Saw VI – 9/10 

Saw 3D – 4/10

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