This weekend, Seeing X is out in theaters and the newest sequel keeps Jigsaw’s legacy alive. Or we can call it a “midquel” if you want, because the film’s story is set in between the two Saw And Viewing II. Since the debut of its first film in 2004, Saw has proven to be one of the toughest and best horror franchises around magic And Dangerous. Even killing off a major character didn’t stop Lionsgate from revisiting Jigsaw and his students again and again. The films even made Jigsaw’s puppet, Billy (pictured above), one of the franchise’s most iconic creations.
Now that’s it Seeing X has arrived, it’s the perfect opportunity to rank all 10 films in the Saw franchise. There’s definitely a drastic drop in quality from the worst films to the best. But it’s also good to say that Seeing X offers some promising signs that the filmmakers may finally realize why the franchise floundered and provides some ideas for how it might continue beyond its 20th anniversary next year.
The biggest reason Seeing V the final rating out of 10 is because this is the one that feels most like a cash grab. Audiences tend to dislike sequels that don’t have much of a reason to exist. The continuation of the story from the previous film brings back Agent Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) and Detective Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) for a game of cat and mouse after Strahm survives a deadly trap he shouldn’t have avoided.
It’s also easy to hate every one of Jigsaw’s victims in this film, including Brit (Julie Benz), Mallick (Greg Bryk), and Luba (Meagan Good). The main lesson here is that if filmmakers want the audience to care about the people who are being “tested,” then there has to be a modicum of decency in the characters so the audience can latch on to them. On the other hand, there is very little humanity to be found in this film.
Watch Seeing V on Peacock.
After walking Viewing III end, Viewing IV had to do a lot of heavy lifting to justify another sequel since all the previous main characters were dead, including John Kramer! The solution is to introduce another Jigsaw intern, while sending Officer Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent) through a trial that revisits some of the more egregious mistakes in his career that left people injured.
Elsewhere, FBI Agents Peter Strahm (Patterson) and Lindsey Perez (Athena Karkanis) learn more about Kramer’s life and motivations from his ex-wife, Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell). The film was also more violent than its predecessor, so it did not win many awards from critics.
Watch Viewing IV on Peacock.
Guess what, there’s another secret Jigsaw apprentice Jigsaw! The franchise really starts to show its age in the eighth film, especially since the previous film seems to have killed off the last of Jigsaw’s apprentices. The story begins a decade after John Kramer’s death, when Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) finds himself framed as the new Jigsaw by his newest apprentice.
Meanwhile, Eleanor Bonneville (Hannah Emily Anderson) has developed a very unhealthy obsession with Jigsaw and Kramer’s traps themselves. This allows the real killer to cast suspicion on him while he operates in the shadows.
Watch Jigsaw on Prime Video.
Chris Rock personally provided Lionsgate with ideas for a different type Saw film. The result is Spiral, the ninth film in the franchise that is more like a spin-off. This is also the only one Saw films in which Tobin Bell did not reprise his role as John Kramer. In the film, Jigsaw’s legacy inspires a copycat killer who has a specific agenda in mind.
Detective Zeke Banks (Rock) has a connection to a Jigsaw impersonator, although he doesn’t immediately realize it. It concerns the tainted legacy of Zeke’s father, Marcus Banks (Samuel L. Jackson), who was also a cop, and the culture of police corruption that continues to this day. These copycat killers attempt to intimidate the police by eliminating the most corrupt members of the police force in increasingly brutal ways. A real Jigsaw would be proud.
View VI feels very similar Occupy Saw because Jigsaw’s targets in the film are predatory lenders as well as greedy healthcare company executives and employees. This all happens just in time for 2009. This also makes William Easton (Peter Outerbridge) a very unlikely protagonist, as he is probably the worst executive at his healthcare company. He adamantly refuses insurance for patients, but his trial puts his co-workers’ lives at risk. And despite his success, William still had to let several of his colleagues die.
Meanwhile, reporter Pamela Jenkins (Samantha Lemole) pushes her efforts to expose Jigsaw too far, while Tara Abbott (Shauna MacDonald) and her son, Brent (Devon Bostick), attempt to find out why Jigsaw is testing her, too. Both subplots ultimately return to William.
Watch View VI on Peacock.
As you might have guessed, Saw: The Final Chapter less than final. But the same thing happens Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, which is the fourth film in the long-running franchise. In this case, Last chapter is the seventh installment of Saw, and it was intended to be the real ending. On that level, it works very well as cover for Mark Hoffman (Mandylor), Jigsaw’s apprentice. Many characters also return from previous films, although they only appear briefly.
Aside from Hoffman’s rampage, the film’s main story belongs to Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery), a man who finds fame and fortune after surviving one of Jigsaw’s traps. Or so Bobby made everyone believe. To punish Bobby for his lies, Hoffman gave him a series of tests even more brutal than he had created. And if Bobby fails, his wife, Joyce (Gina Holden), will suffer the consequences.
Watch Saw: The Final Chapter on Peacock.
second film, Viewing II, ups the stakes from the first film by expanding the scope of the Jigsaw game to include more than just a handful of people. Kramer (Bell) also steps out of the shadows and allows himself to be captured by Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg), only to reveal that Eric’s son, Daniel (Erik Knudsen), is one of the victims in his latest game.
Amanda (Shawnee Smith) also returns, and one of the best surprises in the film is that she isn’t the final girl of the film. Saw. He was meant to be the next Jigsaw, and Amanda only took part in this trial to ensure that the newest victim followed the rules of the game.
If the Saw franchise had ended Viewing III, then it will be considered one of the best horror trilogies ever. Unlike the first two films, this film spends a lot of time with John Kramer (Bell) as he is on his deathbed. Kramer’s student, Amanda Young (Smith), also kidnaps Dr. Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) to help him keep Kramer alive a little longer. However, due to her paranoia, Amanda becomes jealous of Lynn’s interactions with Kramer.
Meanwhile, Lynn’s husband Jeff Denlon (Angus Macfadyen) is faced with a series of Jigsaw-style puzzles. But in the end, everyone is being tested by John, and the wrong choice may leave no one alive to tell the tale.
Jigsaw is dead, but John Kramer is never far from the franchise. Instead of the flashback gimmicks of the previous films, Seeing X bringing the iconic character of Tobin Bell to life with a story set before his death Viewing III. When this film aired, Kramer was in dire need of healing for the terminal cancer he was suffering from. Cecilia Pederson (Synnøve Macody Lund) offers Kramer the hope he needs with an experimental procedure in Mexico.
When Pederson’s promise turns out to be an elaborate ruse, Kramer does what you’d expect by kidnapping Pederson and his henchmen for another elaborate game of Jigsaw. This is one of the few moments where Kramer’s anger seems justified, but that doesn’t mean that his Jigsaw traps and challenges are any less brutal. Regardless, the reason why this sequel stands out above the rest is because, in the end, Kramer seems like a real person outside of his Jigsaw persona. There is real sadness in Kramer’s portrayal in this film, to the point where he takes revenge.
Seeing X now playing in theaters.
Cary Elwes and Danny Glover were the most established players in the original Saw, and both give some of the best performances in the series. Under the direction of James Wan, Saw much calmer than the later films. Most of the film takes place in a ruined bathroom where two strangers, Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Elwes) and Adam (Leigh Whannell), chained at their feet and given conflicting instructions by their unseen captors. Adam was ordered to live, while Gordon was ordered to kill Adam to save his wife and daughter.
Through flashbacks, the film reveals how Gordon became a suspect in the Jigsaw murders, and Detective David Tapp (Glover) remains convinced of his guilt. This is also the film that introduced Smith as Amanda, one of Jigsaw’s earliest victims in the now-iconic upside-down bear trap placed on his head. Nearly 20 years after its release, Saw remains the best film in the franchise, in part because it wasn’t intended to be more than one film. It tells a story that needs to be told and has a definitive, and still surprising, ending.