Review: Saw X

Jigsaw’s back, both literally and figuratively in the franchises latest output ‘Saw X’. Benefitting from a lot more Tobin Bell in his iconic role of the murderous engineer ‘Jigsaw’, the film is something of a return to form after a couple of middling sequels seemed to cause the powerhouse franchise to run out of steam. For the most part it’s a hit, save some niggling plot developments towards the end of the film.

The films plot, set somewhere between the first and second movies, sees John Kramer (AKA jigsaw) desperately searching for a cure for his terminal cancer. After receiving a tip from a cancer survivor he contacts a company, operating off grid due to claims that successful treatments has forced their practice underground by ‘big-pharma’. After an elaborate transfer from the US to Mexico, he finally makes it, undergoes the procedure, but its not before long he realises the roles have been reversed and, in this case, he’s the mark.

Needless to say it doesn’t take long before he put together elaborate plans for his revenge, and the ‘games’ begin.

To say the ‘Saw’ movies have become formulaic would be something of an understatement, but to be honest, there’s no loss of understanding what the audience wants – its just how hit or miss the elaborate babble leading up to the traps ends up being. In ‘Saw X’, I’ve got to say, the setup to the films torture sequence is probably one of the best in the franchise. Naturally the film opens with a trap, and naturally it’s a good one, but the film seems intentionally restraint and very deliberate in its pacing, clearly wanting to develop ‘Jigsaw’s’ backstory and character a little more.

And it was a good call. Whilst the film doesn’t go too much into his past, more so his plight, the additional time given to John Kramer – man, rather than murder, helps in parts to highlight his almost lucid insanity, and prophetic pull to those who end up his allies. Whilst I won’t say there are any great revelations and attempts to make him something of an anti-hero don’t quite land, but the oddly emotional gravitas given to the opener seemed oddly refreshing in a franchise that’s 12 films deep!

Naturally once this setup is out of the way it’s on to the main event, and the traps certainly don’t disappoint. Again, rather than mass murder, the smaller group of victims allows the film to maintain a degree of continuity with the set up. I wouldn’t say the traps presented are the franchises most elaborate or even likely to become all that iconic, but they deliver pain, suffering, blood and body parts in equal abandon. There’s a scene which involved leg severing which made me feel something queasy, whilst some self-operated brain surgery certainly delivers a drawn-out gory spectacle. Given the franchises notoriety, the effects and everything are absolutely top-notch and its honestly amazing just how gory and bloodthirsty mainstream horror has become! (I mean remember the days Zombie Flesh Eaters was banned?). Rest assured; this film is gory. Unashamedly so.

Is it then without fault? Well no.

The films final act falls foul to its own formula – the need for a ‘twist’ ending. I’ve actually taken Umbridge with several of the franchises (often reaching) final reveal/expositions, namely because they are just overly convoluted and not really needed; here however, I just felt the films powerplay was really obvious. Indeed, as a result, the final sets of traps are just in no-way as visceral or satisfying as those that came before it, which was a shame; the movie just needed something more of a grand-er finale, and we’d be in.

Overall though, ‘Saw X’ is a satisfyingly gory entry in a much beloved franchise which does justice to its enduring iconic antagonist. I’d say that if you’re already not much of a fan, the film isn’t going to win you over, as its still very much the torture-porn-fest I think fans have come to love, but equally so, I think this film is more a love letter to those fans who’ve endured over the years to keep Jigsaw top of the horror antagonist pack – certainly post millennium.  For me, some-one who is something of a casual fan, I think it genuinely impressive just how much heart clearly goes into keeping this franchise kicking and this movie is far from a cash in. I’d even go as far as to say that its probably one of the stronger entries in the long running series.

Previous post Mercy Falls comes to UK digital on 6 November 2023
Next post Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches Season 1 comes to Blu-ray, DVD & digital on 8 January