John Kramer aka Jigsaw staring at audiences in a blue light

Saw X

December 27, 2023
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This franchise won’t stay dead, and this time around, that isn’t an entirely bad thing!

A sequel that’s a prequel that fits right in between the original movie and the series’ second entry, Saw X shifts its narrative focus almost entirely to the franchise’s iconic villain, Jigsaw aka John Kramer (Tobin Bell), as he yet again finds creative ways to maim but not necessarily murder the unfortunate people who cross his path, all under the guise of “helping” them to see the error in their ways. Traveling to Mexico to partake in an experimental medical treatment that could potentially save his life after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, it isn’t long before Jigsaw is up to his old tricks again after it’s revealed that the treatment isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. What follows is a return to form for a franchise that’s had a bit of an identity crisis as of late, but has now finally given fans something to scream about once again.

First of all, I have to commend this series for hitting a sequel number that not even the most popular horror franchises are able to reach. From its humble beginnings featuring a pair of characters chained to the floor armed with only a hacksaw and a tape recorder to becoming an inexplicably convoluted yet still gory and entertaining set of films that even the most hardcore of fans have trouble following, Saw X finds a way to split the difference in a way that makes it far superior to the past few sequels, while simultaneously showing that there’s still life in a torture porn franchise that’s mostly been on the downswing for years. Full of the usual nasty and inventive kills that the series is known for, most of these death traps feel slightly scaled back in this entry yet still give goosebumps when handled correctly, especially the few involving eyeballs, fingers, and a whole lot of blood. Throw in some surprising character development that turns John Kramer into an actual living, breathing character, and Saw X has no right being as decent as it is, though it isn’t without its abundance of flaws.

When blood isn’t splashing, and limbs aren’t being dismembered, some of the less-than-stellar parts of this movie stick out like a sore thumb. Putting aside the suspension of disbelief that Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith (as the original acolyte of Jigsaw, Amanda Young) are playing versions of their characters that are decades younger than their current age, the welcome attention paid to fleshing out John Kramer’s character sometimes makes the story grind to a halt, specifically during a first act that drags far more often than it should. Throw in a few other moments that simply don’t work from a story and character standpoint, as well as the traditional Saw twist being, in all honesty, a little underwhelming, and the schlockiness of this film eventually breaks through by the end of it all, ultimately still making this one a success but only just barely.

I’m not saying this is a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but I will admit that this is a much better Saw film than the soft reboots and relaunches we’ve gotten with the past two entries, and believe it or not, that’s saying something. Saw X won’t win over anyone who checked out of this series years ago, but for what it’s worth and for fans of the franchise, this entry course corrects in a way that makes the wait for the already announced eleventh film in the franchise that much harder to deal with.

This franchise won’t stay dead, and this time around, that isn’t an entirely bad thing! A sequel that’s a prequel that fits right in between the original movie and the series’ second entry, Saw X shifts its narrative focus almost entirely to the franchise’s iconic villain, Jigsaw aka John Kramer (Tobin Bell), as he yet again finds creative ways to maim but not necessarily murder the unfortunate people who cross his path, all under the guise of "helping" them to see the error in their ways. Traveling to Mexico to partake in an experimental medical treatment that could potentially save his life after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, it isn’t long before Jigsaw is up to his old tricks again after it’s revealed that the treatment isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. What follows is a return to form for a franchise that’s had a bit of an identity crisis as of late, but has now finally given fans something to scream about once again. First of all, I have to commend this series for hitting a sequel number that not even the most popular horror franchises are able to reach. From its humble beginnings featuring a pair of characters chained to the floor armed with only a hacksaw and a tape recorder to becoming an inexplicably convoluted yet still gory and entertaining set of films that even the most hardcore of fans have trouble following, Saw X finds a way to split the difference in a way that makes it far superior to the past few sequels, while simultaneously showing that there's still life in a torture porn franchise that's mostly been on the downswing for years. Full of the usual nasty and inventive kills that the series is known for, most of these death traps feel slightly scaled back in this entry yet still give goosebumps when handled correctly, especially the few involving eyeballs, fingers, and a whole lot of blood. Throw in some surprising character development that turns John Kramer into an actual living, breathing character, and Saw X has no right being as decent as it is, though it isn’t without its abundance of flaws. When blood isn’t splashing, and limbs aren’t being dismembered, some of the less-than-stellar parts of this movie stick out like a sore thumb. Putting aside the suspension of disbelief that Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith (as the original acolyte of Jigsaw, Amanda Young) are playing versions of their characters that are decades younger than their current age, the welcome attention paid to fleshing out John Kramer’s character sometimes makes the story grind to a halt, specifically during a first act that drags far more often than it should. Throw in a few other moments that simply don’t work from a story and character standpoint, as well as the traditional Saw twist being, in all honesty, a little underwhelming, and the schlockiness of this film eventually breaks through by the end of it all, ultimately still making this one a success but only just barely. I’m not saying this…

6.5

Saw's Back!

The Verdict

6.5

7

Brian is first and foremost a nerd in every way shape and form. He likes to compare himself to a black hole, consuming any and every form of entertainment unlucky enough to get caught in his gravitational pull. It's not uncommon on any given day for him to read a couple comics, settle down with a good book, watch a few movies (inside and out of the theater), catch up on his ever growing but never depleting Hulu queue, challenge himself with a few good video games, listen to any music he can get his hands on and, of course, write his heart out. He spends every waking moment dreaming up interesting and intriguing concepts and ideas that will hopefully one day inspire and entertain anyone looking for an escape from their daily lives. Graduating from Full Sail University in good old humid Florida, Brian currently lives and works in New York City and is waiting for the day when all he has to do is wake up and create something unique and new for people to enjoy. He is always in the process of writing scripts and stories and is constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance and build his creative drive. After all, life is just one big story, all that really matters is how you strive to make it the best story possible. Disclaimer: Brian does not actually have powdered green skin in case anyone was wondering. A Skrull I am not. Blame the guys at the Color Run for this one.

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