‘Do you want to play a game’; these are the words that will strike a chord with fans of the Saw franchise. Ranking the saw movies is very subjective because ever since the release of the first meager-budgeted Saw, we have seen Tobin Bell playing Jigsaw, a character what can proudly be placed in the company of other famous horror movie characters like Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. As a cancer patient who has gone through tragedy and trauma in his life, John Kramer (Tobin Bell) takes it upon himself to transform people who do not value the gift of life in the most brutal way possible.
The films are a mix of brutal violence and mind numbing torture interlaced with heavy moral messages. So, how many Saw movies many are there ? Released just before Halloween every year since 2004, the franchise has spawned 7 movies. But as with every other movie franchise, the makers tend to overdo it and the franchise usually loses steam after a while. Nevertheless, every movie has been commercially successful and I am sure torture porn fans would be salivating for more. For anyone who hasn’t seen the all Saw movies here they are: ranked in order of merit, from the worst to the best. What do you think is the top Saw movie among all? If you are looking for chronological order of all Saw movies then just check out the release dates below.
7. Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010)
The moment I came to know that the final installment in the series is going to be a 3D affair, I was left disappointed. Usage of 3D and words like ‘Final Chapter’ usually follow a movie that does not have a very strong script. Rightly so, in Saw 3D’s case the makers don’t have much in terms of storyline and have relied on brutal torture and a pair of 3D glasses to rake in the moolah. The film has two parallel plotlines, one with Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), who is desperately trying to clean the mess he created in the prequels and Jill (Betsy Russel) who is Jigsaw’s ex.
The other plotline follows a fame hungry guy Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery) who falsely claims to have been a Jigsaw survivor but incidentally finds himself in the middle of a real Jigsaw game. This is the worst movie in the series since the makers decided to fuse the plotlines for the seventh and the eighth installment together due to poor reviews for the 5th and the 6th instalment. On watching the movie, it is pretty evident that the series had lost all its steam by then.
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6. Saw 5 (2008)
After the death of Jigsaw and the continuance of his legacy by Detective Hoffman, the film again departs from its previous narrating style back to a parallel one. Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) suspects Hoffman of being a Jigsaw accomplice while Hoffman picks his 5 victims for a new game. The problem with the film is that unlike its predecessors, the narrative is just too weak and the acting (especially the victims) is too shoddy to take this film all the way. There are positive elements to it such as the timeline as it draws parallels with Saw 3. But it’s just not enough to deserve a place in an up to then good film series and definitely doesn’t deserve two more sequels.
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5. Saw 6 (2009)
More energetic and less disappointing than its predecessor, Saw 6 is all blood and gore. If you have reached the sixth movie, then you definitely are a fan of the series and this film is like a desperately needed adrenaline shot to an already far stretched franchise. The film again takes you back in to Kramer’s tragic life story, this time in the form of an insurance agent, William Easton (Peter Outerbridge). Easton had rejected Kramer’s request for an experimental treatment. Hoffman abducts him and puts him through a series of tests to save his co-workers.
Now, let me digress a bit here. What I love about the Saw films is the creativity of the killing contraptions. The carousel trap that figures in this movie might just pass down as an engineering marvel had it not been used to splinter people apart. To those who do not know, all contraptions in every Saw film are actual working mechanisms, that is if a person were to be really trapped in one of them, he or she would be killed in that fashion. The film also puts some more light on Kramer’s relationship with Jill right before his death.
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4. Saw 4 (2007)
This is not a terribly bad film by any measure, but creatively speaking there comes a point in a film franchise where the makers should just put a full stop. But the box office collections for the third installment were too strong to ignore and hence the 4th film. This film targets Lieutenant Rigg, an honest cop whose obsession is to try and save people no matter what. Now, this seems a pretty harmless obsession to begin with, but not for Jigsaw apparently. He comes across a pimp, a rapist, a spousal abuser, a lawyer and at the end Eric Matthews from the second movie and Detective Hoffman. He is brainwashed by Jigsaw into putting these people to the ‘test’. A bit different in its narrative than the earlier three films, it encompasses the viewer into thinking whether the victims deserve their punishment or not. To those who haven’t seen the film, a nice twist toward the end awaits you.
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3. Saw 2 (2005)
When a low budget film like Saw makes a lot of money, a sequel is bound to be made. Probably this is the film that laid the foundation for the trademark machine induced brutality that are showcased in the future films. Detective Eric Matthews is drawn into Jigsaw’s complex plans at the same time Kramer is orchestrating another scheme with a room full of disparate characters. They are in some or the other way connected with Eric, whose son is apprehended by Kramer and will be returned to him if he just stays and chats with him. Kramer’s backstory and his Jigsaw philosophy uttered in Tobin Bell’s baritone have etched the character’s name right up there with the antihero flagbearer, Hannibal Lecter.
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2. Saw 3 (2006)
As with most franchises, the makers had just three movies in mind and Saw 3 would have been a perfect ending to a decent horror franchise. One might as well be satisfied at stopping at this movie without watching the rest and still be satisfied with its ending. Any hero or anti-hero who is doing a ‘kind-of-social-service’ deserves someone who will take up his mantle.
Again with two parallel plots, it allows the viewers to empathize with Jeff (Angus Macfayden), whose son has been killed in a hit and run at the same time it takes us into the mind (literally) of John Kramer and his immaculate planning in testing Jeff’s wife Lynn and his apprentice Amanda Young. Without giving away too much of the plot, I can say that this was a well-crafted film with an end to the franchise in mind but also has a few open endings for future films. It has enough blood and thrills to keep fans on the edge while taking us into the depravity of Jigsaw’s mind and the depths he can go to, to test his subjects.
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1. Saw (2004)
Is this film perfect? Well, far from it, but the original is still the best out of the seven. The plot seems simple at first as we follow Dr. Lawrence Gordon and Adam, the photographer chained in a claustrophobic bathroom with a dead body lying between them. The mini recorder that would feature in all the sequels tells Gordon to kill Adam and tells Adam to escape the bathroom. Though the sequels received the ‘torture porn’ tag for its violence and depravity, the first film introduces us to the world of mechanical traps and the sheer brutality of what would follow when the two people realize that the chains cannot be cut, instead they need to saw off their feet.
Made on a very meagre budget, it was very original for its time and fans of the franchise will still feel a chill down their spine remembering the last scene of the film. The iconic ‘game over’ and Charlie Clouser’s series defining score make it a very satisfying watch for first timers.
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