Following a seven-year break, the Saw franchise is back on the big screen with the eighth instalment Jigsaw arriving in cinemas today.
Revolving around John Kramer aka Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) the series is a surprisingly intelligent one regularly interweaving storylines from previous films and turning things on its head when you least expect it. The films did get more gratuitous as they went on but they are all very entertaining.
With Jigsaw killed off after the first three films, others continued his work including his faithful assistant Amanda (Shawnee Smith). It remains to be seen how Jigsaw makes a comeback for the newest movie but we’re sure it’s going to be pretty clever.
I’ve taken a look back the previous seven films and ranked them…
7. Saw 3D
I’m hoping Jigsaw can right the wrongs of this mess. Saw 3D was a terrible movie. It’s genuinely the only film in the series that I didn’t care for at all. The film tried to serve up a shocking twist by revealing that Gordon (Cary Elwes) had been assisting Jigsaw since the first movie. I didn’t buy it and leaving Hoffman’s (Costas Mandylor) fate unresolved was really disappointing.
6. Saw II
Expectations were so high after the first Saw but the sequel was a disappointment. In place of the clever horror of the first movie, Saw II changed tactic to cheap shocks and it just didn’t feel as clever as its predecessor. The best part of the movie was the reveal that Amanda was in league with Jigsaw all along and it was a genuine shocker, especially after she put herself through the pit of needles. Ouch!
5. Saw IV
The different characters established so far in the series were thrown together kind of in this patchy sequel. The deaths were inventive and the reveal of Hoffman as Jigsaw’s accomplice was a surprise (and it made me pretty happy as I couldn’t stand him). What it did get right was giving Jigsaw’s girlfriend Jill (Betsy Russell) more of a back-story and filled in a lot of the blanks around Jigsaw himself.
4. Saw VI
Possibly one of the most gratuitously violent instalments in the series, Saw VI opened with a stomach churning sequence involving a woman cutting off her arm and a man cutting fat off his body to try and escape from a trap. Yuck. The main victim in this one is William Easton (Peter Outerbridge), an insurance executive forced into Jigsaw’s game to save the lives of his colleagues and family. That carousel bit still makes me a little woozy!
3. Saw V
This instalment comes third thanks to the thrilling and shocking opening sequence. The film opens with a man chained to a table while a swinging pendulum blade lowers over his torso. It’s edge of the seat stuff and Saw at its best. There’s some very clumsy exposition on the part of Agent Strahm but that aside it’s a genuinely entertaining instalment that ties things back to the third movie.
2. Saw III
After the disappointing second movie, things got back on track with Saw III. In my opinion it’s almost as good as the first movie and it’s definitely one of the cleverest. Amanda kidnapped Dr. Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) on Jigaw’s orders after he became bed-ridden with terminal cancer. Forced to keep Jigsaw alive, Lynn does everything she can unaware that her husband Jeff (Angus Macfadyen) is trapped in Jigsaw’s latest game.
It’s a cliché but the original is still the best. The first Saw film was more psychological horror than the instalments that followed and it was genuinely different and unnerving. The twist that came in the later part of the movie turned everything on its head and it forced other horror movies to be more creative. It has one of the lowest box office numbers of the series but it more than made its budget back. I still wince at that foot cutting moment.
Jigsaw opens in cinemas across the UK today. Watch the trailer for the movie below: