Ranking the Saw Films: Greatest to… Well, Least Greatest
- Saw VI: Hoffman discovers someone from his past is still alive, and desperately tries to cover his tracks so that no one finds out he is the new Jigsaw. Meanwhile, healthcare insurance executive William Easton, Jigsaw’s former healthcare provider, is the latest victim of a series of Jigsaw traps where he must choose who lives or dies—all this to teach him the value of human life. THE GOOD: bringing in the real world component of the healthcare industry made the movie very much “about” something real, since health insurance is a hot-button issue in recent years. Also, William was the rare Jigsaw victim who actually learned what he was supposed to learn. THE BAD: Unfortunately, him learning his lesson and becoming better for it didn’t matter in the long run; it couldn’t save his life. In the end, he was a victim of revenge and hate alone. THE UGLY: Making Hoffman a bad guy. Amanda and John were both given sympathetic moments where they weren’t all bad. And here was Hoffman: a guy who, unlike John and Amanda, didn’t make a free choice to get involved in the games, but was blackmailed into it. He had the most reason to be likable and sympathetic. That all went out the window in this one. Hoffman became a mean jerk/killing machine. By the end, there’s no way anyone could like him.
- Saw II: Jigsaw is found in his lair by the police squad, and reveals his latest game: a house of people slowly dying of nerve gas as they search for the antidote: one of whom is the son of Detective Eric Matthews. His game is that Eric Matthew must sit and talk to Jigsaw for a while in order to find his son alive. THE GOOD: The dialogue between Jigsaw and Eric Matthew is some of the most thought-provoking dialogue in a horror movie. It’s often hard to tell who the real bad guy is: John Kramer or Eric. Also, the return to the bathroom was fantastic. THE BAD: Some of the acting and actors in the trap house were mediocre at best. The Xavier character annoyed me throughout the entire film. THE UGLY: This time, I mean ugly in a good way. The end of the movie was so painfully great. Realizing that Eric’s missing son Daniel had been in the room with him the whole time, and that all he had to do was control his temper long enough for time to run out so the safe was opened and he’d see his son, was absolutely heartbreaking and infuriating. It’s impossible not to feel for Eric but to also not want to punch him in the face for being so stupid.
- Saw: Okay, I admit that one of the main reasons this one didn’t make the number 2 spot is because of Donnie Wahlberg. I’m a huge New Kids fan, and I adore Donnie. So Saw II is pretty high up on my list because it has the most of him in it. But the other reason the original isn’t higher up on my list is because I’ve become the most disillusioned with this one since I’ve seen it maybe one too many times. Still, you never forget your first love, and so the original film will always hold a special place in my heart. The concept is so simple; two men wake up chained in a bathroom and try to figure out who put them there and how they can get out. When you really think about it, it’s hard to believe that such a detailed, intricate franchise all started with a tiny little concept and a tiny little slow-paced film. THE GOOD: Um, have you seen that ending?! THE BAD: The acting was over the top every now and then. And there were a couple of tiny plotholes, but that’s okay. THE UGLY: Again, in a good way: that ending still haunts me every time I watch it. Adam’s screams at the end are bone-chilling and ugly in a very creepy way. Imagine being in his shoes.
- Saw IV: Jigsaw is now dead, but the murders continue. Two new FBI agents try to track down the third Jigsaw killer, while Officer Rigg is placed through a series of tests of his own as he tries to rescue Detective Matthews, who is still alive. THE GOOD: Again, a great twist ending. And a different kind of twist. Finding out the beginning of the movie is really the end of the movie, and that the majority of the movie takes place simultaneously with the 3rd installment, was mind blowing. THE BAD: One murder committed by Agent Strahm at the end was just a horrific copout way to get rid of a certain character so the writers wouldn’t have to think up the game for him that was set up in the prior film. THE UGLY: Okay, again, maybe I’m just being a biased Donnie Wahlberg fan, but the death of Eric Matthews still bothers me. After all he went through, the fact that as far as we know he never found out his son was still alive, and that the writers made Eric beyond pathetic in this film, and then subjected him to the most gruesome, unnecessary death in the entire franchise.. well, it just makes me want to stop the film before the last 15 minutes whenever I watch it.
- Saw V: Hoffman has been revealed to the audience as the new Jigsaw apprentice. Special Agent Strahm is hot on his trail trying to expose him. While we learn the history of how Hoffman became involved with Jigsaw, a new game of five players willing to fight to the death takes place. THE GOOD: I totally bought the reasoning/ backstory they came up with for Hoffman to be involved in the Jigsaw games. It makes more sense than him being another psycho disciple like Amanda Young. THE BAD: THE Fatal Five. Their characters were underdeveloped, and it was impossible to root for any of them to live. THE UGLY: Strahm’s death. It was way too gross to watch. I can’t imagine a worse way to die. But it’s okay, because by the end of this movie he was so annoying that I was ready for him to be gone, no matter how it happened. He should have just listened to the tape that pretty much told him to leave well enough alone and move on to another case.
- Saw III: Eric has gone missing after fighting with Jigsaw in Saw II, and while the detectives search for him, Jigsaw and Amanda are playing a new game: Jeff Reinhart, estranged from his wife and grieving the loss of his son, is placed through tests of forgiveness for those that contributed to the death of his son and the killer getting away with it. Meanwhile, another doctor (Lynn Denlon) from Dr. Gordon’s hospital has gone missing and is part of Jeff’s game; she must keep Jigsaw alive until Jeff finishes his game. THE GOOD: The loving relationship between John and Amanda is one of best points of this movie; rarely do you see such emotion and people caring about each other so much in a horror film. THE BAD: Parts of this installment drag: a lot. The Jeff character is often boring, and you can just tell that in the end he will never learn to forgive. THE UGLY: The Rack Trap, one of the sickest traps Jigsaw has ever come up with. Just the idea of body parts twisting like that is enough to make one’s bones hurt.
- Saw VII/ Saw 3D: I may be influenced here by the fact that this one is the last Saw movie, so for that reason alone, it’s my least favorite; because I wasn’t ready to see my beloved franchise end quite yet. This film was all about Hoffman tying up loose ends, getting himself out of the world that Jigsaw brought him into, and seeking revenge on Jill for trying to kill him at the end of Saw VI . Hoffman’s final game revolves around a man (Bobby) who lied, pretending to be a Jigsaw victim, and gained fame because of it. Bobby and all the people who helped him in this lie are placed through traps for what they did. THE GOOD: Having Dr. Gordon back after all those years. One could not possibly ask for a better way to end the franchise than with such a familiar face. THE BAD: Some of the story/plot was really, really dumb for such a smart, thoughtful series. The way Gibson died; the fact that Bobby’s wife (who was the only one who DIDN’T know that he had lied) died—there were a lot of things that didn’t add up or just felt wrong. THE UGLY: There is no ugly. Nothing matters considering that the ending to this film, and to the franchise, was done so perfectly and so amazingly that I didn’t even remember what I didn’t like about it. That ending made up for everything I didn’t like, and amplified what I did like.