The Saw movies have taken the horror world by storm. Ever since the franchise's first installment in 2004, there's been a fascination with finding out what the killer John “Jigsaw” Kramer has in store for us next.
In the films, Jigsaw traps his sinful victims in life-threatening situations that he calls “tests” or “games” to see if they have the will to survive through physical or psychological torture. He believes that if they live through the ordeal, they will be “rehabilitated.” It's a fascinating concept.
There have now been nine movies in total, and there's a tenth installment on the way. In this piece, we'll rank them all and inform you which order to watch them in.
Not Yet Ranked: Saw X (2023, directed by Kevin Greutert)
The tenth Saw movie – called Saw X, as far as we know – will hit theaters worldwide on October 27, 2023. It is currently unknown when it will take place or what the plot will entail, but we know that Tobin Bell is returning to play Jigsaw, and Shawnee Smith will reprise her role as Amanda Young.
The supporting cast will include Synnøve Macody Lund, Steven Brand, Michael Beach, Renata Vaca, Paulette Hernandez, Joshua Okamoto, and Octavio Hinojosa.
Nobody knows how good it will be, but we have high hopes. Now it's time to move on to ranking the existing nine films, from worst to best.
1. Saw 3D (2010, directed by Kevin Greutert)
Saw 3D is a 3D movie, the sequel to 2009's Saw VI and the seventh installment in the Saw franchise. In this one, a man who became a local celebrity after lying about surviving one of Jigsaw's games finds himself part of a real game where he must save his wife. At the same time, Jigsaw's ex-wife tells Internal Affairs that a rogue detective is responsible for the recent Jigsaw killings.
It's a terrible movie filmed messily, poorly acted, and has the franchise's most incoherent plot and hammy dialogue. The 3D scenes are completely amateur-looking as well. The traps, however, are as inventive as ever, meaning hardcore fans will be somewhat satisfied at least.
2. Saw V (2008, directed by David Hackl)
Saw V is the sequel to 2007's Saw IV and the fifth installment in the Saw franchise. This movie follows an FBI agent investigating the Jigsaw killings and discovering they're part of a larger plot. Meanwhile, Jigsaw's accomplice in the police, Detective Hoffman, gets tasked with leading the investigation into the case, throwing a spanner in the works.
At this point, the franchise felt like it was running on empty. The deathly traps remain creative and intriguing, the cinematography is good, and it has one of the more straightforward plots to follow. Still, the poor acting and lack of scenes involving the Jigsaw character means it's sorely lacking overall.
3. Saw IV (2007, directed by Darren Lynn Bousman)
Saw IV is the sequel to 2006's Saw III and the fourth installment in the Saw franchise. After Jigsaw died in the previous movie, this one reveals he left behind recordings and clues that direct investigators to his final game. The investigators get drawn into a tangled scenario that exposes the killer's true motives.
This one offers barely anything new and tries too hard to shock, resulting in violence and gore that's borderline pornographic. In attempting to be edgy, it sometimes comes across as almost corny. That said, it comes up with a creative way to continue Jigsaw's legacy, and it does succeed in being disturbing at times, which is what horror movies set out to do.
4. Saw III (2006, directed by Darren Lynn Bousman)
Saw III is the sequel to 2005's Saw II and the third installment in the Saw franchise. The film sees the dying Jigsaw putting a man whose son died at the hands of a drunk driver through a series of tests based on his ability to forgive. Meanwhile, a doctor kidnapped by Jigsaw's apprentice gets tasked with keeping the killer alive long enough for the man to complete his game.
Of the poorer Saw movies, Saw III contains the best acting. However, it does little more than rehash what the previous two films did in an even gorier way. There are too many flashbacks, which interrupt the flow of the movie to the point of being incredibly jarring. That said, Jigsaw is at his devilish best, and the surgical efforts to keep him alive are as harrowing as some of his traps.
5. Jigsaw (2017, directed by the Spierig Brothers)
Jigsaw is the eighth installment in the Saw franchise and a standalone sequel to the previous seven movies. In the film, Jigsaw has been dead for more than ten years, but dead bodies keep turning up in a manner that reflects his grisly modus operandi. The investigation points to the infamous killer, but clearly, there's more to it than that.
It lacks the feel of the other movies and has the least scares in the franchise, but Jigsaw is unique as a Saw sequel in that you don't need to watch any other films to understand it. It does have some suspenseful moments and plenty of the franchise's trademark gore to satisfy horror hounds. Overall, it's a fun ride with plenty of mystery and a decent twist.
6. Saw II (2005, directed by Darren Lynn Bousman)
Saw II is the sequel to 2004's Saw and the second installment in the Saw franchise. This one sees Jigsaw trapping a group of eight ex-convicts in a derelict house and forcing them to participate in a series of deadly tests that will give them access to the antidote for a nerve agent that will kill them in two hours.
It ups the ante from the first movie with heavier gore, more victims and kills, and clever traps. Saw II is also far more stylish in its execution than its predecessor. Despite that, it loses the novelty Saw offered and should try harder to impress, as it fails to serve any genuine scares. It also has some of the most annoying characters in horror movie history.
7. Spiral (2021, directed by Darren Lynn Bousman)
Spiral is a spin-off from the Saw movies and the ninth installment in the franchise. It chronicles the efforts of the police to stop a Jigsaw copycat killer.
In this one, some real star power gets added to the Saw franchise, with Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, and Max Minghella in crucial roles. Spiral takes the series in an interesting new direction but is a little disappointing considering its cast.
The film has some great twists and turns, and the A-listers' characters are interesting, but it lacks any tension and still feels quite formulaic.
8. Saw VI (2009, directed by Kevin Greutert)
Saw VI is the sequel to 2008's Saw V and the sixth installment in the Saw franchise. Detective Hoffman continues as the deceased Jigsaw's successor in this one, putting an insurance executive through hell to rescue his employees. Hoffman also attempts to protect his secret identity as his attempts to frame an FBI agent fail.
This movie dragged the ailing franchise up a notch when it seemed to be fading out. It's far from a classic, but it's clever with its satire, gets its moral message over more clearly than the other movies in the franchise, and the plot twist is one of the series' more coherent. Saw VI does, however, showcase some of the more lackluster acting performances in any Saw installments at times.
9. Saw (2004, directed by James Wan)
Saw is the opening installment in the eponymous franchise. Although it follows a nonlinear narrative, introducing audiences to the mystery of the Jigsaw killer, the movie's frame story focuses on a pair of his victims who awaken in a sizeable underground bathroom in a state of disrepair, with one instructed to murder the other to save his family.
As is often the case, the first movie in the Saw franchise is by far the best. It's a hugely original film with some genuinely brilliant set pieces, tension and suspense you could cut with a hacksaw, and a seriously creative twist. It also boasts the star power of Cary Elwes and Danny Glover, both of whom give excellent performances as Dr. Lawrence Gordon, one of Jigsaw's victims, and Detective David Tapp, a police officer obsessed with the Jigsaw case, respectively.
In Chronological Order
As a bonus, to finish, we've put the movies in chronological order for you. Conveniently, the chronological order thus far is the same as their release dates. Should you wish to watch them in the order in which their events occur in-universe, this is how you should do it.
- Saw (2004)
- Saw II (2005)
- Saw III (2006)
- Saw IV (2007)
- Saw V (2008)
- Saw VI (2009)
- Saw 3D (2010)
- Jigsaw (2017)
- Spiral (2021)
Saw X (2023) – the tentative title – is the movie that could throw a spanner in the works regarding that order. Spiral director Darren Lynn Bousman has stated, “Just because we made Spiral doesn't mean Saw ceases to exist. Just because Spiral is here, that doesn't mean there won't be a Saw IX. This is not the ninth film in the Saw franchise. There easily could be a Saw IX that follows Jigsaw.”
We eagerly wait to find out.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.