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Saw X – Film Review

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saw x film review
Saw X Film Review

It would be fair to say that the yearly releases in the Saw saga stagnated, to the point where not even Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson could save it. But now a new Saw film has arrived, the tenth one in fact. But this one is alright. Actually, it’s better than alright – it’s one of the best in the entire franchise.

Saw X doesn’t follow the events of all previous nine films – thankfully – but is set between the first and the second films. You know, the best ones when Jigsaw/John Kramer (Tobin Bell) himself is still alive and not just found in flashbacks. Jigsaw is rightly regarded as a horror icon, but so much of his story is told in flashbacks throughout the franchise, fans have never felt like they’d really gotten to know him.

Jigsaw is actually front and centre of this film. Not his victims or his proteges, but a story focussed around him. As fans that have subjected themselves to some of the worst films in the franchise will know, Jigsaw has terminal cancer. A chance encounter with a member of his cancer support meetings leads him to Mexico City where he meets a group who have been curing cancer with some not quite 100% legal treatments.

After his treatment and being told he is cancer-free, Jigsaw/John returns to the house he was staying with a present for those that helped him. However, when he returns, he finds the house abandoned and the nearby ‘surgery’ in a similar state. The final nail in the coffin is John finding a DVD case of a pre-recorded operation that he was led to believe was his own surgery. In a nonsensical reason that only makes sense in the world of Saw, John’s brain surgery had to be performed whilst he was awake and able to watch it live.

Only it wasn’t his. He still has cancer and is now substantially out of pocket as a result. It is time for some revenge, Jigsaw style.

Whilst Saw X is set between the first and second film, it spoils the twist ending of the second film for those that haven’t seen it by bringing in Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith) as Jigsaw’s apprentice in this film. She has helped round up the con artists into a traditionally rusting industrial room that retains the Saw colour pallet of the past films. The opening act of Saw X does away with the traditional aesthetic, but when it is brought back for the ‘games’, you know blood and gore isn’t far behind.

Another later twist is potentially spoiled in the post-credits but if you haven’t yet grasped that everyone who survives Jigsaw’s twisted games becomes a future apprentice, more fool you.

One-by-one the quacks are forced to play their game, but with the others all watching on this time. The first of these is perhaps the most uncomfortable I have ever felt watching a Saw film, though this could also be due to the fact I haven’t watched one for a few years. Either way, it makes the titular scene from the first film look like a hot knife through butter.

These traps are somewhat less inventive than later trials in the series, but no less uncomfortable. The twist here being that you are almost feeling compassionate towards Jigsaw for the very first time. His whole schtick of ‘he is only testing people not killing them’ has been bull poop since the very first film when Ken Leung walked under half a dozen firing shotguns. He is a terrible, terrible murderer. And yet Saw X does the unthinkable, it puts us on his side for once. This wonderful subversion from everything that has been before breathes new life that, much like its main antagonist, has been pretty much dead since the third film.

Despite this newfound heart and empathy – as opposed to just hearts and entrails – this is very much still a Saw film. There are the copious amounts of blood and gore, the all too coincidental twist ending, Billy the puppet and an unbelievably unapologetically obtuse formation of a plan involving a makeshift rope. Seriously, in a room with no rope, how they ended up with a ‘rope’ is peak Saw.

Despite all that, it will likely usher in a new future for the franchise. Saw X is easily the best in the series since the original, not that that is a high bar to beat. And, like it or not, it breathes new life into the franchise that is now approaching some twenty years old. Previous mistakes in the franchise have been righted by focussing on Jigsaw and it is surprising how much empathy is found in this latest instalment. That empathy still comes with all the blood and gore you would expect but Saw X feels much less like out and out torture porn and more like a solid horror film.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Shows a new side to Jigsaw
  • Retains the core Saw tropes
  • Surprisingly empathetic
Cons:
  • The 'rope' section
  • Twist ending is telegraphed
Info:
  • Purchased by TXH
  • Running time and release date - 1hr 58mins | 2023
Richard Dobson
Richard Dobson
Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Shows a new side to Jigsaw</li> <li>Retains the core Saw tropes</li> <li>Surprisingly empathetic</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>The 'rope' section</li> <li>Twist ending is telegraphed</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Purchased by TXH</li> <li>Running time and release date - 1hr 58mins | 2023 </ul>Saw X - Film Review
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