Best Saw Films Ranked

Saw Films
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Introduction – Saw

Whether you love gore-fests or psychological horrors, most horror fans can agree that the Saw franchise is one of the greats. With the recent reprisal of the franchise due to the release of Saw X, there’s no better time to go back and rank its predecessors. Very few other horrors have the same scare factor as these films. Though the effects may not always be realistic, John Kramer’s nightmare traps more often than not can hit a little too close to home. In this movies list, we rank the best Saw films to date!

History – Saw

Following the release of Saw (2004), a new genre of horror film gained popularity like never before. Mainstream audiences everywhere were shocked by the blatant violence and gore shown on screen. As the franchise continued to develop, fans would return again and again to witness the disturbingly creative character of John Kramer. Though the franchise originally ‘ended’ with Saw 3D (2010), a revival was attempted both with Jigsaw (2017) and Spiral (2021). These additions, however, received overwhelmingly negative feedback, and it seemed as though the true essence of the original films was lost. Surprisingly, the franchise sprung back last year with Saw X (2023), bringing together old fans and new.

10. Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021)

Unfortunately, Spiral (2021) ranks right at the bottom of the list. For me, this was purely an attempt to cash in on the success of the franchise without any of the charm of previous instalments. Characters in this film were unlikeable enough to not care what happens to them, but not so unlikeable that you rooted for the Jigsaw copycat. The plot twist in this one just didn’t land as well as it did in the original franchise. Overall, Spiral just didn’t have the stakes a film ‘from the book of Saw‘ needs, and this is ultimately why it failed.

9. Jigsaw (2017)

Though not as bad as Spiral (2021), Jigsaw was still something of a poor attempt at reviving the franchise. The addition of Kramer into this film returned some of its original charm. However, this was ultimately not enough to save it. The traps in this one are somewhat new and inventive. But it still lacked the kind of plot twist that the franchise was so infamous for. It felt formulaic in the same way as Spiral, in that it was more of an attempt to cash in the success of the other films, rather than being made out of genuine love and appreciation.

8. Saw 3D (2010)

With this being the last addition of the original franchise, Saw 3D (2010) was good, but not great. It was clear the budget for this film was higher than previous films, however I don’t think this was used particularly wisely. The practical effects were less than sub-par, with the gore looking fake and unsatisfying. Despite this, I feel that this was a great way to wrap up the franchise, with the stories of many popular characters coming to a close. In my opinion, Saw 3D was the right film to end the franchise, and anything past this only pushed it further from the original material.

7. Saw VI (2009)

Despite its position on this list, Saw VI (2009) is one of the best. It has some of my favourite traps, like the Carousel and Pound of Flesh. The character of William Easton is well-crafted and so interesting to follow. I think the moral questions posed by this instalment create an amazingly tense atmosphere, as well as others characters in the story. You feel truly torn about who to root for, as an audience, which I think is such a key element of any psychological thriller. The reason it isn’t higher on the list is simply because the others following it are just as good, showing how great the rest of this franchise truly is.

6. Saw IV (2007)

Saw IV (2007) provides new backstory on John Kramer, helping to further ongoing plot lines. The decision to continue with Kramer’s story even after his canonical death was a smart move. It gives the audience insight into his life leading up becoming ‘Jigsaw’, and his motivations. This is one of the many aspects of the franchise I think kept people coming back to it. Detective Rigg is also a great character, and the introduction of the police and special units comes in at a great time. You feel a lot of sympathy for Rigg, yet you understand the doomed path he is going down, making for an amazingly tense atmosphere to whole way through.

5. Saw X (2023)

Now Saw X (2023) showed us how to do a revival right. Unlike its counterparts, Jigsaw (2017) and Spiral (2021), Saw X had all the elements that were lacking in previous instalments. A prequel was the perfect way to bring back beloved characters like Kramer, Amanda and Hoffman, without creating some convoluted plot. This film’s place in the Saw timeline allows for more of a look at Kramer’s early traps and ideas. This was a surprisingly emotional film, showing an incredibly vulnerable Kramer. There were times I wasn’t sure how things were going to end, which felt very exciting as a long time fan.

4. Saw (2004)

The classic. Where it all began. Saw (2004) has an undeniably iconic plot twist that continues to take new viewers by surprise, even today. This is the sort of film you wish you could experience again for the first time. The gore isn’t overwhelming, just enough to be perfectly sickening. The characters are immoral, but have these realistic qualities to them that makes you sympathise with the situation they’ve been put in. The setting for this one (the bathroom) was just so perfect, and really captured all the elements that would go on to make the rest of the franchise what it is.

3. Saw II (2005)

The second Saw film is one of the most immersive and tense of the whole franchise. Following on from he success of the first film, Saw II (2005) picks up exactly where Saw (2004) left off. The presence of Eric’s son adds such a sense of uncertainty and necessity to the whole film that just amps up the stakes, and the pacing. Despite this, the film still moves along perfectly, and doesn’t rush to cover all that it needs to. The needle pit trap is absolutely sickening, especially when you consider Amanda’s backstory. And the twist in this one is also perfectly crafted. I think many audiences were left shocked that they could replicate the genuine surprise and reveal of the first plot twist, without it feeling repetitive.

2. Saw III (2006)

Saw III (2006) is on par with Saw II (2005) in terms of its traps and twist. But the character and overall plot development in this one is truly something else. You feel that you have no idea whether Kramer will really die or not until it actually happens, and even then there’s some doubts. This shows just how well developed of a character Kramer has become in less than three films. The tension in this one is like never before, and no character is safe, as we come to learn through the rest of the franchise. The way plot lines interconnect in this film is something the audience would never see coming, and it truly keeps you on your toes the whole time. Saw III really builds upon the layers that make the franchise so great.

1. Saw V (2008)

In my opinion, Saw V (2008) is the best of the whole franchise. For me, this is because of the cat and mouse chase between Detectives Hoffman and Strahm. At this point, we know Hoffman is the bad guy, and we know he’s trying to hide it. Strahm sort of knows this too, but has a hard time proving it. Watching him jump through hoops to catch Hoffman is so entertaining, because you want Strahm to succeed, but you also don’t really want Hoffman to be caught. Hoffman is at his prime in this film, and I think he makes the perfect ‘Jigsaw’ apprentice and heir, with his unwinnable traps and plans for revenge. The water cube trap is one of my favourites, and Strahm’s ability to escape this trap is enthralling to watch. Overall, for me, Saw V has the best traps, and the best plotline.