The Saw franchise’s newest movie jolted life back into the almost two-decade-old franchise. However, to true Saw fans, the film fell flat.
For the first time in six years, we saw John Kramer in his prime with all the guts and gore, proving that the not-so-satisfying 2021 spin-off wasn’t the end of the Jigsaw we know and love. Yet while Kramer was at his peak, the film didn’t follow the recipe to success that previous Saw films stuck to.
Set between Saw and Saw II, the audience got a deeper look into Kramer before all hell broke loose. After receiving news that he has months to live, Kramer, in a bid to fight off cancer one last time, travels to see Dr. Cecilia Pederson for experimental treatment and undergoes successful surgery — or so he thinks.
Pederson and her colleagues are frauds stealing thousands of dollars from patients worldwide. This time, she chose the wrong patient to prey on.
In the first part of the movie, it seems almost as though Kramer has changed. His life is ‘saved’ and he appears to turn away from his traps, even going so far as to throw away a design. But as soon as he realizes that his treatment was fake, he turns back to the Jigsaw we’ve seen many times before.
Kramer isn’t the only iconic Saw character to make a return — Amanda Young makes a comeback with more compassion than the last time we saw her alive.
The two are in prime form with well-thought-out traps. However, these traps are extreme and feel virtually impossible compared to those in previous films. Some include SAWing (pun intended) through an entire femur and sucking out bone marrow, and another brain surgery by a pretend brain surgeon to remove matter, both in three minutes. Kramer even goes against his most important rule — he kills without giving an opportunity for the victim to save themself. While this film is earlier on in the timeline, he is still very set in his ways, and breaking this rule feels like an inaccurate depiction of Kramer.
Another crucial part of the Saw franchise the movie lacks are the flashbacks. While there are some tossed throughout, the film lacks this key aspect that clues the audience into the effort and knowledge behind the traps and twists. Losing this feels as though the ending is rushed and incomplete.
While we don’t see the typical puzzle pieces, both literally and figuratively, that create Saw films, we are able to see Kramer and Amanda come back to ‘save the day’ in typical Jigsaw style – even with a little more humanity than we often see. We all knew Kramer had a sweet side somewhere, and in Saw X, we finally see it.
Another plus about the 10th film was that the audience is able to see more of Amanda’s apprenticeship. However, the film once again doesn’t align with previous ones in that Kramer is extremely lenient with Amanda’s empathetic side and lets things slide that he usually wouldn’t.
For spooky season, this film fits the typical scary movie mold perfectly — it has blood, jumpscares and death — but for a Saw film, it was insufficient. We lose key Saw elements — the makers leave behind the hard rules that were set up in previous films and the timeline as a whole just doesn’t add up.
The ending leaves the creators open to the opportunity of a sequel to this story. However, because they decided to plant it in between two other films, the creators have limited themselves with time and narratives. Realistically, it is difficult to see how they could successfully continue with this story without digging themselves into a deep hole. The 10th edition of this franchise is a great way to get into the movies or skip around the timeline, but for true fans, it is a disappointment. It has the flair of a Saw movie but lacks the deeper meanings and symbols of Jigsaw’s whole existence.