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‘Spiral’: All 9 ‘Saw’ Movies Ranked From Worst to Best!

by Jonathan Sim about a year ago in movie review
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I want to play a game.

Hello. I want to play a game. There are nine Saw movies in front of you. The newest one is Spiral: From the Book of Saw, which has just landed in theaters. Are you going to watch the film without any context or are you going to suffer through the endless Saw sequels first?

You can click here to read a spoiler-free review of Spiral if you’ve seen none or if you have seen the films of this long-running series, you can stay here and read my spoiler-filled ranking of all nine films. Stay or go. The choice is yours.

9. Saw 3D (2010)

Easily the worst film in the franchise, Saw 3D officially jumps the gun with a story nothing short of horrendous. The idea of a fraudster who claimed to be part of Jigsaw’s traps who finds himself in the middle of the traps isn’t good, but it’s made even worse when the film becomes so repetitive in its structure.

Furthermore, the blood looks very fake given that the film was made for 3D. None of the gore is convincing and there are laugh-out-loud moments in the film’s opening trap and throughout the film. And the final twist of the movie feels like an insult to the entire series.

8. Saw V (2008)

Out of every film in the Saw franchise, this one may be the most boring. We have an escape room subplot and a detective subplot and neither of them is interesting. The escape room storyline has five people who are connected to an event in the past that we don’t even get to see.

The cat-and-mouse game between Hoffman and Strahm could have been compelling, but instead, it’s just a series of dull scenes and the film is so weighed down by its exposition and the need to explain the twist of Saw IV that it just becomes tedious.

7. Saw IV (2007)

After Saw III wrote itself into a hole with the death of John Kramer, you can tell that this was the beginning of many sequels where the writers were scrambling to find ways to keep Jigsaw alive. This film takes place during the events of Saw III, which could be interesting, but it follows Officer Rigg, one of the most boring protagonists in a Saw film.

The script is so unfocused and badly written to the point where we have an absurd amount of bland storylines happening at the same time. None of them are exciting, nor do they have any interesting characters. And the final twist where Hoffman is revealed to be the killer is just a copy-and-paste of the Saw II twist, only not as effective.

6. Jigsaw (2017)

Jigsaw isn’t a terrible film per sé, but it offers nothing that the Saw franchise hadn’t done before. The Spierig Brothers brought their own directorial style to the film, making this perhaps the most cinematic and well-shot film up to that point.

But once again, the characters are boring, it’s hard to be invested in the police investigation storyline, and the twist of the film, yet again, feels like a rehash of the Saw II twist of the nonlinear structure, but it feels a bit implausible given the timeline of the Saw films. The traps are so modern and large-scale that it’s easy to miss the grounded nature of the original film.

5. Saw III (2006)

This is perhaps the most frustrating Saw film because of how badly it wastes the premise. We have Amanda and John Kramer in this film working together, but they barely do anything, spending the entire film in one room. The other storyline involves a father who lost his son to a drunk driver and seeks vengeance.

I love the idea of that storyline, and it contains all the seeds it needs to grow into something great, but instead of being a terrifying look at what vengeance can do to a person, Saw III instead opts for endless scenes of blood and gore, complete with unnecessary close-ups of blood that ultimately just feels gross.

Because it’s the goriest film in the series, watching Saw III can feel like an endurance test of how long you can go before shutting it off and vomiting.

4. Saw VI (2009)

Before this film, every Saw movie was worse than its predecessor. This sequel was a minor step up over its predecessors since it actually gave the audience an emotion to assign towards the protagonist, a man who doesn’t see the value of human life until he goes through Jigsaw’s game.

The traps are more fun this time around, the healthcare subplot is unique, and the scenes with Hoffman actually allow for some great tension. But ultimately, having Erickson die despite learning his lesson wasn’t the best choice, and while some like the shotgun carousel trap, I found it to be too over-the-top for a series that began with two guys in a bathroom.

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

You wouldn’t expect comedian Chris Rock to make a Saw film, but he did with Spiral, a reboot that takes place within the world of the franchise. It is about a copycat killer targeting cops, and it was surprisingly watchable despite the typical moments of gore we’ve come to expect from the franchise.

Rock and Samuel L. Jackson are giving great performances, but the issue here is that the twist is a bit predictable and the killer is nowhere near as scary as John Kramer was. There are tonal issues with the characters endlessly yelling and other scenes where Rock seems to be workshopping his stand-up material in a restrained way.

But the ending generally works, and it’s one of the better Saw films.

2. Saw II (2005)

This was a sweet spot for the Saw franchise. John Kramer is front and center in this movie giving off a chilling presence with every scene he’s in. There’s blood in this film but it hadn’t gone to full-blown torture porn territory the way later films did.

It’s a fascinating film where the escape room subplot and the police subplot are connected through Matthews’s character. He has a personal stake in Jigsaw’s game, and the final twist where we discover the film is nonlinear was a huge surprise, as well as the Amanda reveal.

Honestly, this is one of the smartest films in the series.

1. Saw (2004)

My favorite film in the Saw franchise is the original film. There are times where you can tell it was a very low-budget production, but James Wan pulled off a lot with the budget, making effective use of the nonlinear structure and the very premise of the film leads to amazing psychological horror.

Parts of the film can even be off-putting as we’re thrown into this insane situation with these men. It’s not an overly ambitious film; it’s just a damn good horror movie with a haunting ending that nobody saw coming. Despite the increased budget and blood of the sequels, none of them have topped this iconic horror film.

And that’s my ranking!

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About the author

Jonathan Sim

Film critic. Lover of Pixar, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Back to the Future, and Lord of the Rings.

For business inquiries: [email protected]

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