Saw X marks the tenth installment in a franchise that had very modest beginnings. It all started with two men in a room, directed by James Wan, who ended up revolutionizing an entire genre. Suddenly, it became acceptable to be a fan of the most gruesome gore, and ‘torture porn’ became a trend in its own right.
Being a fan of Saw, or its older, more dramatic counterpart, Final Destination, is perfectly fine. However, what’s not acceptable is compromising your self-respect when it comes to choosing the new movies you watch.
There’s no justification for a film in a ten-movie franchise to be this dull and poorly made. While watching all the Saw movies in order has its moments, this one falls disappointingly short, even by Billy the Puppet’s standards.
In Saw X, we follow John Kramer, also known as Jigsaw, as he journeys to Mexico in search of a seemingly miraculous cancer treatment from a too-good-to-be-true medical practitioner. Unfortunately, it is indeed too good to be true. He ends up swindled out of money, stranded in Mexico (which is strangely over-saturated with the golden ‘Mexican filter’ color grade), and still plagued by a tumor in his brain. Naturally, if there’s one person you shouldn’t swindle, it’s the man who’ll end your life and then demand gratitude for it.
Yet, John Kramer doesn’t truly kill people, at least according to his own beliefs. But his belief system is almost as puzzling as every single decision made by the characters in this movie. Saw X reaches a point of embarrassing illogicality, confusing its audience with inconsistencies and a lack of coherence, while also forcing painfully obvious information down their throats. Want a flashback to a scene that happened just thirty seconds ago? Well, you’ll get plenty of those!
Let’s get to the point: the traps (the main attraction) are entertaining. However, Saw X peaks in the first five minutes with the ‘Eyeball Vacuum Trap’. It embodies the quintessential Saw style in both the frantic camera work and the purpose of the trap, but it almost outshines the later methods of torture, which feel somewhat inconsequential as a result. It’s a fleeting, glorious moment of classic Saw, over too soon.
Frankly, it feels like there’s not enough of the thing that drives this entire franchise: the ‘Saw-ing’. Watching John Kramer lament his illness is all well and good, but we’ll never cheer for the modern-day equivalent of H. H. Holmes, nor for his victims who turn into antagonists.
Tobin Bell does a decent job leading the movie as John Kramer, reprising the role he’s played for two decades now. However, it’s difficult to muster enough care for anyone on screen to either support or oppose them.
Most of the traps in Saw X are mediocre at best, but things take a jarring turn when an unexpected victim gets entangled in one of Jigsaw’s torture devices during the climax. This is when the previously laughing and heckling audience fell silent, and there was a brief moment of uncertainty about where it was all heading. It’s one thing to be amusingly bad, but quite another to be uncomfortably bad.
Saw fans will likely get their fill from this movie, but they should expect more from the tenth instalment. More creativity, more homage to the visual style that initially made this series popular, and overall higher quality.
The Saw franchise isn’t renowned for producing cinematic masterpieces, but the unfortunate truth is that Saw X falls short in terms of competent dialogue, logic, or humour. In that regard, the Saw movies never quite found their footing, and at this late stage, there’s no excuse for that.
Saw X is set to hit theatres on Friday, September 29, 2023.”\