How Good Are the Saw Movies When a Saw Is Actually Involved?

We did some research to find out exactly how much sawing actually happens in the Saw franchise.

by | October 27, 2017 | Comments

(Photo by Lionsgate)

When Saw burst onto the scene in 2004, it introduced audiences to a monologuing killer named Jigsaw who enjoyed games, puppets on tricycles, and puzzle pieces made of skin. James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s (Insidious) $1.5 million budgeted film became an instant success, and it developed into an incredibly complicated franchise (the timeline is bonkers) that featured nonlinear timelines, bloody traps, and one crucial hacksaw.

What sets the Saw franchise apart from other horror mainstays is that it has the lowest Tomatometer average of any franchise with at least seven theatrically released entries. Its 26% Tomatometer average beats out other franchises like Friday the 13th (29.41%), Halloween (33.7%), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (54.5%) for the bottom spot. That said, the series has pulled in a massive $500 million domestically, and the average audience score sits at 60%, which puts it ahead of all the aforementioned major franchises and gives it the fourth highest audience score average behind the Evil Dead (80.75%), Hannibal Lecter (80%), and Night of the Living Dead (79.1%) franchises.

That may all change this weekend, though, because there’s a new Saw film opening, and it’s directed by Michael and Peter Spierig, the brotherly duo behind Predestination and Daybreakers. What sticks out in the trailer for Jigsaw is the amount of carnage actually related to saws, which looks like it’s been cranked up to 11, because the franchise in general hasn’t actually featured a lot of, well, sawing. In fact, after the first film, saws played a largely ancillary role in the series.

Nevertheless, we did a little research, and it turns out the style and amount of saw action can actually factor into how good a Saw movie might be. Here’s what we found:

Saw Films in Which Something Is Sawed Off Completely

(Photo by Lionsgate)

Tomatometer Average: 48%
Audience Score Average: 84%

Only the first Saw film features a body part being completely severed. A little odd for a series titled Saw that features 52 deaths, to be sure, but it’s probably fair to say there was no topping that first dismemberment, as far as narrative impact. The scene is arguably the high point of the series, and it serves as a reminder of the patience and planning that director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell dedicated to the film. What sets Saw apart from the six sequels that followed is that Wan and Whannell, who didn’t direct any of the follow-ups, thought they were making a thriller in the vein of Seven. For better or worse, the marketing department latched onto the iconic torture element, and the rest is history.

Saw Films with Sawing/Sawing Attempts That Don’t Result in Death

Tomatometer Average:  32.3%
Audience Score Average: 64.6%

Saw, Saw V, and Saw VI feature instances of people surviving ordeals with saws. Saw (48%) and Saw VI (37%) also happen to have the highest Tomatometer scores of the series, while Saw VI is a weird outlier, because its 38% score isn’t actually that bad, compared to its peers. Sixth installments rarely do very well with critics, and as far as the horror genre is concerned, only 1986’s Jason Lives (52%) and 2013’s Curse of Chucky (82%) can boast better scores.

Saw Films Featuring the Hacksaw from the First Film

Tomatometer Average : 30.25%
Audience Score Average: 64%

The hacksaw from the first film gets a lot of mileage in the series. It pops up in Saw, Saw II, Saw III, and Saw 3D. Throughout the four films, it was used to saw off a foot, slit a throat, and be reunited with the guy who used the saw to cut off his own foot. The saw is proof of the series’ ability to intertwine its narrative and tie everything together via a very intricate timeline.

Saw Films in Which a Saw Kills Somebody

Tomatometer Average: 24.3%
Audience Score Average: 50.5%

Saws are surprisingly non-lethal in the Saw films. In fact, only three people are actually killed by saws.

  1. Xavier – Saw II – Throat cut by hacksaw from the first film
  2. Jigsaw – Saw III – Throat slit by a power saw
  3. Dina – Saw 3D – Gutted by a buzzsaw in 3D

There is some humor and poetry in Jigsaw’s death, but it arguably would have packed a bigger punch if it had come by way of one of his own traps.

Saw Films in Which a Saw Is Used on Jigsaw

Tomatometer Average: 22.5%
Audience Score Average: 64%

John Kramer, a.k.a. Jigsaw, was the glue that held the films together, and after his aforementioned murder (by saw) in the third installment, the audience was greeted by his autopsy in the early scenes of Saw IV. Sure, he’s already dead in the latter instance, but did the coroners use a saw on him? They sure did.

The Saw franchise is a perhaps surprisingly successful example of the prototypical contemporary horror franchise. Critics have hated it while audiences consider it Fresh, and the films have made an insane amount of money on tiny budgets.

Throughout it all, though, the presence of its titular weapon ties everything together rather nicely. The same hacksaw bookends the first seven installments, and if John Kramer were still around, he’d surely be pleased by the longevity of his purchase. We’ll just have to wait and see if it makes an appearance in Jigsaw.

Tag Cloud

Certified Fresh Showtime ITV Endgame Captain marvel Apple TV+ sitcom sequels Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Arrowverse concert Martial Arts movies Rom-Com Stephen King dogs stoner 20th Century Fox PBS American Society of Cinematographers franchise Britbox emmy awards ghosts Pop Drama Extras The CW Photos Masterpiece films reboot Acorn TV Superheroe war kids Film Festival Best and Worst stop motion zombie Paramount Academy Awards crime drama casting period drama TLC Discovery Channel Creative Arts Emmys mission: impossible cancelled TV series IFC Films cartoon TV renewals Comic Book TCA Winter 2020 PlayStation mutant 21st Century Fox crossover screen actors guild tv talk Pride Month History YouTube critics VICE Kids & Family SundanceTV Super Bowl Sundance Now Hallmark Christmas movies President Comedy Central worst a nightmare on elm street The Witch El Rey The Arrangement Trivia NBC ABC Quiz Character Guide AMC justice league Mudbound spinoff classics 2016 directors Reality revenge independent FX on Hulu DGA Cosplay game of thrones festivals rotten movies we love cooking south america toy story crime thriller werewolf scary movies all-time Musicals Toys green book Valentine's Day animated Netflix television witnail canceled Ovation Netflix Christmas movies Red Carpet latino Marvel Winners MTV social media GIFs asian-american 4/20 The Walking Dead OneApp singing competition hollywood based on movie Esquire nature unscripted ratings sag awards BBC America Hulu Mindy Kaling Christmas Holidays Adult Swim transformers TV vampires Marvel Studios discovery Awards Tour Fantasy TNT Tarantino comic stand-up comedy Black History Month Infographic Teen docudrama hispanic Ghostbusters 72 Emmy Awards serial killer Comedy anthology Action batman The Purge Awards adaptation breaking bad romance Tumblr Ellie Kemper CMT romantic comedy Television Critics Association comiccon cults Set visit SXSW 2015 video on demand Trophy Talk Black Mirror 2020 Tomatazos children's TV 2018 Freeform blaxploitation VOD cancelled universal monsters HBO Go Amazon miniseries talk show Pixar ESPN Sundance TV Marvel Television DC streaming service parents finale indiana jones Starz Food Network psycho halloween spanish language SDCC Sci-Fi San Diego Comic-Con ABC Family Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comics Spike fast and furious Box Office Star Trek Apple TV Plus CBS All Access biography boxoffice theme song BAFTA obituary IFC Hear Us Out Star Wars quibi cars Fall TV nbcuniversal Rock A24 WGN Mary Tyler Moore cinemax cops video comedies FOX jamie lee curtis golden globes Disney+ Disney Plus Family indie Universal Lionsgate Cannes TV Land Epix Emmys spy thriller elevated horror Pirates Television Academy supernatural X-Men Pop TV New York Comic Con Classic Film Polls and Games Year in Review dramedy Peacock Nat Geo WarnerMedia Brie Larson YouTube Premium Turner Classic Movies E3 Walt Disney Pictures CNN crime Pet Sematary MSNBC foreign cats Paramount Network renewed TV shows DC Universe YouTube Red dragons best GLAAD cancelled television Lucasfilm Calendar Hallmark Election movie Nominations anime TruTV Warner Bros. Interview MCU Amazon Prime Video Fox News TBS 71st Emmy Awards die hard BBC One cancelled TV shows harry potter Country Schedule Cartoon Network documentary psychological thriller TCA Lifetime Amazon Studios CW Seed Oscars Binge Guide what to watch HBO Max 007 RT History name the review Shudder politics First Look dark facebook teaser Dark Horse Comics series composers Rocky medical drama FXX Marathons Apple Disney streaming service TCA 2017 Musical Funimation Spring TV zero dark thirty Superheroes Baby Yoda A&E Shondaland Logo Winter TV Grammys USA Network disaster Comics on TV Sundance FX dceu Video Games Women's History Month chucky Reality Competition travel space political drama LGBT streaming reviews twilight Premiere Dates book LGBTQ laika Disney screenings Writers Guild of America Summer Watching Series CBS DC Comics NYCC Tubi Opinion game show award winner 2019 HBO adventure criterion satire 45 Rocketman Bravo zombies Vudu christmas movies National Geographic PaleyFest spider-man YA Music Podcast Syfy 2017 RT21 Trailer Columbia Pictures thriller BET Awards Disney Channel superhero Sony Pictures binge Crunchyroll Turner Amazon Prime historical drama science fiction BBC police drama news Lifetime Christmas movies dc Biopics TCA Awards richard e. Grant slashers sequel Nickelodeon OWN joker Disney Plus First Reviews mockumentary Film See It Skip It BET blockbuster documentaries Anna Paquin Elton John Chernobyl Heroines Horror DirecTV natural history Mary Poppins Returns canceled TV shows Western aliens Mystery Holiday child's play USA Spectrum Originals Travel Channel Sneak Peek robots sports TIFF Mary poppins TCM APB diversity true crime hist Thanksgiving free movies Countdown Avengers 24 frames Crackle Emmy Nominations technology VH1 doctor who E! Animation GoT Song of Ice and Fire rotten versus spain strong female leads