'Saw X' is released later this week and with it the grand return of Tobin Bell as John Kramer. It also marks the return of Shawnee Smith as Amanda and is to be set mere weeks after the original film. From the trailer it's clear to see that John isn't happy with the medical staff who supposedly couldn't cure his cancer and now he is out for revenge of sorts.
We thought it might be fun to count down our 10 Favourite Saw Traps/Kills from the entire franchise. We've decided not to put them in numerical order as it was just too difficult.
Public Execution - Saw 3D
'Saw 3D' opens with something we’ve never seen before in the franchise; Jigsaw going public. Up until this point, The Jigsaw Killer has been a legend in the news but 'Saw 3D' goes big and sets up a public execution as its opening trap. The trap involves 2 men and 1 woman, all connected by a love triangle. The game is either one man kills the other, or both men kill the girl, and they get to live. Of course, this is in full view of a terrified audience who can do nothing but watch it all unfold. The reason I enjoy this trap is because it’s a simple case of revenge. We’ve all hated an ex or the other person they’ve ended up with, so for Jigsaw (Hoffman) to showcase something so relatable to the public means that he might not be seen as a monster. Just a man dishing out justice to people who deserve it. It’s closer to Kramer’s rules compared to Amanda’s, Hoffman was John’s best student, he just flew too close to the sun and got caught.
The Needle Pit - Saw II
'Saw II' definitely ups the ante from the original film. More victims, more traps, more blood. The sequel is a lot of fun and has some brutal set pieces but the needle pit scene, for me, is some truly hard to watch horror. A lot of people have a fear of needles as it is, so having to watch someone get pushed into a pit against their will really creates a knot in your stomach as you could imagine it happening to you. The thought of digging through needles, each one dragging into your skin, creates a sickening base level reaction from me. The fun twist of the trap is that Amanda was the one who created it, then is forced to do it after being pushed in by Xavier. It’s a cool detail to pick up on when rewatching it and shows Amanda’s loyalty to John.
Knife Chair - Saw VI
This trap is one of John Kramer’s earliest creations. The victim is Cecil Adams, a drug addict who caused John’s wife to have a miscarriage after injuring her in a failed robbery. It’s always great when we get to see someone who has slighted John personally get their comeuppance. The trap itself is quite simple yet horrific; you’re trapped in a chair and you must push your face though a series of knifes to release yourself. Putting yourself though enormous amounts of pain to set yourself free is John’s usual M.O. but there’s definitely something more twisted having to disfigure your face to get free. Even if you lived, you’d have to look at a daily reminder of what you’d done.
The Bathroom - Saw
Sure it’s basic, but the idea of cutting off your own leg to escape captivity really captured the zeitgeist back in 2004. It's primal, relatable and completely encapsulates John’s whole life lesson “Will you lose a piece of yourself to live another day?” I think the trap also works because it’s introduced right at the start of the film and it looms over the characters for the whole film. We know and the characters know that it’s the only option to escape, but how long can the characters keep fooling themselves into thinking they’ll be saved by someone else. Cary Elwes' blood curdling screams as he saws though his leg make for a fantastic finale and a moment that cemented 'Saw' into horror history.
The Razor - Saw II
Another brutal trap from 'Saw II' but one that could have been solved without any injury. At this point in the film the characters have been told that they’ve been victim to nerve gas and if they don’t find an antidote, they’ll die. In the hanging box is two syringes, both filled with the antidote. To reach the syringes, you must put your arms through two entrance holes, each lined with razor blades that’ll cut your wrists to ribbon. You might get the antidote but you’ll probably die from the blood loss. The twisted part? You never have to put your hands in the box at all. On the other side of the box, you’d find the lock with the key already in it. Patience is the name of the game here, but unfortunately for the victim Addison, she was desperate and gave her life trying to save herself.
Pound of Flesh - Saw VI
Some of the best kills in the 'Saw' series are when two people are pitted against each other for their survival. In this case money lenders Eddie and Simone who have taken advantage of people by giving them high credit loans are given 60 seconds to cut off more flesh than the other or the device on their heads will drive a bolt into their temple. It is such a nasty scenario as Eddie throws himself straight into the task, cutting off chunks of his stomach while Simone struggles to cut through her arm. With time running out Simone goes for broke and cleaves through her arm winning the game at the cost of a limb. The sharp cuts between the damage Eddie is causing to himself and Simone chopping through her arm with a demented look in her eyes make for the most memorable kill in Part VI.
The Pendulum - Saw V
Taking inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe, the opening kill of 'Saw V' sees Seth Baxter, a convicted murderer who was freed on a technicality five years into his sentence, chained to a table. In the industrial dungeon he is given 60 seconds to place his hands in a vice which will crush them or the blade in the shape of a pendulum will slowly lower itself cutting him in half. Apart from the obvious iconography around the kill, it is the swooping sound of the pendulum as it swings back and forth that makes it nerve-racking to watch. Even when you think he has won by crushing his hands the blade continues splattering blood and guts across the wall slicing Seth in half making it one of the bloodiest kills in the series.
The Ice Block (AKA Ice Ice Donnie) - Saw IV
The final trap in the fourth entry in the series sees Detective Matthews and Hoffman set in an elaborate seesaw-like trap involving melting ice and electricity. Matthews is hanging by a chain around his neck on a block of ice on one side while Hoffman is strapped to the chair on the other. Once the ice melts Hoffman's side would weigh down causing him to be electrocuted. However in another twist the door to the room is rigged to a mechanical rig which would cause two blocks of ice to crash together making mince meat off Matthew's head. Sure enough this happens after a chain of frustrating events which sees "four" people die (wink, wink) when inaction could have saved them all. It is one of those traps where the result is viscerally impactful but it is the decisions leading up to it that makes it so memorable.
The Rack - Saw III
A medieval torture device for the modern age and a personal favourite of Jigsaw, The Rack is a device which places it's victim in a crucified pose with the victims arms, legs and head trapped waiting to be twisted around one by one. The victim in question is Timothy Young, whose drunk driving resulted in the death of Jeff Denlon's son Dylan. Now Jeff must choose to save Timothy or watch him die a slow and agonising death. Like so many of the traps in this film, their fate lies in Jeff's hands in terms of how willing he is to forgive them. And like so many of these incidents he leaves it too late as Timothy's limbs are twisted with the bones popping out of his skin like broken bamboo. It is definitely one that will have you wincing throughout.
The Glass Coffin - Saw V
The final kill in the fifth entry is a bit of a misdirection which is why it is so great. Agent Strahm in his pursuit of Detective Hoffman (believing he is behind the latest spate of Jigsaw killings) enters a room with metal plated walls with a glass coffin lined with broken glass in the middle. The tape recording in the room tells him he must enter the coffin to survive. He stops mid tape and after a scuffle with Hoffman, Hoffman is locked inside the coffin with the door locking behind him. The coffin is lowered into the ground and the walls close in around Strahm crushing him alive. What makes it so brilliant is how gleefully nasty it is. Strahm had a chance of surviving if he just got into the coffin but instead he literally rains down onto Hoffman who looks up with a smug sense of satisfaction. It's a great end to one of the better films in the series.
Well that's 10 of our favourite traps from the 'Saw' franchise and there's definitely a few other great kills we had to leave out. We're really looking forward to 'Saw X' to see what nasty shit Jigsaw has planned. Please let us know your favourite traps from the series.
'Saw X' is released in cinemas September 29th