‘Saw X’ Review: The Game Is As Killer as Ever

The 10th installment of the famed horror franchise ‘Saw’ releases this weekend, and it’s the return to form that we’ve all been waiting for!

This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.

Nearly 20 years after the very first Saw movie hit the big screen in 2004 comes Saw X, the 10th entry into the horror franchise. After a failed soft reboot of the movie series in 2021’s Spiral (led by Chris Rock — a newcomer to the series), Saw X breathes precious life into an aging, and frankly dying, movie franchise. We did it! Saw X kills — literally.

When Does ‘Saw X’ Take Place?

The movie sees Tobin Bell return front and center as John Kramer, the mastermind also known as Jigsaw who is behind the gnarly traps throughout the series. Alongside him is his accomplice and mentee Amanda Young, played by Shawnee Smith in her first on-screen presence since 2006’s Saw III — a return that longtime fans have been greatly looking forward to.

Set between the events of Saw and Saw II, John Kramer is set to have surgery in Mexico to remove his terminal brain cancer. The “doctors” sell Kramer the idea of hope, as he so commonly does to his players, yet it turns out to be a scam that he sees straight through, never truly removing his tumor. Together, Kramer and Young serve their style of justice as they take things into their own hands. Gruesome and grizzly traps ensue as the moral quandaries of Kramer and the participants play out over the course of the flick.

Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith Reunites in ‘Saw X’

Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith in Saw X | Agents of Fandom
Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith, left) returns alongside John Kramer (Tobin Bell, right) in Saw X. Image Credit: Lionsgate.

When I tell you that both Bell and Smith come to play in this latest installment, I’m not trying to play on words (although I can’t help myself when it comes so easy with these movies). They both decide this is the entry in which they are going to leave it all on the screen, and boy do they ever. The premise is among the most personal of a Saw flick yet, and it works wonders for not only the franchise as a whole, but for the titular characters of John and Amanda, adding additional lore and history to their relationship meaningfully. Of course, there are still the classic Saw elements to the film — grizzly traps, twists to make your head spin, and that oh-so-delightful theme song. It’s easily among the most brutal of any Saw movie yet, with some inventive traps that really do make your toes curl, so be prepared for some big screen blood!

If the franchise was gasping for life before this (and it was, trust me), it has now been extended hope, as John Kramer is so fond of doing. An evolution away from the frantic, scatterbrained editing style to a more cinematic technique and a score that actually adds dynamic range to both emotional and gruesome moments are huge steps in the right direction for this installment and the future of the Saw franchise as a whole. I was seriously shocked (not as much as some characters are in this film — literally) when I found myself trying to wrap my mind around the fact that Saw got cinematic. Who would’ve thought?

‘Saw X’ Marks One of the Best Entries in the Franchise

the vacuum trap in Saw X | Agents of Fandom
The vacuum trap is one of the many crazy traps in Saw X. Image Credit: Lionsgate.

This is a killer (see, I can’t stop doing it) return to form for the Saw franchise and hopefully a sign of a good, long life ahead for it. There is in fact a mid-credit scene that potentially sets up future films that you don’t want to miss. I pumped my fist in celebration when I saw it, I kid you not.

Some downright grueling traps and an intimate and focused character storyline pull through to make this (hot take incoming) my favorite installment of the franchise, even over the original. Of course, the original is the best rom-com movie of the early 2000s and has a special energy to it, but Saw X felt like the culmination of everything the franchise has been trying to achieve for nearly 20 years. We did it. We are so back, baby. Saw is so back.

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'Saw X' Review

'Saw X' Review
4 5 0 1
4.0 rating
Total Score

The Good

  • A character-centric plot drives the movie to more meaningful moments.
  • Killer new traps that retain the 'Saw' energy

The Bad

  • Falls into old 'Saw tropes that are tired.
  • Power dynamic between Kramer and nearly all Latinx participants can be problematic.
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