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Review: Saw X
Witness The Return Of Jigsaw
This is a quick review of the newly released film Saw X. Keep in mind this is but one of the many movies I watch every year, and that whatever initial grade I come up for this film could change for better or worse with time. To better keep up to date with both my thoughts on other movies and if my feelings on this film changed, follow me on Letterboxd.
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Via Letterboxd: Between the events of Saw and Saw II, a sick and desperate John Kramer travels to Mexico for a risky and experimental medical procedure in hopes of a miracle cure for his cancer – only to discover the entire operation is a scam to defraud the most vulnerable. Armed with a newfound purpose, the infamous serial killer returns to his work, turning the tables on the con artists in his signature visceral way through devious, deranged, and ingenious traps.
The first Saw film is one of my favorite horror flicks ever. But I have disliked each film since then so that the franchise as a whole may just be my least favorite major series to come out of Hollywood. As fascinating as Tobin Bell’s John Kramer has been, the films veering into torture porn over story, ridiculous plot twists that desperately try to recapture the magic of how the first film ended, and decreasing quality in the filmmaking have left me hopeless we’d ever see at least a half-way decent sequel. And attempts to revitalize the franchise with spinoffs like Jigsaw and Spiral have not made matters much better either.
But with Saw X (which ironically takes place between parts one and two and features many spoilers from films that take place after) my frustrations with Kramer never being fully explored have somewhat been addressed. Finally the whole concept of a madman who nonetheless is a vigilante anti-hero is executed with some gravitas and logic. Where as other sequels felt like they were just made to make you squirm, this one attempts to create a bit of a horror chamber piece in which morality is questioned and criminals get controversial “justice” served to them. It feels like an actual proper sequel to the first film in a way that makes you want to ignore all the other disasters.
But that’s not to say I don’t have my gripes either. Yes Tobin Bell delivers a great performance once again as Kramer with what is easily the most interesting turn we’ve seen from the character yet. But the gore porn aspect does peek its head out (no pun intended) a few times in a way that feels derivative to other films. It also has some cheap cop-outs in a few scenes to try and easily get the audience to root for John versus the other films where we’re supposed to be at some level sympathetic to the victims. This is particular in the finale where one of the cheapest tricks at sympathy is used. And finally because we know the fate of John and some others, it does lack that tension sometimes where we should be more “worried” about him when he bumps into certain dilemmas and road bumps.
But this is the first time that I’ve walked away from one of these sequels and came away liking it overall. Is it anywhere as good as the first one for me? Hell no. Am I in a rush to re-watch it? Not necessarily. But did I feel like I got an actual story that explores the morality questions this franchise attempts to? Absolutely - especially in comparison to the eight other sequels and spinoffs. We’ll see if they botch this with more lame sequels over the next few years or if with time I appreciate this one a little more or less than I do now; but I give Saw X an intial B- and coming from a “hater” of this franchise that speaks volumes about how much fans will like this one.