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

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