This year has been lackluster when it comes to the quantity and quality of horror films, but one classic has returned yet again for another installment of its franchise. “Saw X” was released Sept. 29, bringing back the gory, torture-filled flick that horror fans have been anticipating.
The Saw franchise is widely known for its gruesome death traps and Jigsaw puppet, but “Saw X” brings a fresher feel to the timeline of the franchise. The story is set between the events of “Saw I” and “Saw II,” and the main protagonist ironically is John Kramer (Tobin Bell), the man responsible for sending many to their deaths in the other Saw movies. In an attempt to cure his cancer, a desperate Kramer travels to Mexico where he meets Cecilia Pederson (Synnove Macody), a doctor who promises patients that her father’s procedures will cure their ailments. Just like the previous movies’ victims, Pederson and her team are con artists who pretend to “cure” patients for profit. Kramer ends up figuring out their trick, and this is where the main horror begins.
The body horror is lacking in this movie, but that is not a bad thing. Rather than emphasizing gore, “Saw X” has an intriguing story with great pacing; it feels more like an actual movie then torture porn. During the scene where Kramer is serving his special kind of justice, we get a glimpse of his back-and-forth relationship with his apprentice, Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith). We have never before seen Amanda’s upbringing or training, and this film puts Kramer in a teaching position, training a young Amanda to carry on the legacy of Jigsaw.
The goriest scenes come as a second test for Amanda, serving as Kramer’s assistant instead of his victim. In previous movies, the traps were annoyingly complicated, and most were not memorable. “Saw X” made its traps simple and gruesome with a touch of suspense, making the audience watch as each victim struggled to complete it and wondering if they were going to meet a terrible fate. The acting was fantastically played to the point where you felt their fear. My favorite trap was the brain drill, playfully ironic as someone who played a brain surgeon would now have to perform surgery on themselves in order to save their life. Every trap was perfect for each person, and I would not have changed anything about it.
“Saw X” is one of the best films in the franchise. It is gruesome, but not too bloody, has an interesting plot line and keeps the audience hungry for more. Even better, the ending perfectly leaves open the possibility of more film additions, with many questions still to be answered. Some characters fates are up for interpretation, and the next installment could give us clarity or throw more tortured souls into Kramer’s clutches. These questions are shrouded in mystery, but Saw always seems to keep audiences, and we can count on the franchise to maintain that same classic slasher quality.