This is not a retribution. It's a reawakening.
Saw X is the highly anticipated Saw film that fans have been waiting years for. In the 2000's, remakes were the big thing in horror. But in the 2020's, it's all about direct sequels to horror's original films. A welcoming take on franchises to see where they can go with it. Saw is no exception but comes with a price. The Saw franchise relies heavily on story and is not a franchise you can just skip films. So throwing a Saw film in between the first and second installments could be tricky. Or could it? They definitely pulled it off and did exactly what Saw fans would likely suggest; finally focus a Saw film directly on John Kramer (Tobin Bell) and dig deeper into his terminal illness to see what really set him over the edge.
Saw X focuses on John Kramer looking for a cure to his terminal brain cancer. In his support group, he's recommended a specialist that apparently has cured 90% of patients cancer regardless of the stage. As the trailer displays, it's all a hoax. But what the trailer does not show you is how much involvement Kramer participates in with this project. After being lied to, Jigsaw/Kramer puts those involved in a series of games to not only test their will to survive, but to also show how much pain and suffering they've caused to hundreds of patients that attempted this treatment and were let down.
Saw X delivers on all cylinders with the traps. The trailer doesn't the film justice. There's unexpected twists within the traps almost every time! You never know what to expect. They are gorey, original, and satisfying enough to finally win those over that always looked at the Saw franchise as just torture porn. Here's a sample:
Of all the men to cheat, you pick John Kramer?
Rather than focusing on a victim's story or situation, the focus is all on John Kramer. We actually get to look at him as John and not just as Jigsaw. This may turn some heads that only like to portray him as a monster. But the truth is, he's a guy who has morals but who also happens to be a sociopath. Here we don't see him as a sociopath but can still see him as Jigsaw at his best which is what makes this film so good. You're actually rooting for Jigsaw the whole way through and feel no remorse for the victims. In a way, he seems like a super hero.
As if there wasn't enough hype already, people were even more excited when they saw that Amanda (Shawnee Smith) would be returning as Jigsaw's main apprentice. In addition to this, we have some amazing acting from two of which are fairly new to English films. The insane amount of hype for the return of Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) was also fulfilled. That was a personal huge addition I was hoping for. Overall the choice of characters are perfect. However, I personally thought that Shawnee Smith didn't deliver the greatest performance being that there were many times she was just standing around or not delivering as well as she had in the past Saw films. That may just be me though.
At times it seems odd that a seemingly level headed old man with brain cancer that gets a second chance at life would go back to working on his traps. But when we realize that he'd been scammed by a bunch of con artists, I don't blame him. There's little things here and there I would have liked to see different as well as a a twist that comes out of left field. That's not to say we don't get a twist here, but it's one that slowly builds up and doesn't leave your jaw dropping like the iconic scene from the original where John gets up off the floor and walks out the door. I don't think this is the best Saw film (that would be the original hands down) however it's quite possibly in the top 3 and definitely the best we've seen since the storyline saga (first 7 installments). The film also currently holds over an 80% Rotten Tomatoes rating, being the highest rating Saw film to date. With the hopeful box office success and continued positive reviews, I think it's very likely we will see another film in the franchise very soon. I'm curious where they would take the series from here. There's definitely a possibility to pick up where Saw X leaves off but that would also only toy even more with the franchises storyline and leave us scratching our heads even more as to how John Kramer was able to pull all this off in such little time. Personally, I'd like to see more Detective Hoffman, picking up where The Final Chapter (aka Saw 3D) left off. Either way, I'm happy to get anything new from this beloved franchise.
My personal ratings:
Out of franchise: 3rd or 4th best
Favorite trap: Brain Surgery Trap