Plans are in place for yet another Saw film
Spiral: From the Book of Saw—the ninth installment in the successful series–debuted in 2021, but that will not end the franchise. Reports have already surfaced about another Saw film–and this one may even see the return of John Kramer, the Jigsaw killer.
The History of Saw
Starting with a collaboration that would continue onward for many years, director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell co-wrote the original screenplay to Saw which was inspired by nightmares the duo had when they were young – dreams of being trapped in situations with no means of escape. After finishing film school Wan and Whannell, both from Australia, wanted to make a film together and finished the screenplay for it in 2001. After many failed attempts to get picked up by any production company, the creative team traveled to Los Angeles where they filmed a low-budget short film which they used the same title for. As a snapshot of the overall screenplay, the short film turned out to be a successful step for them. Producers from Evolution Entertainment picked up the film and as such formed their own production label, Twisted Pictures that would back each sequel in the Saw series and other films by Wan and Whannell such as Death Sentence and Dead Silence. With a budget of $1.2 million, the writer and director team filmed the script in 18 days and had to think cheap the entire way through; considering the duration of the film was mainly two men trapped in a single room together, there were savings alone on the amount of locations needed.
Distributed by Lions Gate Films, Saw had a wide theatrical release on October 29, 2004. The film followed two victims, played by Whannell himself as Adam Stanheight and Carey Elwes as Dr. Lawrence Gordon. Both were chained to pipes mounted to the walls while the villain Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) was present the entire time posing as a corpse with a gunshot wound to the head. Throughout the film, Dr. Gordon who is a surgical oncologist, and Adam, a photographer, learn more about one another and learn that it is no coincidence that they are trapped together. When the two awaken in an old dilapidated bathroom, they find a tape recorder where a voice explains that Dr. Lawrence’s task is to kill Adam by the time the clock on the wall reaches six, otherwise his family will be killed. With clues left on the tape about things they could use to help them, they find a bag with two hacksaws in it, which they used to try to cut through their chains. When that fails, Dr. Gordon realizes Jigsaw doesn’t want them to cut through the chains but instead their feet. As it turns out, Adam was hired by Detective David Tapp (Danny Glover) to photograph Dr. Gordon who was a prime suspect in the “Jigsaw” killings, where each victim was found with a slice of skin removed in the shape of a puzzle piece. The revelation causes mistrust between the two and Dr. Gordon feels uneasy about Adam for not being honest, claiming that he did not know him before them waking up. Jigsaw chose Adam for living his life watching others, and Dr. Gordon for stepping out on his wife and daughter despite their deep love and affection for him. Flashbacks showed the detailed accounts of Jigsaw’s other victims, namely Amanda (Shawnee Smith) who was among the few who survived their trap. After the game’s time runs out, Dr. Gordon is desperate to escape and believing his family will be killed, he uses the hacksaw to slice off his foot at the ankle. Telling Adam he will return with help, Dr. Gordon crawls out of the room bleeding from the stump where his foot used to be leaving Adam to find out the Jigsaw killer was in the room with them all along. As the series’ signature theme song plays, Jigsaw is revealed to be John Kramer, a patient of Dr. Gordon’s who was being treated for cancer. As Adam screams, Jigsaw tells him the game is over and closes the door leaving him in darkness.
Saw set an unprecedented box office record for a micro-budget film and went to become a multimillion-dollar franchise, with sequels released every year in October until 2010. The iconic Billy the Puppet character was introduced in the first film when the flashback characters were shows videos before their traps explaining why they’re there and what they must do.
Saw II – Given the original film made $103.9 million, a sequel was given the green light instantaneously. Wan was unable to return to direct but Whannell co-wrote the follow up’s screenplay with director Darren Lynn Bousman. The first sequel saw the return of Jigsaw whose health is continuing to deteriorate and instead of two characters trapped in a single room, there are eight victims trapped in a house filled with traps everywhere. One by one each of the characters fall victim to Jigsaw’s game until it is down to Amanda, who returns from the first film, and Daniel Matthews who is the son of Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) that is interrogating John Kramer during the events of the film. What each sequel brought was a little more background on John Kramer’s life and what lead him to become Jigsaw. One of the notable traps of the film is the needle pit was one of the most intricate and tedious traps to set up because over 20,000 real syringes were used but needed to have the needles swapped with artificial tubes to prevent the actors from being harmed. The reveal this time around was Amanda had been working with Jigsaw and she helped set the traps and gather the victims. Saw II was released on October 28, 2005 and grossed over $147 million at the worldwide box office on a $4 million budget.
Saw III – The third entry returned Bell as Jigsaw and the screenplay co-written by Whannell and Bousman, who also directed. This time the traps are a series for a grief-stricken father named Jeff (Angus Macfadyen) who wants revenge for the death of his son who was killed in a drunk-driving accident. Each trap is a chance for Jeff to decide the fate of the people involved, from a witness who did not testify, the judge who ruled the driver innocent and the driver who caused the accident. For the “Pig Trap” in the film, the pigs were actually made of rubber and latex but filled with live maggots for dramatic effect. In the end it turned out Jigsaw had been playing a game with not only Jeff, but also Amanda and the nurse named Lynn (Bahar Soomekh) who was keeping Jigsaw alive with a bomb collar around her neck. In the way that by shooting Lynn, who turns out to be Jeff’s wife, Jeff kills Amanda and then cuts Jigsaw’s throat with a power saw which sets off the collar his wife was wearing, violently killing her. The sequel was released on October 27, 2006 and became the highest grossing entry earning $164.9 million during its theatrical run.
Saw IV – When the series changed hands was after the death of Jigsaw and his sidekick Amanda when it was brought to light there was another assistant that as it turned out was an inside person with the city’s police department. With Bousman back in the director’s chair, the fourth film cranked up the violence dial with its traps that included an apparatus the pulled back a woman’s scalp and the death of Detective Matthews where his head was crushed between two blocks of ice. The theme of the film came down to Daniel Rigg who as an officer of the law who Jigsaw was testing to see if he could let the need to save every person’s life go in order to prevent further deaths. The twist this time around was Detective Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) was Jigsaw’s inside man, who appeared to be trapped in a chair that could be electrocuted but was in no real danger all along. A further twist was the events of Saw IV run parallel with Saw III in that they are in the same slaughterhouse building on the same night. As with the other films in the series, reviews were primarily negative, but the film earned $139.4 million at the box office on a budget of $10 million when released on October 26, 2007.
Saw V – Director David Hack showed when it came to giving the background of the second assistant to Jigsaw, Hoffman was revealed to have created his own trap to extract revenge on the man who killed his sister. Jigsaw captured Hoffman and put him through a trap of his own that involved a shot gun, which he passed. He saw Hoffman’s talents, strength and police insight would be useful in helping set up Jigsaw’s “games.” While Hoffman has a game in play following Jigsaw’s death with five victims going through a series of traps, FBI Agent Peter Strahm is following Hoffman’s footsteps as he grows suspicious of his whereabouts from the slaughterhouse incident. Fans get a full-on introduction to Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell) who was Jigsaw’s former wife who plays a suspicious role in finding who else could be behind the new traps since Jigsaw is dead. When Strahm tracks down Hoffman and throws him into a glass chamber it turns out the real trap is the room that begins to close in on Strahm. Hoffman is lowered to safety while Strahm is crushed alive. Receiving lower rated reviews than the previous entries, the film was released on October 24, 2008 and still a success when it made $113,864,059 in theaters.
Saw VI – The sixth entry, now with director Kevin Greutert at the helm, went into further territories of the series mythos showing that John Kramer had a chance to get treatment from an experimental procedure that could have potentially healed him but was denied health coverage. As it turns out, the victim who is tried throughout the film is the same insurance executive, named William Easton (Peter Outerbridge) who denied Jigsaw coverage and is now seeing how his decisions affected others, namely a mother and son whose father died because the health insurance company also denied him coverage. Easton meets his demise when the son chooses to release a vat of acid that melts him in half because he believed his father died because he did not get insurance. This time around, Hoffman almost gets away clean from the investigation against him after he kills the agents that discover the truth about his involvement with Jigsaw, but he is stopped by Jill Tuck who electrocutes him, straps him to a chair and places a modified reverse bear trap around his face. He almost perishes but breaks his thumb to escape his shackles and quickly places the front piece of the trap between two bars of a door window that hold it closed, letting him escape but slicing open his cheek in the process. Following the lower-than-anticipated return at the box office, $68.2 million, producers decided there would be one final film in the series following part VI’s release on October 23, 2009.
Saw 3D: The Final Chapter – Despite a lawsuit between Elwes and the producers of the first film over profit royalties, he reprised his role as Dr. Gordon for the final sequel at the time. It is revealed that Dr. Gordon survived the ordeal from the original film by cauterizing his ankle wound on a hot pipe. The series of traps are brought against an author named Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flannery) who poses as a victim of one of Jigsaw’s traps but actually went through no such incident. Profiting off the real victim’s tragedies, Dagen is chosen and goes through traps that involve pulling a fish hook from a lawyer’s mouth for lying under oath and one of the most severe than involved a group of neo-Nazis who are all killed when the leader needs to pry his back from a car seat after being glued to it, ripping his skin off and ran out of time. After Hoffman reciprocates by putting the original reverse bear trap on Jill, she is killed when it goes off, ripping her skull in half. He nearly escapes but is approached by a group wearing pig masks which are led by Dr. Gordon, who as it turns out was Jigsaw’s ace in the hole. Following the events of the original, Dr. Gordon helped Jigsaw by gaining inside information from the hospital, doing medical procedures on victims who had foreign objects inside of them and above all avenging the deaths of everyone Hoffman killed in cold blood because that was never Jigsaw’s intention. Chaining Hoffman to the same pipe that Adam was in the first film, Dr. Gordon sees his foot still where he left it after cutting it off and kicks the hacksaw that was still on the ground out of Hoffman’s reach. Dr. Gordon looks back closes the door telling Hoffman game over as this time he screams in darkness. In a seesaw turn of events, Saw 3D grossed the second-highest of the entire series so far at over $136 million when it had release on October 29, 2010 but has the lowest reviews score, 10 percent per Rotten Tomatoes.
A fun fact is the running time for the first seven films in the series amounts to 666 minutes!
Jigsaw – With a seven-year gap from theatrical releases, 2017’s Jigsaw was a return to form bringing in new victims and traps from directors Peter and Michael Spierig. This time Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) is following the discoveries of bodies appearing that seem to be victims of Jigsaw’s traps. As it turns out, Jigsaw had yet another apprentice, Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) who was the medical examiner who accidentally swapped John Kramer’s X-Ray with another patients which caused the doctors to miss his cancer diagnosis and lead to it metastasizing. The big twist in this entry was that the series of traps shown during the film were actually from before the events of the first film when Jigsaw was alive and the bodies appearing were from a new round that were being investigated. As had been the case in previous entries, it isn’t always clear exactly when the films take place until the big reveal at the end. Although reviews were negative, it did fare better than its immediate predecessor and still went on to earn $103 million after it was released on October 27, 2017.
Spiral (Also called Spiral: From the Book of Saw) – Released on May 14, 2021, this ninth installment in the Saw mythos was one of the early big-budget films opening only in theaters during the global pandemic. Eventually, Spiral would be made available to Red Box and other shortly afterwards, with streaming rights going to Starz beginning on October 8th. Starring Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, and Max Minghella, this film attempted to take the franchise in a “new direction” and received mixed reviews from critics. This would be the only film in the Saw legacy that did not feature Tobin Bell in any capacity. Filmed in Toronto, Spiral featured nearly all of the trademark Saw theatrical landmarks (gore, torture devices, detectives one step behind, etc.), but Billy the Puppet was now replaced with “Mr. Snuggles.” Spiral would go on to earn $40.6 million worldwide on a $20 million budget.
Saw also inspired two video games for the Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles, merchandise including masks and action figures and a one-shot comic book titled Saw: Rebirth which explored origins of the Jigsaw character but was later contradicted by the events of Saw IV.
John Kramer, The Jigsaw Killer
Actually, the non-killer of the series, Jigsaw traps victims and lets them deicide their fates instead of murdering them and was not in the original script but created later. After Whannell experienced migraines he was visiting a neurologist to conduct an MRI and during his time there he thought about what it would be like to be given the bad news of only having a few years to live. His thought of Jigsaw was he only had a year or two to live and would put people he deemed ungrateful into the same situation but only had a few moments to decide whether they live or die. With each sequel viewers delved more into John Kramer’s past from when he was hospitalized, to his wife having a miscarriage of their child, to him trying to commit suicide by driving his car off a cliff but surviving. It was surviving this incident he wanted to teach ungrateful people how important it is just to be alive. His background as a civil engineer was what helped craft the traps and execution of the “games.” Jigsaw officially died in Saw III but as seen in the subsequent sequels there was always someone that carried on the legacy.
The Body Count
Saw – Six on-screen deaths:
- Paul Leahy by exsanguination from being repeatedly cut by razor wire in Razor Wire Maze Trap.
- Mark Rodriguez by immolation after he’s covered in flammable substance and burned alive by a candle in the Flammable Jelly Trap.
- Donnie Greco by disembowelment after being stabbed in stomach eight times with a scalpel and disemboweled by Amanda Young to get the key that unlocked the Reverse Bear Trap which was placed in his stomach.
- Detective Steven Sing by gunshot wound to the head from four shotguns in the Quadruple Shotgun Hallway Trap Security Trap.
- Detective David Tapp by gunshot wound and organ collapse after being shot in chest with a pistol by Zep Hindle.
- Zep Hindle by severe brain trauma after his head was bludgeoned seven times with toilet tank cover by Adam Stanheight.
Saw II – Nine on-screen deaths:
- Michael Marks by exsanguination after being stabbed in the head by multiple nails in the Venus Fly Trap.
- Cop 1 by electrocution when they’re electrocuted to death in the Staircase Trap.
- Cop 2 by electrocution when they’re electrocuted to death in the Staircase Trap.
- Gus Colyard by gunshot wound and brain damage after being shot in the eye with a .357 Magnum in the Magnum Eyehole Trap.
- Obi Tate by immolation when he gets burned alive in the Furnace Trap.
- Laura Hunter by poisoning when she succumbs to nerve gas in the Nerve Gas House Trap.
- Jonas Singer by severe brain trauma when he is hit in the head with nail-studded bat Xavier Chavez.
- Addison Corday by exsanguination when she bleeds out after wrists are cut by eight razor blades Razor Box Trap.
- Xavier Chavez by exsanguination when his throat is slit with a hacksaw by Daniel Matthews.
Saw III – Nine on-screen deaths:
- Troy by explosion which is caused by nail bomb in the Classroom Trap.
- Detective Allison Kerry by disembowelment when her ribcage is torn out in the Angel,
- Danica Scott by freezing to death in the Freezer Room Trap.
- Judge Halden by a gunshot wound to the head with a shotgun in the Shotgun Trap.
- Timothy Young by cervical trauma when his legs, arms and head twisted 180 degrees around in the Rack Trap.
- Adam Stanheight by suffocation and asphyxiation when Amanda covers his head with a plastic bag. Adam’s death is considered a mercy killing because he could not escape.
- Amanda Young by exsanguination when she gets shot in the neck by Jeff Denlon in an act of revenge for her shooting Lynn Denlon, his wife.
- John “Jigsaw” Kramer by exsanguination when his throat is slit with a power saw by Jeff Denlon.
- Lynn Denlon by decapitation when her head is blown off by five shotgun shells in the Shotgun Collar Trap.
Saw IV – 11 on-screen deaths:
- Trevor by severe brain trauma when his head is bludgeoned four times with a hammer by Art Blank in the Mausoleum Trap in an act of self-defense.
- Brenda by exsanguination when she is scalped in the Hair Trap and thrown through a mirror by Officer Daniel Rigg in an act of self-defense.
- Ivan Landsness by dismemberment when he is drawn and quartered by chains in the Bedroom Trap.
- Rex by impalement through his major arteries by rods that are later removed in the Spike Trap.
- A Police Photographer by severe brain trauma when he is shot through the head with a spike from a harpoon gun.
- Gideon Kramer by miscarriage when his mother Jill Tuck was hit in the stomach by a door Cecil Adams forced open on her by accident.
- Cecil Adams by exsanguination when he falls into a pile of razor wire after his face is sliced by kitchen knives in the Knife Chair Trap.
- Jeff Denlon by a gunshot wound and organ damage when he’s shot twice with a handgun by Agent Peter Strahm in an act of self-defense.
- Eric Matthews by severe brain trauma when his head is crushed by two blocks of ice in the Ice Block Trap.
- Art Blank by a gunshot wound and brain trauma when he is shot in the head by Officer Rigg.
- Officer Daniel Rigg by a gunshot wound and organ damage when he is shot in the chest by Eric Matthews.
Saw V – Five on-screen deaths:
- Seth Baxter by halfectomy and disembowelment when he is bisected with a swinging blade in The Pendulum Trap set by Det. Mark Hoffman in an act of revenge.
- Ashley by decapitation when her head is cut off by razor blade in The Collars Trap.
- Charles by incineration in a nail bomb explosion in The Ceiling Jars Trap.
- Luba Gibbs by cervical trauma when she is stabbed in neck with electric cable and later electrocuted with five cables in The Bathtub Trap.
- Agent Peter Strahm by total organ failure when he’s crushed by closing walls in the The Glass Coffin Trap.
Saw VI – 12 on-screen deaths:
- Eddie by severe brain trauma when he is drilled in his temples in the Pound of Flesh Trap.
- Hank by internal bleeding and organ rupture when his ribcage is crushed by vice in the Oxygen Crusher Trap.
- Allen by hanging when he’s hung by barbed-wire noose by William Easton in a decision-based trap.
- Debbie by impalement and severe brain trauma when her forehead impaled by a pipe in the Steam Maze Trap.
- Aaron by a gunshot wound and organ damage when shot by a shotgun in the Shotgun Carousel Trap.
- Gena by a gunshot wound and organ damage when shot by a shotgun in the Shotgun Carousel Trap.
- Dave by a gunshot wound and organ damage when shot by a shotgun in the Shotgun Carousel Trap.
- Josh by a gunshot wound and organ damage when shot by a shotgun in the Shotgun Carousel Trap.
- Agent Dan Erickson by exsanguination when his throat is sliced with a knife by Detective Mark Hoffman.
- Sachi by a gunshot wound and organ damage when shot three times in the back with a handgun by Agent Lindsey Perez on accident.
- Agent Lindsey Perez by organ damage and exsanguination when she’s stabbed six times in the stomach by Detective Mark Hoffman.
- William Easton by total organ failure when he’s melted in half by hydrofluoric acid in the Cage Trap.
Saw VII 3D: The Final Chapter – 26 on-screen deaths:
- Dina by halfectomy and disembowelment when she is sliced in half by center saw wheel in the Public Execution Trap.
- Kara by severe brain trauma when her head is crushed by a tire in the Garage Trap.
- Dan by dismemberment when his arms and jaw are torn off by a moving car in the Garage Trap.
- Jake by getting run over by car in the Garage Trap.
- Evan by exsanguination and Brain trauma when his back is ripped off and he’s flung through windshield then lands in another car in the Garage Trap.
- Alex by total dismemberment and mutilation when he is shredded by multiple lawnmower blades in the Blender Trap .
- Nina by impalement and exsanguination when she is impaled in the neck by four rods in The Silence Circle Trap.
- Suzanne by impalement and exsanguination when her eyes and mouth are impaled by three rods in the Impalement Wheel Trap.
- Cale by hanging when he is hung by noose in The Deafening Mask.
- Homeless man by organ damage after being shot three times in the back by Detective Hoffman.
- Matt Gibson by organ damage after being shot repeatedly by a machine gun in the Machine Gun Turret Trap.
- Police Officer 1 by organ damage after being shot repeatedly by a machine gun in the Machine Gun Turret Trap.
- Police Officer 2 by organ damage after being shot repeatedly by a machine gun in the Machine Gun Turret Trap.
- Heffner by exsanguination when stabbed in the throat by Detective Hoffman.
- Police Officer by exsanguination when stabbed in the throat by Detective Hoffman.
- SWAT Officer 1 by poisoning from hydrogen cyanide gas in the Cyanide Box Trap.
- SWAT Officer 2 by poisoning from hydrogen cyanide gas in the Cyanide Box Trap.
- SWAT Officer 3 by poisoning from hydrogen cyanide gas in the Cyanide Box Trap.
- SWAT Officer 4 by poisoning from hydrogen cyanide gas in the Cyanide Box Trap.
- SWAT Officer 5 by poisoning from hydrogen cyanide gas in the Cyanide Box Trap.
- Male Lawyer by exsanguination after being stabbed in the throat by Detective Hoffman.
- Palmer by cervical trauma when Detective Hoffman snaps his neck.
- A Police Officer by exsanguination when he’s stabbed in the throat by Detective Hoffman.
- Rogers by brain damage when he is shot in eye through an interrogation window with a handgun by Detective Hoffman.
- Joyce Dagen by immolation when she is roasted alive in the Brazen Bull Trap.
- Jill Tuck by dismemberment and exsanguination with her jaws forcibly torn open in the Reverse Bear Trap set by Detective Hoffman in an act of revenge.
Jigsaw – 11 on-screen deaths:
- Asthmatic Woman by an asthma attack and asphyxiation
- Carly by exsanguination and total organ failure when she is injected with hydrochloric acid brought through blood stream.
- John Kramer’s Nephew who is hit by a truck after being unable to activate his bike brakes.
- Mitch by mutilation by coils in the Cycle Trap.
- Ryan’s Friend 1 by incineration in a double-car explosion.
- Ryan’s Friend 2 by incineration in a double-car explosion.
- Driver of other car by incineration in a double-car explosion.
- Matthew by hanging himself committing suicide.
- Anna by brain trauma when she is shot in the head by sawn off shotgun that backfired trying to obtain the Shotgun Keys.
- Ryan by exsanguination when he bleeds out of severed leg after being left chained inside of the barn.
- Detective Halloran by severe trauma when his head sliced into eight pieces in the Laser Collar Trap.
Spiral: From the Book of Saw – 8 on-screen deaths
The totals show Saw at 6, Saw II at 9, Saw III at 9, Saw IV at 11, Saw V at 5, Saw VI at 12, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter at 26, Jigsaw at 11, and Spiral at 8. The grand total of on-screen deaths for the Saw film series is 97.
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