Lancashire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Jack Bottomley
Media Correspondent
4:18 PM 18th November 2023

Film: Saw X

In the wake of many recent horror franchise re-awakenings (Halloween trilogy, Candyman, Scream 2022 and Scream VI, Chucky TV series) Saw X marks perhaps the most unexpected of all.

While I've found lots to enjoy in most of the offerings in the series, even if some go off the rails more than others, Saw X marks an incredible return to original form, and rediscovers the thematic punch that has sometimes lacked from other viscera-flinging entries into the gruesome horror franchise.

Essentially acting as a new ‘Saw 2’ in many ways, this film goes back and occupies the space between James Wan’s 2004 original and Darren Lynn Bousman’s 2005 sequel Saw II. As John Kramer (Tobin Bell) is succumbing to his aggressive cancer, amidst his work as “Jigsaw” putting people in his deadly traps for their chance to fight to live and change.

However, a pioneering new treatment abroad just might hold his own key to survival, but when he finds that all is not as it appears, these conmen may have just chosen the worst person on earth to cheat. Thus beginning a grisly new game with even higher stakes.

Bell's John Kramer (aka Jigsaw) is placed at the main lead position for the first time in the series, and what a genius move to make. Bell's performance is moving, impactful and impressive, cementing this enduring character as one of post-millennium horror's most complex and engrossing.

He and a wonderful returning Shawnee Smith (as his ‘disciple’ Amanda) are superb, in an emotional story arc between the two, that treads towards revenge thriller but ends up more as a twisty moral drama, with ingeniously nasty traps (some innovatively used in ways you don't expect), buckets of blood (literally at one point) and many rewards for longtime fans of the series and its lore.

Saw X is such a rarity in movies, not only is it on par with the original, and a film that gives audiences what they want, while doing so in a different way, that prioritises character and story and re-assessing the dimensions of villain, hero, anti-hero and revenge, but it does so by being the tenth instalment in a series. When was the last time that happened?!

Delivering an unmistakable Saw experience through a very refreshingly different approach. This character-driven piece of franchise horror has to be the year's most pleasant surprises and proof that a character can transform, whilst very much remaining the same.

The best Saw since the very first and a film that deserves the praise it is receiving. The legions of loyal fans should stick around for a mid-credits treat too.

Director: Kevin Greutert
Starring: Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Sannøve Macody Lund, Renata Vaca
Release Date: Out Now (Cinemas)