SAW X held a secret screening during Fantastic Fest.
Plots begin to feel convoluted whenever horror franchises get upwards of three entries. Saw X is the 10th film in the Saw franchise, and it’s the first entry to have a normal numbered title since Saw VI in 2009 (we’ve had Saw 3D, Jigsaw, and Spiral in between). If the titles are confusing, it likely won’t help that Saw X occurs between Saw and Saw II.
The plot follows John Kramer, aka ‘Jigsaw’ (Tobin Bell), as he travels to Mexico searching for a potential miracle treatment that could cure him of terminal brain cancer. When the miracle treatment turns out to be a scam, Kramer resorts to a new set of traps to bring these con artists to a demented sort of justice.
The Saw franchise has had a bit of an uphill battle ever since (spoilers) killing off Kramer in Saw III.
Many post-Saw III entries have resorted to flashbacks or other storytelling tricks to include Jigsaw in the plot. Placing this story between Saw and Saw II allows for a more personal story about the man behind the Jigsaw persona. As such, the first third of the film barely feels like a Saw film. We see some real personal moments as Kramer tries to do what he can to save his own life potentially. When asked about his career, he describes himself as a life coach or “something like that.”
Aside from a quick Jigsaw trap at the beginning of the film (which is only imagined by Kramer and doesn’t take place in the context of the film), we don’t see the typical Saw aesthetic for a big portion of the movie, which may turn off longtime fans of the series. On the flip side, it’s nice to see Tobin Bell get a chance to spend some time as Kramer in this franchise to which he has devoted so much of his career.
Once the signature Saw traps make their way into the plot, the movie kicks into high gear with all of the decapitating, limb-sawing, and face-melting that viewers have come to love. Director Kevin Greutert has been involved in every entry of the Saw franchise in some capacity (be it director, editor, or executive producer), so the series is clearly in the hands of someone passionate about the franchise.
I give SAW X 3 out of 5 stars. It has a fair bit of pacing issues in the film’s first half but otherwise turns into a solid entry in the franchise with a more personal focus on John Kramer rather than Jigsaw. It still will offer plenty of gore to appease longtime fans of the series this Halloween season. Make sure to stay for a mid-credit scene.