Saw is definitely one of the most unique horror franchises of all time. Unlike most other villains, Jigsaw doesn’t actually want his “subjects” to die. He would much rather see them succeed in their tests and survive.
Thusly, he doesn’t outright kill them the way the Michael Myers or Freddy Kruger would. Instead he puts them through insanely difficult and dangerous tests or games. These would eventually become the cornerstone of the series itself.
So we thought it would be fun to look over these deadly traps (which by the way, the movies never called them “traps” until Saw 3D), and count down the top 10 best ones!
Note: For this list, we’re factoring in how creative and gruesome the trap itself was, as well as how the “subjects” reacted in them.
10. The Public Execution Trap (Saw 3D: The Final Chapter)
While this “final” installment in the series is definitely the weakest, but it does boast one of the most unique traps in that it’s completely visible to the public. Surely it was just a gimmick to up the ante for what was supposed to be the last movie in the franchise, but it is kind of cool and fascinating to see the public have to watch the deadly game play out.
We had seen plenty of situations where players were forced to compete with one another, but it’s a lot of fun here to see Brad and Ryan go from fighting over Tina to deciding that she’s been equally manipulative of both them, and turning on her.
9. The Death Mask (Saw II)
Saw II opens with a cringe-inducing game, particularly for those who are squeamish around eyes. Every survival instinct we have prevents us from sticking something in our eye, and the idea that we’d have to do it is absolutely horrifying.
There’s also an interesting duality in that it’s the inverse of the infamous Reverse Bear Trap from the first movie. It makes for a cool opening in my personal favorite Saw movie, plus once it goes off, it makes Mike look like The Man in the Iron Mask.
8. The Spike Trap (Saw IV)
Saw IV remains a really interesting entry into the series as it’s the one that gives us the best glimpse into Jigsaw’s mind. Not just from the series of tragic flashbacks into his backstory, but also with Rigg’s series of tests that force him see, feel, save, and judge as Jigsaw does.
The Spike Trap pits an abused wife against her husband, as she symbolically rips the spikes the bind her to her abusive husband. Out of all the traps in all the movie, it’s the one that audiences root for the person to succeed the most.
7. The Glass Box (Saw V)
This one made for a really cool ending for Saw V since it wasn’t just the box itself, but the room closing in on itself. It provides a cool twist where the box itself provides safety.
But after watching Adam and Detective Matthews simply screaming as they reached the end of their fates, Agent Strahm reveals that he’s the most badass.
Even as the walls close in around him, he fights to the very end, trying to shoot his way into the box and even climbing up to the ceiling, fighting for a way out.
6. The Angel Trap (Saw III)
Kerry remains one of the most tragically underused character in the early entries of the series. In Saw II she’s referred to as the Jigsaw expert by Matthews, but she never got to be the main character in any movie.
However, her death in Saw III is by a hauntingly beautiful trap that seems almost angelic, like its namesake.
5. The Carousel (Saw VI)
It’s not the most visually interesting or creative trap in terms of design, rather this one makes the list solely because of how fun it is to watch all of William Easton’s employees turn on each other with the same apathy and dog-eat-dog spirit they have for policyholders.
Saw VI demonstrates just how scummy that whole industry can be, and the way that all of them fight with each serves to further prove that.
The device itself makes for a really cool visual, and even cooler is Strahm’s quick thinking in giving himself a trach allowing himself to breathe.
3. The Reverse Bear Trap (Saw, Saw VI, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter)
It’s the most iconic trap of the entire franchise, the one that both Amanda and Hoffman passed and that ultimately killed Jill. The device itself is really frightening because, unlike many of the later contraptions, this one is just plausible enough to be real.
It looks like something that someone could have made from Home Depot. And while it takes a full seven movies to finally see what it does to a person’s face, it really doesn’t disappoint. There’s a reason it remains the defining piece of imagery for the Saw series.
The way that Timothy Young’s whole body is strapped to it is reminiscent of some medieval torture device, which Leigh Whannell admitted was a huge inspiration for him when writing these movies.
1. The Needle Pit (Saw II)
If this scene didn’t make you cringe, did you even watch Saw II? Upon being thrown in, most audiences have the same facial reaction as Amanda herself. Phobia of needles is incredibly common, and that’s exactly what this scene plays into.
It’s horrifying because of its simplicity. It’s not some over the top contrived device, rather it’s just a hole in the floor filled with syringes, and just the thought of it still terrifies me today!
Which Saw traps are your favorite? What kind do you hope to see in Spiral? Let us know the comments!