With the recent release of Spiral: From the Book of Saw, horror fans can finally rejoice, especially those who were bloodthirsty for deadly life or death games! Now that it’s finally out however, we can update the standings and rank the entire Saw franchise with Spiral being taken into consideration. So here is the entire Saw series, ranked from worst to best!
9. Saw 3D aka Saw: The Final Chapter (2010)
Originally meant to be the ending to the series, this seventh installment proved that the franchise stuck around one movie too long. At the time, 3D was all the rage, but looking back at it now, it’s just awkward and cringe-inducing every time we see a random object coming at the screen with really bad CGI.
The movie itself is loud, obnoxious, and in your face (and not in a good way). It feels like Lionsgate knew that the series was on its last legs, so they threw every idea, gimmick, and “extreme” trope at the audience they could, hoping some of it would stick.
Dr. Gordon’s reveal is admittedly interesting, but he’s barely in the movie and it’s a twist that everyone sees from a mile away. He was the one character that fans had speculated about since the very first movie, and his big moment deserved to be part of a better movie.
8. Jigsaw (2017)
A few years before Spiral, this was the first attempt to do a soft reboot of the franchise. Appearing only briefly, Tobin Bell does give this movie something of a connection back to the original series.
To its credit, it does provide plenty of references and fan service Easter eggs, however it doesn’t quite fit the tone or aesthetic of the other movies. The production design is great, but it’s a bit too polished and high tech for Saw (especially given that a large portion was meant to be set somewhere around 2004-2005).
But it does boast some cool traps (even in the trap plot feels a bit too similar to Saw V). There was definitely more care put into it than The Final Chapter, but it just couldn’t quite live up to the other movies.
7. Saw V (2008)
While not the best movie in the series, Saw V does have a lot going for it. We got a lot of cool backstory for Hoffman, as this is the first time we know he’s the villain from the very beginning. The whole intellectual chess match between him and Strahm is an interesting one, and honesty, it doesn’t go nearly as far as it could have.
Granted, the movie needed to have its “people going through a series of tests” subplot, however even with just an extra 20 minutes of runtime, the Hoffman/Strahm Departed plot could have been even more satisfying than it was. And while the traps were gruesome as ever, the characters in them were particularly annoying in this movie and it was honestly hard to root for any of them.
6. Saw IV (2007)
Following the deaths of Jigsaw and Amanda in Saw III, this movie had a very challenging task, and opening with John Kramer’s autopsy dispelled any rumors that he might be alive. That said, there’s a definite shift in tone and style from here on out.
The absence of Leigh Whannell and James Wan’s involvements is really felt. But Saw IV manages to pull off a really interesting narrative, giving us an even deeper look into John Kramer himself that even Saw II gave us.
Between the flashback subplot with him and Jill, as well as Rigg essentially being recruited as a possible disciple, this movie really taps into the Jigsaw’s overall philosophy in an interesting way.
5. Saw VI (2009)At the time of its release, healthcare was one of the biggest issues and debates on the national stage. And in a strange way, the challenges and issues that came with it sort of fit Saw perfectly.
Everything from John Kramer’s cancer diagnosis, to the real life tragedy of insurance companies denying claims, effectively forcing people into impossible situations where they couldn’t afford life-saving treatment.
So from a philosophical standpoint, Saw VI is one of the most interesting. It really strikes at the heart of Saw itself to see a character like William Easton forced to look the people directly in eye that he’s allowing to die.
It includes the carousel trap, which is a personal favorite of the entire franchise. Plus, the subplot with the FBI closing in on Hoffman is legitimately tense and ends with one of the most insanely awesome scenes where Hoffman just straight up murders everyone in the room.
4. Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021)
If someone had said a decade ago that Chris Rock would be producing and starring in a Saw movie, that would have been laughed off as ridiculous. But in a strange turn of events, that’s exactly what happened, and the end result was legitimately awesome.
Spiral feels less like a sequel and more of a standalone spinoff that manages to be a really tense murder mystery. Between a great script, Chris Rock’s sense of humor, and Darren Lynn Bousman really knowing how to direct a Saw movie, Spiral winds up being way better than most other soft reboots released 10+ years later are.
3. Saw III (2006)
Serving as the original ending to what was then the Saw trilogy, Saw III has a lot going for it. Its two main plots are equally compelling and wind up converging together in a really great way.
Jeff’s series of tests force the audience to question how easy it would be to forgive following the death of your child, and Dr. Denlon’s plot of trying to keep Jigsaw alive gives us some genuinely emotional beats and moments between Jigsaw and Amanda.
Clearly, she’s a disturbed character, and while she can be frightening, you really can’t help but feel bad for her. Saw III really understands its characters, and makes them front and center, all while delivering the gruesome gore that Saw became synonymous with.
2. Saw (2004)
It was the murder mystery that started it all. Two young filmmakers met in film school in Australia and came to LA to pitch their idea. The result was the Leigh Whannell written and James Wan directed Saw, a little indie horror movie that took the world by storm
At this point, there was no franchise or anything to live up to, so the movies was just free to do its own thing. It makes for a great whodunit, and there’s a beauty to how simple everything was back then. Even the traps were more basic, and Leigh Whannell even joked that most people could probably pull off doing these, as opposed to the very mechanically complex ones of the sequels.
But the real reason that the first Saw movie is so fondly remembered is that amazing twist that has definitely never been topped in any of the sequels, and has arguably never been topped by any other horror movie since!
1. Saw II (2005)
In a stunning upset (that shouldn’t be that surprising) Saw II managed to outdo the first movie in several ways. Both are absolutely brilliant, but this first sequel delivers on something that we barely got any of in the first film, Jigsaw himself.
Tobin Bell is an immensely talented actor, who was doomed to spend the majority of Saw lying face down on the bathroom floor. But here he’s featured front and center, and for the first time we really get a sense of who John Kramer is and what his philosophy means.
Obviously he’s quite hypocritical in how he denies that what he does is murder, but his motive is rather fascinating (more on that here). A lot of horror sequels simply try to rehash what was done before, but this one uses its bigger budget to really up the ante with the trap plot, but also gives us one of the most interesting villains in horror history.
Which one is your favorite and least favorite? Let us know in the comments!