Every Saw Movie Ranked, Worst To Best (Including Saw X)

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Summary

  • The Saw franchise is a blockbuster horror series though the first seven entries have been something of a mixed bag in terms of reviews from critics and audiences.
  • Jigsaw, the 2017 reboot, struggled to capture the glory of previous Saw movies. The traps were less ingenious, and the movie moved away from the satirical nature of the original series, making it less playful.
  • Spiral: From the Book of Saw, while lacking Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw, attempted to evolve the franchise beyond a character that died six movies ago. It starts slow but goes full Saw eventually. The final twist was predictable, making it a good but not great movie.

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The Saw movies rank as one of the most successful and influential horror franchises of the 21st century, although the Saw movies ranked greatly varies. Saw premiered in 2003, and the massive hit propelled filmmaker James Wan into the Hollywood mainstream. Two years later in 2005, Saw 2 debuted and was a box office hit, launching the IP into a full-fledged horror movie franchise. Even without Wan as director, Saw 2 thrilled audiences with its interesting premise and captivating villain. Soon, Saw movies came out every October for several successive years, and while critics were not always on board, they remained successful.

The original Saw movies came to an end in 2010 with Saw 7: The Final Chapter, which served to bring the saga of John “Jigsaw” Kramer and his apprentices full circle. That was until 2017 when the soft reboot Jigsaw showed up. Jigsaw ended up having a much more direct connection to the prior films than fans expected. Chris Rock’s reboot Spiral: From the Book of Saw once again brought the franchise back to theaters, the ninth movie in the Saw franchise, and Jigsaw himself returned for Saw X in 2023, but which Saw movie is the best?

RELATED: Saw X’s Mid-Credits Scene Explained

10 Saw V (2008)

Costas Mandylor as Detective Hoffman in Saw.

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When it comes to the Saw movies ranked, Saw V is low thanks to taking the focus off of what made John Kramer so interesting. This sequel was seen as a drop-off from Saw IV and that is mostly because it takes place after Jigsaw died and his apprentice Detective Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) took over as the main villain. Hoffman wasn’t anywhere near as compelling as Jigsaw himself, though actor Tobin Bell still appeared in flashbacks. While the cat-and-mouse game between him and FBI agent Peter Strahm is interesting, and the traps are great, the movie does nothing to move the story, which leaves it the weakest edition of the franchise.

9 Jigsaw (2017)

Jigsaw movie poster.

2017’s reboot Jigsaw attempted to return the Saw movies to pop culture prominence but failed to capture the glory of previous Saw movies. The main selling point was supposed to be the return of Jigsaw himself, John Kramer. However, this was just a cameo and almost seemed like a cheat. Also, the movie was missing one big thing that made the rest of the franchise so iconic. The traps were not as ingenious and interesting as the rest of the series. The movie also moved things slightly away from the satirical nature of the original traps compared to the victims’ sins, making it a little more tiresome and a lot less playful in nature.

8 Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021)

A montage from Spiral: The Book of Saw.

Spiral is the ninth Saw film to release, and while its lack of Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw hurt, it was time for the franchise to try and evolve beyond a man that died six movies ago, as great as Bell was in the role. With Chris Rock in the lead, Spiral takes an act to find its feet, but before too long, things go full Saw, albeit without the original killer or any of his apprentices. Spiral‘s final twist was predictable though — a far cry from the reveal at the end of the first Saw. Ultimately Spiral is a good movie, but it fails to be a great one. The ending of Spiral might have given way to a sequel, but Saw X appears to ignore this one, making it likely a one-shot for the Saw movies ranked.

7 Saw VI (2009)

The Saw VI steam room trap.

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Interestingly, Saw VI sported the best critical reaction of the franchise outside the first film when it comes to the Saw movies ranked, but it had the worst box office, the only Saw entry to make less than $100 million worldwide. The most frustrating aspect of Saw VI‘s financial failings is that it is the smartest entry in the Saw movie franchise. Saw VI focuses on the inadequacies of the American healthcare system, and how it condemned John Kramer to death. It was still gory and thrilling, and it offered up a change in that not all the victims were pure evil, and John and his apprentices’ motives were not as noble as in the past few movies.

6 Saw: The Final Chapter (2010)

Dr Gordon in Bobby Dagen's meeting in Saw 3D.

Saw 7: The Final Chapter seemed designed to be the grand finale for the Saw horror franchise after Lionsgate started to see diminishing financial returns. However, it ended up disappointing in both critical acclaim and the box office. Other than the surprise return of Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes), it seems lackluster in traps and the message of the movie. The main plot involving Bobby Dagen, a self-help guru who lied about surviving Jigsaw, wasn’t very interesting, and while the kills are good and gory, the creativity well was running dry. However, for those who followed the twists and turns of the story, it provided a nice conclusion to the franchise.

RELATED: When Saw X Takes Place In The Saw Timeline

5 Saw II (2005)

Tobin Bell as John Kramer in Saw 2.

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When it comes to the Saw movies ranked, Tobin Bell is in top form as Jigsaw in Saw 2, especially now that he doesn’t have to pretend to be dead for the whole movie. This was where the entire franchise really started its mythos and where the story really started. Saw 2 also had some absolutely terrifying traps, including the infamous Saw needle pit and the glass box full of razor blades. However, one thing that holds it down is Detective Eric Matthews. The character is antagonistic with a violent temper and is supposed to be the hero. Audiences often found themselves rooting for Jigsaw, which was a strange turn for the Saw movie series.

4 Saw IV (2007)

Jigsaw captures Cecil in Saw IV.

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Saw IV wasn’t great when looking at the Saw movies ranked when considering the traps and puzzles. Saw IV did little to update the usual Saw traps and survivors tropes, other than introducing some new variations on the established formula. The movie also saw the return of Detective Eric Matthews, who as considered a somewhat uninteresting character. However, what makes Saw IV better than most people might remember is the interesting layers added to Jigsaw’s backstory and origins. Saw is more than just torture, as it is also a morality tale about people facing consequences for their sins, and this movie really shows that importance.

3 Saw III (2006)

Amanda puts the shotgun collar on Lynn in Saw III.

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Saw III is the first movie to complicate the Saw franchise timeline by offering flashbacks revealing John Kramer’s backstory. In the actual movie, Jigsaw dies — but still pulls off his most complex, challenging game yet. Amanda fails her own test as a punishment for crafting inescapable traps, and protagonist Jeff Denlon (Angus Macfadyen), a grieving father who has to choose between mercy and revenge, is probably the most sympathetic person ever forced to take part in Jigsaw’s trials. As it is, Saw III is not only the best sequel, but it is technically the best movie in the entire franchise. It has a great story and traps and is the highlight of the entire series.

2 Saw X (2023)

Tobin Bell looking creepily ahead in Saw X.

The first proper prequel in the franchise, Saw X, ranks among the best Saw movies. The tenth movie in the franchise partially flips the script on what audiences came to expect from the horror movies, as the story is much more personal for Jigsaw this time. The return of Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith’s Amanda Young gives Saw X some familiar characters, while the new cast of Jigsaw victims delivers a mixture of horrible and redeemable individuals. By the time that Saw X‘s ending concludes, audiences have been treated to a great amount of traps, blood, and twists. That ensures Saw X is familiar enough, while also grounding the franchise like never before.

1 Saw (2004)

Amanda Young in the Reverse Bear Trap in Saw.

While Saw III is the better movie, Saw is the one seen by many fans and critics as the best of the Saw movies ranked. It isn’t nearly as good or smart as the third movie, but it set the stage and stands the test of time as creating the entire subgenre of torture porn. Without Saw to set the stage, none of the other movies would’ve been possible on a narrative level, and every subsequent sequel builds on elements introduced in this first movie. Saw definitely has the lowest budget of the series, but thanks to Wan’s skills, never feels cheap. The ending twist was also praised, although it becomes a bit hard to justify if thought about too closely.