The Saw series sprang from the minds of Leigh Whannell and James Wan as a low budget thrill ride which began with two men in a room who had no idea how or why they were there, left to solve riddles to survive. Over the course of the next six years, it would grow into one of the most successful franchises in horror history thanks largely to its traps.
As the series pressed on, those traps grew more clever and elaborate, but maintained an essence of lessons bestowed upon the ungrateful utilizing symbolic retribution.
Jigsaw as Dante.
Clearly, it would be impossible to share each of Saw’s amazing traps, hence it was decided that one from all seven installments would be chosen.
Whether repulsive or recreational, they are ranked below. Click or pass. Make your choice.
7: Saw IV (2007) — Mausoleum
Two men chained by the neck to a device that would eventually drag them to their demise. All they needed was the key, which had been placed on the back of one man’s collar. On its face, it seemed a simple escape for both, but that simply was not Jigsaw’s style. One had his eyes sewn shut, the other his mouth. Communication was impossible. The tug of war trap was, and remains, pure nightmare fuel.
6: Saw II (2005) — The Furnace
Obi (Timothy Burd) had burned others with “lies, cons and deceits,” and after being confronted by the roid-raged Franky G (Xavier Chavez), climbed into a furnace to retrieve a nerve gas antidote hanging at the far end. A trap fit for a modern day Salem.
5: Saw V (2008) — The Glass Box
While it was Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) speaking to Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) on the tape, the trap otherwise known as a glass case of emotion offered a nod to back Saw II where John Kramer (Tobin Bell) informed Donnie Detective Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) “I am talking to you. You’re not listening.”
4: Saw (2004) — Reverse Bear Trap
One of the promotional posters for the original Saw featured a wide-eyed Shawnee Smith bearing the trap which would make numerous appearances throughout the series and to this day represents, for want of a better term, the crown of the saga. One could argue that this is the scene which comes to mind when conversations turn to Saw, and Billy the Puppet rolling in to declare “Most people are so ungrateful to be alive. But not you. Not anymore” certainly doesn’t hurt.
3: Saw 3D (2010) — Love Triangle
This voyeuristic trap was the very embodiment of Bertolt Brecht’s “you cannot make a man unsee what he has seen.”
2: Saw III (2006) — Pig Vat
The judge who handed down a light sentence to the man who struck and killed Robert the Bruce’s son in an automobile accident lay fettered by the neck in a vat constructed for the collection of liquefied swine. With the key to the ajudicator’s release hidden within one of the possessions of the slain son, was Jeff (Angus Macfadyen) capable of moving forward and forgiveness? This particular trap’s symbolism was magnificent.
1: Saw VI (2009) — Carousel
A life insurance executive who had comprised a formula that would determine which policy holders would prove the most cost effective to approve or deny had the tables turned when he was forced to bear first-hand witness to his decisions with regard to who lived and died. This scene was heart-pounding, heart-wrenching and difficult to watch with a spritzer of humor chaser.
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