Jigsaw’s gripping phrase, “Let the game begin”, feels iconic (we know it by heart, it’s like an esteemed trademark). Not only because Saw became such a popular horror series among genre fans, but in some inarticulate way, it evolved into a massive crowdpleaser. At some point, witnessing the killer’s victim’s fate became rather entertaining. We follow their deadly affairs, as we would have been watching some sort of a TV quiz (there is one called Minute to Win It and it ironically echoes the idea developed in Saw). We root for someone or instantly wish them harm: what a strange place and moment to which our bizarre pop culture has led us.
In any case, it also takes some boldness (or a lack of consciousness, depending on the interpretation) to produce a tenth episode that explores the lore’s past, not its highly anticipated future. Yet, here we are: Saw X takes place between the first and second instalment of the franchise, so it feels like this film is a wink for the very first Saw buffs.
In this episode, brooding pseudo-humanist, John Kramer (Tobin Bell), dying because of his terminal cancer and dealing with some nihilistic thoughts, confronts (or even deals with) other people’s hubris, when he learns that the miracle operation to cure his disease was, unfortunately, a deliberate fraud. Watching 81-year-old Bell taking his revenge on fake doctors is apparently enjoyable, as the actor is still startling with his eerie charisma and vital energy. Besides, some other old friends are back, so if you haven’t missed any part of the entire franchise, you will instantly feel that the movie’s creators genuinely care about its heroes and chronology.
Nonetheless, the newest Saw crosses the border of good taste, making the feature’s drastic sequences completely unwatchable for a typical Sunday viewer. There is probably everything gore-like one can imagine, from cutting off limbs (which isn’t that jarring when compared to other games) to the challenge of tearing out a piece of your own brain (it’s even difficult to visualise, but yes, the sequence is there). It’s horror at its best, but at what cost?
Before the start of the press screening, journalists got fancy sick bags (assuming they can be named “fancy”), coaxing them to either “vomit” or “cry”. But what about the third option called “leaving the cinema”? In the middle of Saw X, the urge to abandon the seat has never been so compelling and fierce. That being said, one thing is indisputable: the tenth part of this unforgiving franchise is only for die-hards.
Saw X is released nationwide on 29th September 2023.
Watch the trailer for Saw X here: