Saw X – 6.5/10

‘I still have a lot of work that needs to be done…’

Saw and its various sequels is now one of the most successful horror franchises of all time despite the fact that the general quality of the films themselves is a little patchy. 2021’s Spiral tried to do something different with limited success and it felt at the close of that movie that franchise was perhaps running on empty. Saw X is an attempt to return to the glory days of the first few movies and the result is the best Saw film since Saw VI

Taking place at some point between Saw and Saw II, Kevin Greutert’s tenth entry sees John Kramer (Tobin Bell) travelling to Mexico for experimental cancer treatment headed up by the seemingly prestigious doctor Cecilia Pederson (Synnøve Macody Lund). After the operation goes well, Kramer begins to suspect that all is not as it seems…

Greutert is no stranger to the Saw franchise having already directed the aforementioned Saw VI (which is great) and Saw 3D (not great). Here, he reunites not only with Bell but also with Shawnee Smith’s Amanda Young – a wise move as Kramer and Amanda have always been the most compelling characters in the franchise. It’s great to see these characters back together and Bell does justice to his big return with possibly his strongest performance in any Saw movie. The problem is the plot. It’s too predictable. The big twists and turns when they do come arrive with a thud rather than a bang and the supporting characters aren’t strong enough or memorable enough to carry the narrative during its weaker moments. Elsewhere, the traps are gruesome but lacking in imagination and the general air of competence is a bad fit for a franchise that always does its best work when sliding off the rails. The more insane the better.

Saw X is one of the better Saw sequels but it’s also one of the least fun. Overall, a tentative success but bringing the old gang back together could and should have been so much more exciting.