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Halloween Horror: In Defense of the “Saw” Franchise

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bowling Green chapter.

I want to play a game. How many of us have fallen victim to what everyone else is saying about a film, television show, or music artist? How many of us have done this because there is simply too much content to consume in order to form our own opinion? The Saw movie franchise is one of the first movies that comes to mind when it comes to a franchise that leaves people thinking that is so long and it couldn’t possibly follow a coherent story.

Don’t get me wrong; the gore is rather extreme and these movies are definitely made for a specific crowd. However, with the release of Saw X and it being the highest fan-rated installment in the franchise, I figured there might be a new crowd of us ready to live or die.

As a self-certified horror movie snob, even I stayed away from the Saw franchise for a long time. It wasn’t because of the content; I usually turn to horror movies for body horror and all of its depictions in film. Like I mentioned previously, I had always heard from everyone that the Saw movies were just torture films and they did not follow any plot. I had seen bits and pieces of clips from the film, including Amanda’s first instance with the reverse beartrap and pretty blond man (Dr. Gordon) being chained up in a bathroom, but that was my only impression. I spent a lot of my time watching movies that were Saw-related, and even proclaimed a favorite movie that was directed by one of the directors from the Saw franchise (shoutout to Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrence Zdunich for Repo: The Genetic Opera; it is one of the best cult films of all time). What was I waiting for?

Time is an illusion. Yes, there are 10 Saw movies. While it seems like such a time investment, each film sits at about an hour and forty-five minutes runtime. The first three Saw movies go very well back-to-back-to-back, as Saw II and Saw III build upon the events of Saw rather chronologically. The director of Saw II, Saw III, and Saw IV is Darren Lynn Bousman, who also returns to direct Spiral: From the Book of Saw (the ninth installment in the franchise, starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson).

I found it a lot easier to break the movies up into viewing sessions, usually about 2 to 3 at a time. Admittedly, some of the movies were a lot easier to leave on in the background while I was cleaning my room and doing laundry, and some had me on the very edge of my seat, unable to do anything but watch the events unfolding onscreen. With 10 movies in a franchise, some are going to be loved differently by audiences, especially experienced Saw fans. If you’re dying to know, my top 3 Saw movies are Saw III, Saw II, and Saw VI. Spiral: From the Book of Saw is the only Saw movie to genuinely scare me, and I thought about the ending for days after I watched it.

The rules of our game have been made very clear. What order do you watch the Saw movies in? Where can you stream them? If you’ve already seen them in their release order, you know that the films do not go in order, time-wise. Watching the films chronologically with the plot, with the inclusion of Saw X, shows references to other movies (the “future” or “past” of John Kramer’s life) in the franchise. Are you ready to begin?

Please see the attached links included with each film for additional spoiler-specific content warnings, if needed. Understand that this is a brutal gore franchise that has a reputation for a reason; I just think it’s super cool. Take care of yourself!

Saw Franchise (in release order)

  • Saw 3D, also called Saw: The Final Chapter (2010) – available on Hulu (content warnings)

Saw Franchise (in chronological order)

  • Jigsaw (2017)
  • Saw (2004)
  • Saw X (2023)
  • Saw II (2005)
  • Saw III (2006)
  • Saw IV (2007)
  • Saw V (2008)
  • Saw VI (2009)
  • Saw 3D, also called Saw: The Final Chapter (2010)
  • Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021)

While these movies are at their peak being available for streaming with the release of Saw X, I couldn’t think of a more perfect time to get your gore on. I hope these plot twists are mind-bending (or limb-bending, head-exploding; you know how it goes) and super fun for you, a group of friends, or that one other person you subject to watching Saw with you. Game over.

Erin Anderson

Bowling Green '25

Erin is a Junior at Bowling Green State University, where she is majoring in Adolescent/Young Adult Education (Integrated Language Arts). Alongside being Senior Editor for the group, she loves to write about astrology, self-love, spirituality, and mental health.