The Saw movies aren’t technically slasher films but like Friday the 13th et al, half the fun is watching victims get dispatched in creative and horrifying ways. And the series has its fair share of horrors, its traps becoming more ridiculous with each entry. So, with Saw X finally arriving, here’s my round up of the best Saw movie traps.
The Best Saw Traps
Are Saw’s traps farfetched? Absolutely. I can buy that John Kramer and his accomplices/successor could find a deserted warehouse or two, but you’re telling me that no-one noticed an entire murder booth being set up in the middle of a busy city?
But what makes these traps so brilliant is that they’re so nightmarish, so fascinating and, more often than not, so gory that that those thoughts don’t pop into your head. Instead, you’re swept up in the horror that’s unfolding on screen. And, in some cases, you’ll be rooting for the character to meet a horrible, horrible demise. Or is that just me?
Either way, here are the best traps, culled from every Saw movie to date.
Knife Chair (Saw IV)
This trap may seem a bit rickety, partly because it’s the first one that John Kramer, aka Jigsaw, has put to the test. Jigsaw’s victim, who was responsible for the death of his unborn son, has to force his face forward into a set of knives in order to free himself. But its wonkiness is part of its charm. You get the shock of seeing the knives dig into Cecil’s flesh, followed by a flash of panic when he escapes and goes for Jigsaw. And if that doesn’t have you half-covering your eyes, there’s the coup-de-grace of his gruesome barbed wire demise.
Pound of Flesh (Saw VI)
This trap couldn’t happen to a nicer couple of crooks: two loan sharks who intentionally plunge people into debt. As Jigsaw’s message explains, only the person who surrenders the most flesh will survive. This immediately pits the pair, Eddie and Simone, against each other.
Each has only sixty seconds to work out how to hack bits off their body and dump it on the scale. It’s fantastically tense because, initially, it looks as if Simone is doomed. She realizes she’s got less to give than the heavier Eddie and can’t hope to compete. Or can she? Her solution? Let’s just say you’ll need a strong stomach to watch this one.
Public Execution (Saw VII)
This is the trap that the new Jigsaw somehow managed to set up in the middle of a city. Silly as it is, it’s gloriously gruesome. Plus, it provides a heartwarming lesson about the power of friendship. Two victims are hooked up to a set of concrete saws, with their cheating paramour trussed up above them. If one of them doesn’t take a saw to the chest, their shared love interest gets bifurcated. And all this takes place in full view of the public.
Laser Collar (Jigsaw)
This trap is a step into sci-fi territory but the end result is absolutely spectacular. Initially pointing outwards, the collar’s lasers slowly rotate towards the victims and, if not stopped, turn their head into a fleshy flower.
It’s CGI, yes, but it’s still a fantastic trap. It’s also as portable as the reverse bear trap so, had we got a Jigsaw 2, this could well have made a comeback.
Needle Pit (Saw II)
Compared to the other traps on this list, Saw II’s needle pit isn’t all that creative. The survivors need to find a key to exit the room and it’s hidden somewhere in a pit full of surgical needles. Former drug addict Amanda is thrown into the pit and, while there’s relatively little blood, watching her frantically search the pit, needles piercing her skin, is really tough to watch. Sure, you’re not the one being turned into a human porcupine, but if you’ve sat shivering in a doctor’s office, bracing yourself for an injection, this will bring it all flooding back.
Reverse Bear Trap (Saw)
The reverse bear trap is an oldie but a goodie and has become the series’ most recognisable trap. After appearing in Saw, it was later revisited in Saw VI and Saw VII. This worryingly portable device is strapped to the victim’s head and, if not disabled in time, rips their jaws apart.
There’s a key but, in the first Saw movie, it’s inside the stomach of another of Jigsaw’s victims. Given that Amanda is seen telling her story to the police, and Jigsaw helpfully left her a knife, there no prizes for guessing how she got her hands on it.
Brazen Bull (Saw VII)
Never mind Saw VII’s surprise special guest, what sticks with me is its deeply disturbing final trap and its wholly undeserving victim. The hapless soul in question is the wife of a man who lies about being one of Jigsaw’s victims. He builds a career around this lie, which is why the new Jigsaw decides to ‘test’ him for real. When he fails to disable the trap, a brass oven springs up around his wife and bursts into life. She gets roasted alive, all because her husband is a fraud. And if that’s not enough to give you nightmares, there are stories that the brazen bull actually existed in antiquity. It’s possible that they’re just that, stories. But the thought that it might actually have existed should keep you up at night.
Those, then, are the best Saw movie traps. And if we ever get a Saw XI, I’ll be eager to see what nightmares its writers can come up with.