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The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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April 21, 2024

“Saw X”: The missing piece of the bloody puzzle

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@Saw
With returning faces and a heightening of the classic “Saw” tropes, “Saw X” not only thrives as a top film in the series but as one of the greatest horror films of the decade so far.

★★★★

Most horror franchises are so ungrateful to be alive, but not “Saw,” not anymore. 

After 19 years of “Saw” movies, “Saw X” resurrects the franchise by continuing its iconic story through the eyes of the main villain. With returning faces and a heightening of the classic “Saw” tropes, “Saw X” not only thrives as a top film in the series but as one of the greatest horror films of the decade so far.

“Saw X” is a midquel — set between the events of “Saw” and “Saw II” — following Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) as he travels to Mexico City to undergo a miracle medical procedure to cure his cancer. Unfortunately, Jigsaw’s operation was simply a scam, taking advantage of him in his most vulnerable state. Now driven by the opportunity to teach his scammers the value of life, Jigsaw turns their con into one of his token torturous games.

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Bell proves he is still astounding in the role of Jigsaw. His chillingly subdued performance anchors the film, but he adds deeper layers to his acting. With his character front and center, the film acts as an opening into moments of his everyday life — the life of a man desperately fighting for survival. The movie follows him at the hospital, to his cancer support group and during his morning breakfast. Bell ultimately makes the character sympathetic before comfortably slipping back into his psychopathic killer persona. Jigsaw is no hero, but Bell’s irresistible talent paves the way for an awfully likable character. 

Also returning is Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith), the devious apprentice of Jigsaw and a dazzling standout in the film. She commands the screen with an entertaining overconfidence and some well-placed dark humor to propel the tension. However, Amanda’s manic energy is only a facade as she hides her fear of the future. She views Jigsaw as a father figure, but she is unsure if she can continue his brutal legacy after he dies. The franchise finally nails Amanda’s moments of self-doubt and her genuinely emotional scenes with Jigsaw. 

Kevin Greutert — the director of “Saw VI” and “Saw 3D” and the editor for six of the previous films — also returns for directing and editing duties, bringing back the reliable and effective style that makes “Saw” iconic. His direction allows the fantastic character moments to cut between the numerous sequences of well-shot suspense. 

Additionally, composer Charlie Clouser creates yet another electrifying score for the newest “Saw” film. Clouser has scored all ten “Saw” films — the most by any composer for a franchise — and his music enhances the core of the sinister “Saw” aesthetic. He fills the soundtrack with thrilling and propulsive beats, especially in the updated rendition of the main theme, “Hello Zepp,” which will send chills down every fan’s spine.

Writers Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger also deserve credit for learning from their previous shortcomings. While their script for “Jigsaw” was convoluted and the story for “Spiral: From the Book of Saw” was far too safe, “Saw X” never draws more narrative blood than necessary. Unlike the previous films that devolved into a soap opera of flashbacks and retconning past events, this is a standalone story. Even with new twists, surprises and moments of fan service, the film never alienates first-time viewers of the series. 

However, “Saw X” could lose some audiences to its extreme, unapologetic violence. This franchise is known to have catapulted the popularity of the 2000s torture horror, and that approach to gore is prominent once again. The traps feature extreme self-mutilation — sometimes for multiple excruciating minutes at a time — but behind all of the violence is poetic justice for Jigsaw’s horrible test subjects. The scummy standout in Jigsaw’s game is Dr. Cecilia Peterson (Synnøve Macody Lund). Cecilia is despicable, selfish and careless, possessing all the evil qualities that Jigsaw lacks. In “Saw X,” Jigsaw finally meets someone who tops his sadistic behavior, creating a character dynamic that turns up the tension in fresh ways.

While “Saw X” brings an overbearing intensity that might turn certain viewers off, this is a film that “Saw” fans and general horror lovers will adore. With the strongest characters of the franchise returning and a focused narrative, “Saw X” is a long-awaited gift to the fandom. It took years, but the game finally came full circle with this bloody good time of a movie.

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Rylan Ammerman
Rylan Ammerman, Opinion Writer
Grade 12 Why did you join The B&W? To share my opinions and passions with the community. What is your favorite song? You Make My Dreams (Daryl Hall and John Oates)

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