12 torturous things we need to X-plain about Saw X

The majestic, viscera-soaked puzzle that is the Saw franchise is a never-ending mosaic, building new layers of gore and crime intrigue ever since 2004’s relatively lean first chapter. Can you believe we’re already up to Saw X?

Strangely arriving in cinemas in September (Sawtember) instead of its traditional Halloween release date, this gnarly tenth chapter takes us back to the glory days of Jigsaw killer John Kramer and his fave apprentice Amanda. Here’s everything we know about the upcoming sequel/prequel/mid-quel, from the thrilling new traps to potential twists we might expect. Wanna play a game?

1. Jigsaw is still holding onto his same old grudges. Get over it, m8.

“Out of all the men to cheat, you pick John Kramer?” That quote from the Saw X trailer above couldn’t be more on point, since original Jigsaw killer John Kramer is certainly the most bitter dude in the entire world. Ever since Saw, he’s been taking out his terminal cancer diagnosis on everyone from shoplifters to cheating girlfriends to medical insurance scammers, and Saw X returns us to his peak era of pettiness. In this brand new sequel, he’s lashing out at the staff of a fraudulent Mexican hospital, who pretended to cure his life-threatening illness and are now getting pretty threatened themselves.

2. The plot takes place between Saw and Saw II

A quick refresher: we saw Kramer step out of the central Bathroom Trap in the first Saw film and evade capture, before sneaking away from justice again in Saw II by tricking Donnie Wahlberg’s cop Eric Matthews into the same grimy location. About a year transpired between each of these original grand Jigsaw schemes, giving the misery mogul a good amount of time to try (and fail) to cure his terminal illness. Needless to say, we’re very glad he happened upon a fresh batch of victims during this never-before-seen gap year.

3. It’s been called “Jigsaw’s most personal game yet”

Rewinding all the way back to James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s OG Saw film, it can be hard to believe that villain John Kramer wasn’t really in the movie all that much. Fans had to wait until later sequels and prequels to see more of Tobin Bell as the embittered sadist, and his gaunt, authoritative performance has been a pivotal presence in almost every entry since.

In an interview with Empire, director Kevin Greutert claims that Saw X will feature Kramer “more than any other Saw” film, closely following his connections and reactions to each grisly trap. That’s way more screentime than his extended nap and sleepy awakening in the OG film.

4. Fan fave Jigsaw apprentice Amanda is back

Who could forget the iconic Reverse Beartrap, and the woman who miraculously survived it, only to be recruited into Jigsaw’s legion of disciples? As former addict Amanda Young, Shawnee Smith has brought vulnerability and darkness to many Saw chapters, so it’s a real thrill to have her back for this tenth turn. Although Amanda was tragically slain in Saw III, the timeline of this entry means we get to see her back as Kramer’s right-hand woman, and we can’t wait to witness more of their twisted (possibly romantic?) mentor-mentee dynamic.

5. Evil cop Mark Hoffman is also rumoured to return

As you may have already gleaned from this Saw-obsessed guide, the franchise is a hilariously convoluted, soap-opera-esque mess of death, flashbacks, and glorious twists. Once John Kramer died in Saw III, his influence continued to be felt—especially as corrupted Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) took over as the series’ secondary antagonist. Hoffman’s fate has been much debated by disciples of Jigsaw, as we last saw him chained by the foot to the same pipe that gave Cary Elwes’ doctor from Saw 1 so much trouble. As the nasty police lieutenant was retroactively complicit in the traps from Saw and Saw II, there’s every possibility that he might return to the franchise’s sick world in this tenth feature.

6. Saw X’s traps were apparently more complex to craft than ever

The crew behind Saw are a disgustingly talented bunch, frequently remarking that most of the traps we see onscreen would actually be able perform their yucky functions IRL. They went more elaborate than ever before for Saw X, and were consequently forced to separate filming into two chunks: three weeks over November 2022, and three weeks in January 2023. We love to imagine the production designers and harebrained engineers dreaming about how to slice up some poor bugger’s brain while they’re attempting to enjoy a regular Christmas.

7. The film’s poster shows us the gruesome, socket-sucking Eyeball Trap

Not even the janitorial staff from Jigsaw’s hospital stay are safe from his murderous wrath. In an exclusive clip from Saw X, we see a sticky-fingered cleaning man staring straight down the barrel of a typically brutal dilemma. Should he manually snap each of his fingers upwards? Or wait for a vacuum cleaner (nicely ironic) to slurp out his eyeballs?

The torture device is so visually striking that it totally deserves its place on Saw X’s official poster. Talk about an eye-popping scare.

8. It’s the longest film in the Saw franchise

Although Saw III’s director’s cut runs an indulgent 121 minutes, Saw X will still be the longest film in the franchise when we’re considering theatrical cuts only. The latest entry will go for an hour and 58 minutes, granting us almost two hours of blood-spurting, continuity-warping vengeance.

9. Previous franchise editor and director Kevin Greutert is back for a third round of pain

The Saw franchise is famously dark and grisly, but the series’ personnel have always spoken about each film’s set feeling like one big, bloody family. In previous entries, production designers and editors have been promoted to the top spot of director, and former editor Greutert is no exception. Having edited the first three Saw films, Greutert took over the directing reins for Saw VI and 3D, but he’s had plenty of input on other tremendous horror hits in-between. Thank him for the clever editing in The Strangers, Cobweb, and his consultancy work on sleeper hit Barbarian.

10. The film was shot on location in Mexico City

The first Saw film to take place outside the US, Saw X brings John Kramer on a not-so-relaxing holiday to Mexico, where he’s been promised a miracle cure for his debilitating cancer.

On-location filming wrapped seven months ago, with director Greutert calling the shoot “one of the most rewarding and epic experiences of my life”. Hope John and Amanda got the chance to taste some yummy street tacos in between their bouts of torture.

11. The story doesn’t seem connected to Spiral. And yet…

The last entry in the Saw franchise was quite an outlier, with comedian Chris Rock (secretly a Saw super-fan?!) writing and starring in the seemingly disconnected spin-off Spiral: From the Book of Saw. That movie included very little mention of the OG Jigsaw killer John Kramer, but you can always expect the madmen behind Saw to tie their chronologies together in one big, confusing knot of pain.

Back in 2021, frequent franchise director Darren Lyn Bousman seemed to believe that there was still a possibility of a “Saw 9” arriving in between Spiral and Saw X. But we’re secretly hoping that the team behind this newest film finds a brain-busting way to fold Rock’s separate shenanigans into the main series’ timeline. There’s gotta be a way.

12. Billy the Puppet did a hilarious parody of Nicole Kidman’s iconic AMC ad

US cinema chain AMC used to feature a schmaltzy, sentimental promo ad before each screening, of Aussie star Nicole Kidman expounding on the magic of movies. It was an instantly iconic meme that you’ve surely encountered—especially the bit where she gazes at the big screen, misty-eyed, and admits that “somehow, heartbreak feels good in a place like this”.

It’s just so ripe for parody. Which is why we feel such “heartbreak” that Saw X’s awesome take-off of the ad got taken down by AMC.

The parody would be the perfect short film to segue us into each screening of Saw X, but alas: it’s not to be. Still, we’ll always have Billy’s wooden eyes staring us down as he promises that “somehow, self-amputation feels good in a place like this”.