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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Oct 13, 2023



THE ‘SAW’ franchise started in 2004, the directorial debut of James Wan who has since became a big name in horror flicks. 

Originally meant to be released as straight to video, it was released theatrically and more than $100 million, an unexpected gold mine so several sequels have been made since then. 

The total series has grossed $1 billion worldwide, making it one of the most successful horror franchises ever.

It’s not the usual horror flick involving ghosts or the supernatural but one that is actually more scary as it involves real people and is called torture porn.  

The first “Saw” introduced the Jigsaw Killer, who holds his victims captive in a huge bathroom where they must torture themselves to survive. 

The Jigsaw Killer is introduced as John Kramer (Tobin Bell) and he is given more exposure in “Saw II”. Rather than killing his victims right away, he subjects them to test or games.

We now have “Saw X”. This is not really a sequel to “Saw IX” which starred Chris Rock. It’s actually a sequel to “Saw I” (2004) and a prequel to “Saw II” (2005.)  

The movie brings back Tobin Bell as John Kramer and Shawnee Smith as his assistant, Amanda, who has already been killed in “Saw III”. 

In “Saw X”, John is told that his days are numbered because of his terminal brain cancer.

He then meets by chance, Henry Kessler (Michael Beach), another cancer patient he previously met in a cancer support group. 

Henry says he is now completely cured due to a new but unapproved cancer treatment discovered by a Norwegian doctor, Dr. Finn Pederson.

He gave John the doctor’s number and John is able to talk to the doctor’s daughter, Cecilia Pederson (Synnove Macody Lund), and tells him he can go consult her her clinic in the outskirts of Mexico City as one her few selected clients.

In Mexico, he is driven to the clinic by Diego (Joshua Okamoto) and she meets Dr. Cecilia and her medical team: Gabriela (Renata Vaca), Mateo (Octavio Hinojosa), Valentina (Paulette Hernandez) and Ramon (also played by Joshua Okamoto.) 

He also meets another patient, Parker Sears (Steven Brand), who says he has also been cured by Dr. Cecilia. 

He likewise makes friends with a young boy, Carlos (Jorge Briseno), when he fixed the boy’s bike. 

Surgery is then performed on John. When he regains consciousness, Cecilia tells him he is already cured. Feeling grateful, he wants to give a present to Gabriela but when he returns to the clinic, there is no one there and he discovers that the whole procedure was just a big hoax to get his money. 

The people who swindled him obviously have no inkling that they’ve just messed with one of the most elusive serial killers in cinematic history.

As revenge, Jigsaw then kidnaps Dr. Cecilia and the members of her team with the help of Amanda. 

To make them all pay, he subjects them to his familiar lethal games and death traps. We don’t have to describe to you in detail the tests that forces the victims to inflict pain on themselves in order to survive.

Suffice it to say that one is decapitated, another one is coerced to drill his own skull and another one is subjected to overheated X ray radiation. 

A twist occurs when Parker turns up to save Cecilia and it turns out they are really lovers.

Then the boy Carlos makes a mistake of showing up and he, too, is mercilessly subjected by Cecilia and Parker to torture.

But both John and Carlos manage to survive and turn the tables on Cecilia and Parker. 

Don’t leave the theater right away as there is a mid-end credits sequence showing Henry Kessler who also happens to be one of the people who scammed John.

If you are one of those sado-masochistic viewers who love blood and gore, then this movie is for you to enjoy. 

But if you’re the squeamish type who cannot bear watching people sawing off their own arms or skull, then by all means, avoid it.

Tobin Bell has appeared in supporting roles before on TV series like “The Sopranos” and “24”. 

The role of serial killer John Kramer/Jigsaw is his most challenging role in his career. 

He was in nine of the “Saw” series of movies, making him a true horror icon even if he actually played more like a support in his own franchise. 

Yet now, he gets to play his best performance so far in “Saw X” as his character as John Kramer/Jigsaw takes the center stage. 

He’s already 81 years old but still up and about. 

“Saw X” explores an untold chapter in Jigsaw’s personal story as he becomes weak and desperate because of his illness.

Kudos to the writers who have conceived of this interesting twist in the series. 

After he expects a miracle cure and gets scammed, John then turns the tables on the con artists who deceived him, and other terminally ill patients, through some very ingeniously conceived and very terrifying traps. 

It is difficult for any long-running franchise to sustain viewer interest after almost 20 years. 

The novelty of the original premise shown in the first movie eventually loses its attraction as time goes on.

Those who’ve seen all the “Saw” movies would agree that many of them are more valleys than peaks. 

But the dedicated legion of fans who troop to the moviehouse each time there’s a new “Saw” movie will surely agree that “Saw X” manages to make the franchise more interesting by returning to the early days of Jigsaw’s journey and somehow humanizing him.