Directed by: Kevin Greutret
Distributed by: Lionsgate
Written by Alexander Reams
The franchise that after 19 years still finds new ways to massacre the human body and contort every victim’s mind to places it never knew it could venture returns to cinemas, and to a tried-and-true formula that every insatiable fan could want. These are words I have never been happier to write, Tobin Bell is back as John Kramer and finally takes command of the screen in the first, true, John Kramer-led “Saw” film and it’s now a question of “Why didn’t this happen sooner?” Bell knows this character like no other could and shows this through the first half of “Saw X” as it focuses on his journey to find a cure for his cancer diagnosis (but before the car crash, loss of a child, and health insurance scam) in Mexico, at the advice of Henry Kessler (Michael Beach).
Bell shines through this time and Greutret makes Kramer extremely sympathetic, which makes the inevitable twist all the more painful; the cure was a scam, the doctors stole his money, and he is going to die. With this newfound enlightenment, Kramer returns to his architect roots and begins his game. He kidnaps Diego (Joshua Okamoto) first to confirm his suspicions and then gathers the rest with his apprentice Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith, whose return to the franchise is nothing short of glorious). Once Valentina (Paulette Hernández), Mateo (Octavio Hinojosa), Gabriela (Renata Vaca), and the head of the program, Cecilia Pederson (Synnøve Macody Lund) are all in the room together, Kramer reveals his game and each is to be tested.
The traps of “Saw” are a staple of the franchise and the critique of their increased complication was sound and Greutret and his team went back to basics. The necessity for this is helped by the film’s place in the overall “Saw” canon. Each trap for these grifters is appropriately grotesque, but the most shocking moment of the film comes from Lund’s Pederson, who cuts open one of her fellow players and uses their intestines as a rope. It’s definitely a “WTF” moment but for a 19-year-strong franchise, nothing is off the table. They are wonderfully macabre and feel earned given what these people have done to Kramer. Pederson in particular is one of the slimiest victims to fall into John Kramer’s games and when her moment finally comes it’s immensely satisfying to watch.
After his experience on “Saw 3D,” the announcement of Greutret’s return to the franchise was a surprise, especially after franchise regular Darren Lynn Bousmann’s return. Admittedly this writer was skeptical, especially with the overall quality of “Saw 3D,” however it’s undeniable that Greutret wasn’t at fault after “Saw X.” His work here is up there with the best of the franchise, and some of the best body horror work this side of 2000. The secret was right in front of the studio the entire time, Greutret began as the franchise editor, and for the first time in his directing “Saw” he’s also the editor, and it is some of the best since “Saw IV.” When the iconic Zepp theme begins to ring through the film, it’s electrifying. “Saw” is back, there’s no denying it, John Kramer lives.
“Saw X” Trailer