Friday 20 October 2023

REVIEW: SAW X (2023) - Starring Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith

Out Now in Cinemas and on Digital at
And out soon on Blu-ray, pre-order now at

Review by Jon Donnis
"Saw X," the tenth installment in the iconic Saw film series, offers a fresh perspective on the Jigsaw legacy while staying true to its gruesome roots. Directed by Kevin Greutert and written by Peter Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg, this film takes a bold step by serving as a direct sequel to the original "Saw" (2004) and a prequel to "Saw II" (2005). With an $13 million budget, the filmmakers embarked on a journey that would both satisfy long-time fans and intrigue newcomers to the franchise.

Tobin Bell's performance as John Kramer/Jigsaw continues to be a highlight of the series, and in "Saw X," he delivers what is arguably his best performance in any of the films. Bell's portrayal is essential to the Saw franchise's success, and it's clear that without his commanding presence, these films would not have achieved the same level of popularity.

One of the film's notable strengths is its shift towards a more balanced storytelling approach. "Saw X" places a greater emphasis on character development and storyline, making it feel more realistic than some of its predecessors. The film has more dialogue and less torture, which adds depth and substance to the plot. This approach keeps the audience engaged and invested in the characters' fates.

Shawnee Smith, returning as Amanda Young, gives a memorable performance and is given an opportunity to showcase her acting prowess in her short but impactful appearance. Her character adds depth to the film's narrative and maintains the continuity of the series.

"Saw X" also succeeds in paying homage to its roots, with numerous "movie Easter eggs" and callbacks to the original film that will delight die-hard fans.

However, there are a few drawbacks to consider. The decision to delve into John Kramer's more human side, driven by his vulnerability due to brain cancer, may not sit well with all fans. While it is an attempt to evolve the character and franchise, it might take away from the character's established mystique as a remorseless killer.

The film's nearly 2-hour runtime might feel a bit long for some horror enthusiasts. Horror films tend to work best when they are compact and deliver shocks without overstaying their welcome. This runtime may test the patience of viewers looking for quick thrills.

In terms of production, "Saw X" is a step forward for the series. The trap designs are more complex than ever, showcasing a commitment to elevating the gore factor. Most of the gruesome scenes are achieved with practical effects, with CGI used only for minor touch-ups, which contributes to the authentic and visceral horror experience.

The plot is a well-crafted blend of suspense, twists, and gore. John Kramer's quest for a cure takes unexpected turns, and the introduction of new characters and the shifting allegiances keep the audience guessing. The traps themselves are creative and brutal, delivering the signature "Saw" shock factor.

In conclusion, "Saw X" successfully balances a fresh take on the Saw franchise with the elements that made it a horror staple. With strong performances, complex trap designs, and a more intricate plot, it deserves an 8 out of 10. While it takes some risks that may not appeal to all fans, it manages to breathe new life into the series and keep it relevant in the world of horror cinema. "Saw X" is a must-see for longtime enthusiasts and those seeking a thrilling, gory experience.

Out Now in Cinemas and on Digital at
And out soon on Blu-ray, pre-order now at