History and Making of the 1st Saw Movie

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How Did the Saw Creators Feel About the Movie?

The original Saw movie is a horror genre masterpiece…a landmark film in all things horror.  In fact, Saw (2004) altered the course of horror movie history by using innovation to revamp the sub-genre of torture and traps.  Screenwriter and Leigh Whannell and director James Wan may have succeeded in turning a low budget film into a box office hit, but they started out as friends who met at film school. The two started out learning how to make films together and showcasing their small pieces in the same classrooms.  So what did James and Leigh think about how large and behemoth the Saw franchise has gotten? When they reflect, how do they feel about the terror they have spawned?

Horror Enthusiast has dug through a number of interviews to determine the original creators consensus on the Saw franchise.

The Inspiration for Working on a Project Together

After James showed a short film in a movie class, “Zombie Apocalypse,” Leigh approached him about his shared interest in horror movies, and they became friends.  Leigh took note that the rest of the school felt they were “above” or “better than” the horror genre, which probably strengthened their bond.  A few years down the road, post-film school graduation and living in poverty, they decided to build a movie for $5,000 that would be shot inside a single room with only 2 people.  James explained that it was difficult to work jobs they did not enjoy to get by, but that they waited for years before finally coming up with the right idea they could film in their own home or backyard. 

The movie Saw was more than 2 guys in a room trying to figure out how they got there and how to get out.  The movie was about following in the footsteps of self-made directors and success stories, people like ‘Kevin Smith  and Robert Rodriguez, two of their heroes.  James explained that they had several ideas over the years, both of them, but that they were very hard on one another and constantly rejected each idea. They even almost made a movie about nightmares, as well as about astral projection.

Paving the Path

Saw horror movie character drawing

After they finally came up with the idea, there was a lot to come up with to get their dream into motion.  They already determined the movie would focus around the story of two guys in a room with a dead body, a gun and a tape recorder; and they already determined the twist which is the end of the movie and the saw traps would be critical. The parts that were missing were the guts of the movie…the stuff that happened in between.  Leigh took over this part, and wrote a killer script.  James worried heavily about producers belief in him as a director, so he insisted they shoot a short scene on their own money, which James admits is mostly Leigh’s money at the time. And then the two of them wind up impressing everyone with their shoestring budget clip that is the birth of “Saw.”

What the Creators Wanted From Saw

The objective of Saw was not to create or otherwise contribute to a “torture porn” genre of horror. The goal when James and Leigh set out to write Saw, to get funded, and to direct and produce Saw, was not to create critics (although all movies do). The original creators of Saw wanted to prove themselves. They wanted to make a big movie, but realized after getting out of film school that money is required to make a big movie. So they found a way to prove themselves anyway.  To show that they could direct, that they could write, that they could even act if necessary, and that they could make a film that was great even with their own money. They wanted to make a big Hollywood movie.

The creators look back and consider Saw a “rough around the edges” project, something that was shot in too little time and without enough scenes. They look back and compare it to other horror movie franchises that are loved by fans around the world, franchises like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. They look back and realize how life changing it has been for them, but also how life changing it has been for others who enjoy the franchise.  The Saw franchise has an entire cult of fans who love every movie…and it all began with the first…two guys in a room. 

True Saw Fans

Saw (2004) is one of the most original and truly scary horror scenarios in any horror movie. In fact, it deserves an award for creating an original and terrifying situation and story line.  The directing is on point and the acting is awesome! Considering the budget these guys were working on and the fact the entire movie was shot in just 18 days, it is amazing that it was able to become a blockbuster hit and instant masterpiece!  This movie was a wildly successful film both at the box office and in generating a huge cult fan-base who have continued to enjoy the franchise for more than a decade!



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How to Survive a Saw Movie

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Is It Possible to Survive a Saw Movie?

Jigsaw is a very crafty, extremely intelligent horror slasher. While he believes his intentions are just and for the greater good, he is ultimately responsible for many victims. The fact of the matter is: most victims do not survive Jigsaw and his Saw movie traps.  Many Saw fans wonder, however, how would one survive a Jigsaw torture trap or Saw movie? Is surviving a Saw movie even possible?

Horror Enthusiast has plunged into the Saw franchise in an attempt to identify and classify the greatest threats in a Saw film.

Threats Found in a Saw Movie

Although there are a multitude of unique and creative threats throughout the Saw movies, some of the greatest threats can be easily identified and outlined.  A horror fan can use this guide to survive a Saw movie or Jigsaw trap house!

The Traps

The most obvious threats in a Jigsaw house or Saw movie are the traps.  Jigsaw is a highly skilled mechanical engineer who is able to create the most intimidating (and deadly) traps of all time.  Jigsaw uses all types of mechanisms and gadgets to force his victims to take action or lose their lives.  Jigsaw is famous for “giving his victims a chance to live,” even calling it “a game;” However, most of his victims will tell you (the very few who have survived) that it is not a game and it is not very fun.  The traps are oftentimes custom-made to match the victim and their atrocities.

In order to survive a Jigsaw trap or a trap from a Saw movie, you have to be willing to shed some blood and possibly lose a limb or other important part of your body (an eye, fingers, your stomach, etc).

Bleeding Out

Even if a Jigsaw victim makes it out of a trap, they are still frequently left in no condition to retrieve help…and violently bleeding out.  Sometimes, they die trying to get help after literally cutting off a limb. Other times they sever parts of their body to beat a Jigsaw game only to still fail and bleed out.  Because most of the traps involve sharp metal or torture devices meant to inflict pain, people typically bleed a lot and thus bleeding out becomes a grave concern when trying to survive a Saw movie.

To ensure you do not lose too much blood after getting out of a Saw trap, be sure to issue first aid…cauterize when necessary and possible.

Psychological Madness

A lot of people panic almost right away when waking up into a Saw trap.  This panic is a ‘fight or flight’ response and releases a lot of adrenaline.  The adrenaline can be useful in survival, but ultimately may cloud the victim’s judgment and thinking process. There is also some serious psychological torment in explaining to someone that they must torture themselves.  Unfortunately, many of Jigsaw’s traps require a steady hand and clear head to successfully accomplish.

Beating a Jigsaw trap requires patience and smooth thinking in what limited time remains, therefore, maintaining your sanity is important in surviving a Saw movie.

The Location

Not every Saw game is created equally.  Some games are set in a single, tiny room…while other times elaborate trap houses are setup by Jigsaw. While the actual size of the location makes a huge difference, it is important to remember that other factors may be at play as well.  Seeing as the victims cannot usually escape unless they beat the game, they are often met with many reasons to WANT to leave. In Saw II, for example, the house is filled with poisonous gas.

Surviving a Saw movie means being aware of your environment and remembering that typically nothing is what it seems!

The Timing

Some games are more time-sensitive than others.  There are smaller, faster-paced games that give the victim only a few moments to live after waking up from their abduction and playing a tape.  And then there are longer games that can keep a group of 5 or 6 people active for the entire duration of a movie.  Depending upon the time given for survival, a victim may be more or less likely to consider all of their options for a Jigsaw game victory.

In order to survive a Jigsaw trap, it is important to identify how much time you have been given, and the best way to spend the time you have left!

Other Game Players

A lot of the “games” Jigsaw plays involve more than one player. It is often times quite hypocritical…as on the one hand he is trying to “give the players a chance to live” but on the other hand, they are forced to compete with one another (assuring a loser dies).  Since the players are often in a competition-style environment, they are almost always a threat to one another, whether immediately, eventually, directly, indirectly, or discreetly. Sometimes (like in Saw II for example), the players kill each other.

Having social skills and always watching your back is a priority when stuck in a Jigsaw Trap House or Saw movie!


jigsaw movie how to get out alive painting of a man facing a spinning saw

Although most people these days have their Tetanus shot, a Jigsaw house would be a NIGHTMARE for anyone who has not been vaccinated. So much metal, especially salvaged junk are used in Jigsaw’s traps.  Additionally, the places he chooses to manifest his crimes are typically less than sanitary environments.

Make sure you always have your Tetanus shot prior to being abducted by Jigsaw or participating in a Saw movie!

Final Notes: Getting Out of a Saw Movie Alive

Remembering to identify the threats is key in surviving a Saw movie.  Depending upon the type of trap, the location, the other players involved and several other facts…a player may be able to overcome a trap and ultimately survive. Still, Jigsaw is one of the deadliest horror movie killers and the traps are oftentimes custom designed for the victims. Entering a trap house designed by Jigsaw does not provide very good probability of survival for anyone. 

Most people who wind up in a Jigsaw trap will not make it out.



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How Were the Saw Traps Invented?

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The Making of the Saw Movie Traps

The Saw movies are some of the scariest horror films to ever screen.  This is probably because a lot of the torture and traps found in the Saw movies could be replicated in real life and rely on no special powers. Saw bred a new type of horror killer, one that was smart, mechanically inclined and strategic.  Jigsaw is so good at being a horror slasher that he has even overcome his own death to continue killing from beyond the grave.

So how were the Saw prop-traps made? How did the crew and engineers put together these terrifying contraptions that Saw fans enjoy in all of the films?  Horror Enthusiast has paused every scene to inspect every bolt and every spring to find the origin of the Saw trap designs.

How The Saw Traps Were Made

Although each movie features different cast and crew, a lot of the ideas behind creating torture devices that inflict “unimaginable pain” on human beings seem to spread from movie to movie fairly easily. Here are some of the things that are known about the creation of the traps in the Saw movies.

Must Force Victims Into Action

The Saw traps have one hugely common theme: they force a victim into action which poses imminent danger for their life. Most of the traps bring the victims very close to death, if not actually killing them. Because of the risk, the victims must be forced to act. 

Capable of Death

Just about every trap risks the victim’s life completely. There is no chance of survival if the victim fails to beat the game.  Many of the traps deploy an unsustainable injury in the event the victim loses.

The Game Must Be Beatable

Any AUTHENTIC Jigsaw trap is supposed to be able to be won by the victim. This is to provide motivation for the victim to want to fight for their life.

Timed Traps

Many of the traps are timed, so that there is a reason to act with urgency.  This ensures a victim cannot simply “ignore the situation” or “wait it out,” but that the situation requires their attention.

An Instruction Manual

Jigsaw never leaves his victims in the dark, in the sense that they do not know what is going on. Each victim is informed, nearly right away, that they are there because of actions they have taken (or failed to take) in their life.  They are informed (usually by audio or video tape) that they have a chance to survive if they survive playing a game. Each trap is briefly explained with an idea of how to beat it. Only the determined shall survive!

Super Scary Looking

While Jigsaw may inform the victims of their imminent doom, nearly every Jigsaw trap is self-explanatory. The terrifying metal, teeth, blades, razors and needles used in the Saw movies are meant to strike fear in the heart but also show the audience exactly what is at risk.

Real Mechanical Designs

With the exception of SOME of the traps in the newer films, almost all of the traps are real, mechanical designs. That means, no CGI. An authentic Jigsaw trap should be made of metal, not pixels.

The Traps Must Be Safe

knife chair trap from the saw movies

The crew ensured that although the traps may have looked incredibly dangerous…they were in fact, very much safe for the actors themselves.

Final Engineering Notes: Saw Movie Traps

Jigsaw may have had a team of engineers and special effects people to help him make his traps in the movie, but the truth is, there is no limit to the creativeness in human innovation.  If more Saw movies were made, more traps would be devised and boundaries, pushed. The traps featured in the Saw movies thus far have been gruesome and claimed many victims. While they claim Jigsaw (2017) was the last of the franchise, there always seems to be “another final chapter” and another house of traps, right around the corner!



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Surprising Facts About the Saw Movies

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Interesting Facts About Saw

Finding yourself trapped in a Saw movie is probably one of the worst nightmares most horror fans could imagine!  The Jigsaw killer is calculated and has planned out his extravagant plots long before a victim even figures out what is happening.  So how did the writers and creators of the Saw movies devise such an intricate horror slasher?  Horror Enthusiast has pried through the traps and devices that make the movies and Jigsaw killer, to offer fans some of the most heinous Saw movie fun facts!

Interesting Facts and Trivia in the Making of the Saw Movies

A Title Change

The final Saw movie, Jigsaw (2017) was originally supposed to be called “Saw: Legacy.” This movie is often considered a bonus to fans (and to the creators), as the 7th film in the franchise, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010), was supposed to be the last Saw movie produced!

Saw’s Film Style

The intended film style for the original movie was to be through security footage only. In other words, the film would be presented as though it were found footage from security cameras laced together. Despite how it may have turned out [awesome], the creators of the original Saw still give credence to the Blair Witch Project as their initial inspiration for a Saw-type movie.

A Difference In Opinion

Saw wasn’t meant to be about blood and guts. The gruesome outcomes of the traps and insane violence that is seen in many of the later Saw movies did not match the vision the first movie’s creators had for a psychological scare with a twist ending. Regardless, some fans love the Saw films for psychological thrills and others for the straight up gore!

A Believable Relationship

The lead roles in the third film went to Tobin Bell (no surprise) and Shawnee Smith. It was decided that the two would spend several weeks hanging out and getting to know one another before the film so that their relationship would appear more natural.

Straight to Video Release

The original 2004 masterpiece was a super low budget film (only about a million dollars allocated). It was intended to go straight to video and most of the actors shot all of their scenes in just a day or two.  However, even more impressively, all of the filming was complete within 18 days total.

The Saw with the Most Traps and Deaths

Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010) is the movie in the franchise with the most traps (11) and the highest kill count (27 bodies counted).

The Longest Saw Film

Saw III (2006) is the longest of the 7 Saw movies. Saw III officially ranks in at 108 minutes…that’s a lot of carnage!

Jigsaw Inspiration

Leigh Whannell created the Jigsaw character (not the puppet but the idea of John Kramer) after having a bit of a scare during an MRI.  He began imagining a desperate person who would become psychotic after learning they were going to die.

Saw II Takes the Cake

The first sequel of the franchise, Saw II (2005) takes the cake for the highest grossing Saw film in the entire franchise. This is true both in the United States, and from within its home territory, Canada.

An Original Prop

The creepy little doll that rides around on a bicycle and represents Jigsaw was an original prop.  This Jigsaw ‘puppet’ was made from complete scratch by crew themselves (largely made by director/writer, James Wan himself).

The Longest Pre-Production Saw Film


Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010) was the longest pre-production Saw film in the franchise. This is because of the intense process involving interweaving 3D effects with real-life acting. Despite other Saw films averaging a 9 week pre-production prep time, the 3D sequal would take 21 weeks!

Largely a Canadian Franchise

The original Saw (2004) was the only movie in the franchise to be filmed in California. The entire rest of the 7 Saw films (including the latest Jigsaw movie) were produced and filmed in Ontario, Canada.

NC-17 Rating

The original Saw movie (2004) earned itself an initial rating of NC-17 mostly because of the sound and lighting. Obviously the producers decided to change that up a little bit in order get an “R” rating for threaters. Oddly enough, sound and lighting is not normally the reason fans hear later down the road (usually they have to tune down the gore and violence instead).

Final Words About the Making of the Saw Franchise

The Saw franchise is one of the most creative and innovative of the horror movie franchises. The deaths are typically unique and mechanical in nature.  The slasher’s motivation is also unique and creates sympathy among the audience. The victims are usually given a chance and considered people who do not value their lives or the lives of others…making for truly interesting “in between death drama.” One of the most interesting things about Jigsaw is that his legacy continues to claim victims long after he has passed.  Whether others commit the murders on his behalf, or people wind up in traps he has already set for the future, he is one of the most intelligent horror movie killers and racks up one of the highest body counts of them all!



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What is the Scariest Saw Movie?

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How to Decide the Scariest Saw Movie of the Franchise?

The Jigsaw killer is almost always entertaining..some believe even based on a real killer. The facts remains true that there are traps, story lines and characters which are scarier than others throughout the various movies.  Thus, there is naturally a ‘scariest Saw movie’ and a ‘least scariest Saw movie’ in the franchise.  Determining the fear felt in a Saw movie boils down to a few important factors including:

  • Could one imagine being in the victim’s shoes?
  • Are the traps horrifying enough?
  • Do many victims meet their certain demise?
  • Is there enough pressure on the victims to be felt by the audience?
  • Are other victims dangerous to the protagonist(s)?
  • Is there any chance of survival?
  • Is the environment also dangerous?
  • Is the music and ambiance in the Saw movie scary enough?

These factors all make a difference in how scary a Saw movie is, as well as many other factors.

Jigsaw and Saw Movies Ranked In Order of ‘Most Scary’

There are nine Saw movies in the Franchise, including the latest Jigsaw (2017) movie, and the spinoff Spiral in 2021. With another Saw movie coming out soon it’s a good time to rank them in the order of “scariest.” Horror Enthusiast has ranked the movies from scariest to least scare factor as noted below…

Saw (2004)

image from the original and scariest saw film of a man on the floor crawling for his phone

#1 Scariest Saw Movie

As many Saw movies as there may have been, it is always hard to beat the innovative genius behind the original movie. Saw (2004) provides a psychological terror that had previously never been felt in the horror genre.  There was a “what if it were me” kind of feel to the movie and the audience became extremely empathetic towards the victims.  Because there were truly only two main characters, their story line could be involved, allowing the two men trapped in a room to slowly unravel the mystery.  The entire movie was a test for these characters…whereas other movies feature many tests.  Saw is ultimately the greatest psychological thriller of them all and firmly secures its rank as the scariest Saw movie of all time!

Saw II (2005)

2nd Scariest

The second scariest movie in the franchise is also the second movie. Saw II (2005) featured a poisonous house and super dangerous victims all responsible for coexisting and working together. The story line was so carefully sewn together as to keep the audience enthralled without overdoing it.  With a regular flow of empathetic horror and the pure shock of perfectly timed, periodic deaths, Saw II solidly earns its place on the list! It was also the best performing Saw movie in the United States.

Jigsaw (2017)

3rd Scariest

Jigsaw is underrated by fans.  Critics are hard on this film probably due to prejudice of the previous film’s title and story line insinuating it would be the ‘final chapter’ in the franchise. The truth is, however, Jigsaw is plenty scary and showcases some pretty realistic acting.  The mechanical engineering was believable and the ambiance was right to get pretty close to the fear felt in the second movie, Saw II (2005).

Saw III (2006)

4th Scariest

The story continues in an entertaining fashion. The traps are still creative, the characters are still developed just enough without overdoing it and the audience remains captivated.  As an added bonus, the movie also performed strongly at the box office too!  This was the best performing Saw movie, at the international box office, and the second best performing Saw movie at the United States box office (next to Saw II).

Saw IV (2007)

5th Scariest

Saw IV is the first movie in the franchise that starts to see a true drop in audience. It also becomes more about traps and the story line seems too in depth.  Many fans seem to claim that they do not enjoy the story as much at all. Even with a good twist, it’s still not as scary as the better half of the franchise.

Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010)

6th Scariest

No doubt that 3D movies are really cool. The special effects can be radical, however, 3D movies typically wind up being all about the visual effects and nothing more.  The story line felt a little lacking and the emphasis truly was only on 3D effects, rather than the terror that can be found in a single well-designed trap.  This movie was most expensive to produce and performed at the far low end of the Saw-revenue scale.  Given most of it was not scary at all, it has also earned a solid 6th place on the scariest list!

Saw V (2008)

7th Scariest

Saw V was okay, however, it drags the cast from the previous Saw movie through another grind and seems to underperform in all categories.  It did not do as well at the box office as its prequels and it is far from scary.  This movie ranks in at 7th scariest Saw movie in the series.

Saw VI (2009)

8th Scariest

Saw VI feels like it is dragging on and the traps feel redundant.  Most fans seem to care very little about the story line and this film greatly underperforms at the box office.  That said, it ends up being more about the torture and less about the fear, making this the least scariest Saw movie in the franchise.

Spiral (2021)

9th Scariest

This spin-off features a new Jigsaw copycat killer who targets corrupt police officers. While it introduces fresh elements, it lacks the consistent scariness of the earlier films, focusing more on suspense and crime thriller elements.

The Best Saw Movie For Scares

Illustration of the Jigsaw killer from the saw horror films

The Saw movies never seem to lack luster and they are always innovative.  It is never a bad decision to see a Saw movie. However, just like any other franchise and all competition: there is always a best and a worst. In the case of ‘Scariest Saw Movie Ever Made’, the original Saw movie takes the cake…hands down. The remaining Saw movies are wonderfully done in themselves, however, they are merely riding the tailcoats of the original masterpiece.

There is nothing like a good psychological scare like the one that lives in the original film.



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