in ,

The Top 10 Most Brutal Traps in Saw

There are many memorable franchises within the genre that would make for a fun movie marathon with friends: Friday the 13th, The Evil Dead, Hostel, and Paranormal Activity to name a few. These franchises span all subgenres, giving every fan a franchise that they can call their own. No one modern franchise has been as synonymous with horror as the Saw franchise. With their yearly Halloween releases in the early aughts, to the dubious morality of its lead antagonist protagonist antihero…John; Saw provided films for friends and critics to analyze and debate for years to come. With the recent release of Spiral, I thought what better time than now to go through the original heptalogy and look at the top 10 most brutal traps in Saw.

10. The Needle Pit (Saw II)

Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith) is thrown into a pit of hundreds of thousands of hypodermic needles in order to find a key

There are many iconic traps littered through the hyper-stylized film cells of Saw. One of the cringiest of them is surprisingly one of the least bloody. Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith) is thrown into a needle pit in order to find a key needed to open a lock that contains one dose of the antidote for the poison that is coursing through the contestant’s veins. This trap is not only a physical act for Amanda, but also an emotional one; her struggle with her opioid addiction is highlighted in its symbolism. With an intense fear of needles, this scene has always stuck in my mind.

9. Shotgun Collar (Saw III with a cameo in Saw IV)

Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) prepares to perform makeshift brain surgery on John Kramer (Tobin Bell)

Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) is thrust into an unfortunate position, as this whole test isn’t even really for her. Lynn is being used as a test for Amanda, while her husband, Jeff (Angus Macfadyen), is in a test of his own. While not the bloodiest of Saw films, Saw III offers one of the bloodiest scenes ever with John Kramer’s (Tobin Bell) brain surgery, which was deemed medically accurate so the MPAA couldn’t request any cuts of the scene. If only they felt the same way about the shotgun collar…

8. Chest Hooks (Saw: The Final Chapter)

Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery) inserting hooks into his pectoral muscles to save his wife Joyce (Gina Holden)

Finally, after years of lies, Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery) is forced to finally confront Jigsaw, only this time it is to save his wife’s life. From ripping out teeth and pulling keys out of publicist’s throats, he must face his one true challenge: to do what he said he already did. Adorning fake scars on his pecs, he digs meat hooks into his pectoral muscles to hoist himself up to an electrical cord that will release his wife Joyce (Gina Holden). His screams of pain echo through the room as he realizes this trap is an unbeatable trap.

7. Shotgun Carousel (Saw VI)

William Easton (Peter Outerbridge) must decide which of his 6 employees live, while they are chained to a spinning carousel with a shotgun pointed at them

Due to his occupation as a health insurance executive, and the occupation of his six “sharks,” who are all chained to the carousel, it’s really hard to feel bad for William Easton (Peter Outerbridge) and his employees. John brought William into the game due to William creating an equation of sorts that decides who gets their medical needs fulfilled, and who doesn’t. John even says to William, “so you get to decide who lives or dies,” leaving William severely uncomfortable from the question. The brutality of this trap comes less from the shotgun blasts, but more from the fact that you are literally spinning time and time again past a shotgun that is pointed directly at you, not knowing if your boss will make you the next one to go.

6. Death Mask  (Saw)

Mark (Paul Gutrecht) is stuck in a head contraption, known as the Death Mask, where he must dig into his eyeball to get the key for the mask

One of the first traps in the series, the Death Mask, showed us how grotesque Jigsaw could get. Mark (Paul Gutrecht) comes to, to find himself in a heavy metal mask. He is told by Jigsaw that he must, “look inward,” and that a hint is, “right before your eye.” This is all accompanied with x-ray images of a key in a skull…presumably his. Try as he might, he is unable to get the key and ultimately ends up losing his game. The idea of a death mask is frightening, but honestly having to dig a key out of your eye is a lot scarier.

5. Razor Box (Saw II)

Addison (Emmanuelle Vaugier) sticks her right arm in an unassuming glass box to grab the antidote to the poison, little did she know she was sticking her arms into razor blades

The brutality of this trap lies in its unassuming nature; us knowing this is a Saw film though lets us know that this won’t be an ordinary encounter. Addison (Emmanuelle Vaugier) finds a clear plexiglass box with the antidote inside. Thinking it’ll be an in-and-out situation, she shoves her right hand into the box. After spilling the antidote she shoves her left arm in there; soon realizing she can’t pull her arms out. The genuine fear she gives off sells the extreme brutality of this trap. While it still is nowhere near the goriness of other traps, the thought of knowing it’s all over at that one moment sells just how extreme it is.

4. Strahm’s Water Box (Saw V)

Special Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) get's put in a box that slowly starts filling up with water, and no foreseeable way out

Special Agent Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) has one of the most enjoyable character arcs in the entire series. There are many characters we are meant to sympathize with, but this is really the point where it is set in stone that Detective Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) is indeed a villain. Strahm is put into this box in another one of Hoffman’s patented inescapable traps. With no hope for escape as the box starts filling with water, Strahm takes out his pen and gives himself a tracheotomy. This foils Hoffman’s plan of being the sole survivor of Saw III, IV, and V.

3. 10 Pints of Sacrifice (Saw V)

Brit (Julie Benz) and Mallick (Greg Bryk) must fill up a beaker with 10 pints of blood in order to open the door

Saw V takes an interesting turn when the contestants find out towards the end of their game that it was designed for them to work together, not against one another. This trap was designed for all five people meaning each person would only have to give two pints of blood. Unfortunately with just two of them left, Brit (Julie Benz) and Mallick (Greg Bryk) must deposit 5 pints of blood each. Jigsaw points out that the body can still function while missing 5 pints, but they won’t function well. This trap leads to an amazing practical effect of Mallick showing his arm post trap and his arm is just a mangled bloody mess. It is absolutely grotesque.

2. The Rack (Saw III)

Timothy Young (Mpho Koaho) is stuck in a rusty device with each limb in a respective twisting mechanism, with Jeff being his only chance of survival

Could you forgive the drunk driver who hit your child? Jigsaw tells Jeff that Timothy (Mpho Koaho) is the man who ran over his child, immediately throwing Jeff into a deep rage. The trap is probably the most brutal one in the entire series. Each of Timothy’s limbs is locked into a device that slowly twists, completely breaking his arms and legs. Jeff eventually forgives Timothy, but it is too late at that point. Timothy’s bones pop out of his skin and it is game over for him. Jeff screams that he forgives Timothy, even though it is moot at that point. Out of all of the deaths in the franchise, this is one of the hardest ones to watch.

1. “He doesn’t want us to cut through the chains! He wants us to cut through our feet!” (Saw)

Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) prepares to do what needs to be done and saw off his foot

I know what you’re thinking…this isn’t the most brutal trap! But I would disagree. This was written as a singular event. This was written before the millions of plot twists and turns were written into the series. James Wan and Leigh Whannell wrote this as an emotional trap, and it really shows in Cary Elwes’ performance. This trap is a brilliant mixture of nostalgia, blood, and emotion, and I think at the end of the day that is what makes it one of the most emotionally brutal traps in the entire series.

At the end of the day, the Saw franchise is full of messed-up gut-churning traps, leaving everyone with one specific trap that hits that cringe trigger in their mind. While Jigsaw’s personal philosophy is extremely flawed, we are still left with an extremely gory and entertaining franchise to fill the time of any Halloween horror movie marathon!

One Comment

Leave a Reply
  1. In my opinion, the most brutal in the whole series is in Spiral, when the cop woman has to sever her own spinal cord with a buzz saw, or be suffocated and burnt to death at once. It’s one of the few times in the series when I had to look away. Not sure if this was written before or after that movie came out, though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Brendan Jesus

I am an award-winning horror screenwriter, rotting away in New Jersey.

Enid looks back over her left shoulder walking down a well-lit corridor

Censor Trailer Takes On the Video Nasties

RUAIRI O’CONNOR as Arne Johnson in New Line Cinema’s horror film “THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It Is a Welcome Change of Pace