Six years! Six movies! Can you believe it? It seems like it was just yesterday we were all hearing about this twisted short film by some whippersnappers named James Wan and Leigh Whannell, but today their baby "Saw" is the flagship franchise for the entire horror film industry. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), the series' constant villain, has joined the pantheon of scary movie greats like Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers. It's even recognized as the series that brought the horror subgenre of "torture porn" to the masses. Yes, it's a different world we live in.
Indeed it's hard to imagine a world without "Saw". And why should we expect there to ever be such a thing? The "Saw VI" writing team of Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton are already signed on to work through "Saw VIII." Seeing as how people are still turning out in droves to see Jigsaw's latest deathtraps every autumn, we can safely assume that "Saw" will be around to celebrate its tin anniversary on the big screen in 2014.
Here on the eve of "Saw VI"'s release, I say we take a look at how the sprawling story of Jigsaw will unfold on the road to hitting that milestone. Be forewarned though: this article will contain both spoilers of the existing "Saw" movies and totally fictional/intentionally humorous spoilers about future "Saw" movies. Please also note that I haven't seen "Saw VI," so that will remain completely unspoiled.
After the events of "Saw VI", current Jigsaw Mark Hoffman is left crippled and adrift in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He is miraculously picked up by a passing freighter returning from America on a Mediterranean shipping lane. After he is nursed back to health by the crew, Jigsaw proceeds to set up a series of deadly new tests for the crew on the high seas. Series fans cry out that the series has finally jumped the shark, a claim validated by the fact that one of Jigsaw's tests require the ship's captain to literally jump over a shark. The leap is unsuccessful though, so maybe there's more life in the series yet...
In an effort to revitalize the series by bringing in a new audience, "Saw VIII" is presented as an anthology. The first part is a montage of the entire "Saw" series to date, narrated by original Jigsaw, Tobin Bell. The second is a "lost chapter" of Bell's character John Kramer, showing one of his earliest brutal death trap gauntlets. His test subject in this sequence is a snooty waiter who was rude to Jigsaw at an Olive Garden. The final third sets up the future of the series with a new Jigsaw. After returning to America, Hoffman decides to turn his attention to the entertainment industry. His first test subject? DMX. Rather than play a fictional rapper, DMX plays himself in the universe of "Saw." Ever the survivor, the Ruff Ryder makes his way through his elaborate death trap, and becomes Jigsaw's new apprentice at the close of the film.
Prior to its release, it emerges that DMX Jigsaw is the single most hated character in history, eclipsing even Jar Jar Binks. Fans are shocked when they learn that DMX proves to be a pretty damn awesome Jigsaw. The only drawback is the barking when he does the creepy puppet voice. The film opens with a series of flashbacks showing Hoffman's ultimate demise: he accidentally shoots himself while setting up trap involving guns mounted on a Kia Sephia, meant as a test for a used car salesman. The film turns out to be the most traditional entry in years, with DMX testing unsuspecting folks while a couple of FBI agents tail him. It is considered by some, though not many, to be one of the best.
James Wan and Leigh Wannell return to create the tenth entry of their series. Despite the unexpected popularity of DMX as Jigsaw, the film is used as a way to return the original Jigsaw John Kramer to the limelight. Turns out he never died at all in "Saw IV"! He'd been watching Hoffman's, then DMX's development from the shadows all along. Kramer reveals himself, and his would-be successor is offended that he'd been spied on, so he decides to send the master through a test. After surviving a trap that involves an abandoned Wal-Mart, two tons of pudding, a giant crab made of razor blades, and fifteen nuns, DMX is dead and John Kramer has his name back. Feeling strangely depressed, Kramer hangs up the puppet for a vacation. A digital recorder is found lodged in DMX's brains by FBI agents. The one recording is of Jigsaw saying, "I'm taking a break. See you in a couple years when I'm all rested up."
"Saw vs. Hostel"
The annual sequels take a break in favor of an ol' fashioned match-up between the greats of torture porn! Jigsaw decided to go to Prague for his vacation. Guess what happens next? Yeah it's really gross. Really, really gross. Guest director Eli Roth says on the commentary of the DVD release, "I puked nine times during single day of shooting. It was awesome."