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Saw X gets the series back on track

The highly profitable franchise, Saw, returns to the big screen in Lionsgate's Saw X, with director Kevin Greutert at the helm. Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger pen the script. From 2004 to 2010, horror enthusiasts flocked to movie theaters every October to witness the latest Saw film and the sinister actions of John Kramer (Tobin Bell), also known as the Jigsaw killer.

Set between the events of the first two films, a sick and desperate John travels to Mexico for a risky and experimental medical procedure in hopes of a miracle cure for his cancer with the help of Doctor Cecillia Pederson (Synnove Macody Lund) and her team. However, John quickly discovers the entire operation is a scam to defraud the most vulnerable. Armed with a newfound purpose, John returns to his work with the help of freshly minted apprentice Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith), turning the tables on the con artists in his signature visceral way through a series of ingenious and terrifying traps.

The series supposedly came to an end with 2010's Saw: The Final Chapter, which provided closure to the series; however, given the film's box office, a sequel, or reboot was bound to happen, as every horror fan knows, The Final Chapter subtitle never seems to sick. In 2017, filmmakers The Spiering Brothers attempted to revive the franchise in the film Jigsaw with a time-shift storyline like in the previous Saw film. Four years later, the Chris Rock-led Spiral hit theaters. Both films had a lukewarm audience & critical response.

Thankfully, Saw X has a returning team of veterans behind the scenes who, for the most part, get the series back on track. Tobin Bell humanizes John Kramer in an organic fashion that we want to root for his character. Scream Queen vet Shawnee Smith also delivers a solid performance as Amanda, and I wouldn't mind seeing her character explored more.

The Saw films have always been about the victims who must repent for their sins, and in the latest movie, the victims are taken out in an excellent, gruesome manner. Outside of Michael Beach, the studio and the director use unknowns, adding more tension as the cast gets picked off individually.

While Saw X has its strengths, it also has some weaknesses. One drawback is its nearly two-hour duration, which could have improved pacing. Furthermore, certain characters were not adequately fleshed out, and while you can predict their grisly destiny, a bit more complexity in their personalities would have been welcomed.

Although there are a few minor issues, Saw X is worth watching. I credit the writers for creating a believable ending and exploring John Kramer's backstory. The Saw movies are either loved or hated by viewers. Saw X doesn't introduce any new concepts, so if you're not already a franchise fan, this film won't change your opinion. Nonetheless, Saw X is a refreshing new beginning for what was once a promising series.

Final Grade : B

Saw X is in theaters now

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