How Does The "Spiral" Compare To "Saw"?

A look into Spiral and whether it being from the book of Saw is enough for it to stand among the Saw movies.

I have been watching the Saw movies for years and I have made it a habit to rewatch all of them as soon as fall is on its way. But, this year, the arrival of Spiral forced my rewatch to be earlier and I am not at all upset about it.

I have had a long-standing list of the Saw movies ranked and I remember how happy I was to be able to add the second-most recent movie, Jigsaw, at a place so high up on the list, and I was excited to watch Spiral and add it into my list of rankings.

Did Spiral measure up?

Spiral did a great job of maintaining the themes and inventions of Jigsaw without having any direct ties to John Kramer like all of the others. Since it wasn’t a direct Saw movie, but “From the Book of Saw”, I wasn’t sure whether to expect the same kind of gore and twisted moral scenarios or see something completely different.

I knew it was going to be exciting to see Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Rock in a movie together that wasn’t a comedy, and even though Jackson was in it less than I expected, the element of having two big-name actors was enough hype to get other people interested besides established fans of the Saw franchise.

Despite the big-ticket actors starring in the movie, I wasn’t even aware there was another Saw in production until around March of this year. The movie was originally set to be released sometime during the beginning of the COVID epidemic, so it was delayed, but that makes it even more strange to me that I didn’t hear anything about it earlier.

Nonetheless, it ended up being a good movie in my opinion and it was great to see in theaters.

With Spiral being established as a success, here is the complete list of the Saw movies ranked, with one being the best:

9. Saw III

saw 3 iii amanda game
Image Source: Common Sense Media

Although this has one of my favorite games in the franchise, upon rewatching, I remembered that the gore was at an all-time high in a way that I couldn’t even look at the screen during some of the scenes.

I know it was the point to highlight that Amanda and her inventions were more violent than necessary and she was too emotional to be in control of the games, but it was a little too much for me to handle.

My sister and I really enjoyed the plotline of the main game in this movie, but the violence of all of the other tests was a little too extreme and didn’t adhere to Jigsaw’s “morals”.

I really didn’t see the ending of the game coming and it still throws me off sometimes, but I love that Jigsaw was able to estimate so many of the characters’ actions and to set the game up so they could really only win if they all worked together, while he chose people who unknowingly already worked together to stage an incident resulting in the loss of multiple lives.

It’s twisted seeing what he basically makes people do to survive as consequences for their actions, but it can also be so entertaining to watch.

8. Saw IV

saw iv 4 donnie wahlberg strohm ice game
Image Source: Chichester News

Seeing Gilmore Girls’ Luke Danes (Scott Patterson) in the Saw franchise originally surprised me a lot, but I was also rooting for him to catch the bad guy for the entirety of the movie but to no avail. He was able to survive his first Jigsaw test, despite it being designed to be impossible.

It was nice to get some more of John Kramer’s backstory and also to see Jill come back into the present storyline. This movie was also just a little high on the gore level without much appeal to the audience, although it was obviously intended to show Officer Hoffman’s violence and anger streaks taking control of the games.

Knowing the writer had a purpose in including this level of gore does make it more worthwhile to watch, but it also disturbs me a little to know we’re supposed to feel especially uncomfortable during his games.

7. Saw V

saw v 5 scott patterson agent strohm luke danes jigsaw test
Image Source: Letterboxd

No ending made me angrier than this one. It just goes to show that every character has a lot of flaws and that it doesn’t seem too difficult for an individual like Jigsaw to anticipate and take advantage of those.

Officer Mark Hoffman has to be my least favorite of John Kramer’s apprentices, so seeing him succeed at anything really irks me. I actually yell at my screen at the end when Agent Strahm doesn’t get into the glass box as his tape told him to.

The number of times I get angry at the characters in this franchise for not just listening closely to Jigsaw (and sometimes taking things very literally instead of assuming he’s trying to trick them) is way too many for my liking, and he was one of the characters I liked the most so I was especially invested.

6. Spiral

chris rock spiral saw movies
Image Source: The Hollywood Reporter

I already talked about my feelings toward this movie, but measured against the others, it was around the middle. Although it was missing some of the elements I like about the others such as tying into previous events, it still is able to hold its own in the franchise with a good suspenseful plot and without too much gore.

It felt more similar to the original with its small amount of jump scares and high-quality creepy inventions and tests for a specific group of targeted people.

The experience of seeing it in the theater was also really great since I hadn’t seen any other Saw movie in that setting. Plus, since it was my first time back in movie theaters since COVID, it was even more of an exciting experience.

Overall, I was a little disappointed in how little they used Samuel L. Jackson, but I still think the movie itself had a high-quality, intricate plot with a surprise ending.

5. Saw II

saw 2 ii jigsaw room trap safe
Image Source: GOAT Film Reviews

I absolutely loved this movie for being the first one to really play with how they show the audience the timeline, and sometimes it still tricks me at the end even though I’ve seen it so many times.

It still has the shocking effect of knowing there are so many connections between Jigsaw seeking vengeance, but also using all of their own moral shortcomings against them and creating a thorough game to test everybody involved.

Of course, seeing Jigsaw actually predict what certain people will do in a situation, like two of the men wanting to try out the door that says it’s not an exit, is astounding and if he was a real person instead of a character, I would be simultaneously impressed and frightened by his ability to read people.

This is another one of the movies where I just wish the characters would actually listen to what Jigsaw says. If a door says it isn’t an exit, then it isn’t an exit and you probably shouldn’t try to get out that way. If he says your game is to talk to him, then keep talking to him.

If Detective Matthews would have just stayed in the room instead of trying to find where the game was being played, his son would have been able to go home safely with him instead of getting trapped inside of not one, but two more games across the movies.

4. Saw VI

saw 6 vi insurance jigsaw roulette game
Image Source: Netflix

This movie was full of good tests, with people it is obvious John Kramer picked out himself as some kind of revenge. Although he would argue otherwise, I still believe Jigsaw holds grudges and uses them as an excuse to play god in their lives by placing them inside of tests.

This was one of Jigsaw’s more intricate “games”, which makes sense given it was the one he decided to pass on to Hoffman (and Jill) after his death, so it must have taken a lot of work to execute.

I had high hopes for this movie that Hoffman would be outed as a Jigsaw accomplice, but that didn’t exactly happen. The police were able to get close, but they should have never trusted Hoffman with any information because he took full advantage and got rid of any witnesses.

My hopes were even further lowered when we saw that Jill didn’t succeed in completing Jigsaw’s final test for Officer Hoffman and that he was able to outsmart the impossible test he was put into.

3. Jigsaw

jigsaw movie first game test
Image Source: Collider

This movie has my absolute favorite opening game out of all of them and it ties into the original movie, which is something they had seemed to avoid doing for a while. I always love the story of a wounded family member who thinks he has some reasoning for creating (or in this case, recreating) his own game.

It, again, maintains the normal element of a Saw movie by not showing us the whole story until the reveal at the very end. This one was a little bit different when it did so, though, because he was recreating the original Jigsaw game and we were being shown both Jigsaw’s game and the recreation simultaneously.

The homages to the original movies and claiming there was a game even before the ones we had been shown previously really made an impact, and having such a big plot twist at the end makes it a very successful post-Saw movie.

2. Saw I

saw movie cary elwes
Image Source: The Movie Rat

It’s hard to beat the original suspenseful, plot-twisting, and not overly complicated storyline. There was enough going on to keep us especially interested and everything ends up coming back to the “first” trap, so it is essential to understand and follow this movie closely.

It also sets the tone for all of the dark and almost blurry editing throughout the rest of the franchise, which keeps the early 2000s vibe going. The amount of gore was also just enough to introduce how it will be for the rest of the movies, while also keeping it tame enough for people to be able to pay attention to and enjoy the actual plotline.

This movie was so good that it has not only launched a nine-movie franchise, but it continues to be referenced in each of these movies because the writers and creators have only made the plotline more complete over time.

1. Saw VII (Saw 3D)

saw vii 7 jigsaw 3d final chapter
Image Source: FlixList

This movie broke my heart a little, but also brought a lot of closure to the franchise. This installment also included my favorite guest star, Chester Bennington from Linkin Park, and even though that test was brutal to watch, it was also a nice homage to some of the much earlier group games.

I had kept hoping Dr. Lawrence Gordon was going to come back, and I have always been so happy he did. It really goes to show just how thoughtful the writers and creators are that he was the surgical and medical skill behind so many of his games throughout all of the previous movies.

I had been wondering about how Kramer knew how much pain his inventions could inflict before they were lethal, but I just leveled it to him being an intelligent man. Although that is also true, it makes so much sense that he had more than just a couple of angry people looking for vengeance working for him.

The plot of this movie also makes so much sense to the extent that I think this would actually happen if Jigsaw was real. Also, we finally got to see the invention originally used on Amanda be set off fully, even though it wasn’t on a person I wanted to see it done.

I was happy to finally get some closure in knowing that none of Kramer’s accomplices survived to continue his legacy.

The Saw movies all rank amongst my favorite movies of all time, and it’s the moral questions being raised that keep the movies so interesting and make me want to recommend them to everybody. I really just want to know how the writers and creators even come up with the concepts of all of these tests and the complicated relationships between almost each and every character.

I believe it’s the perfect blend of leaving things up to interpretation while also surprising its audience with twists that fill in the gaps from earlier installments.

With gore that had only been seen in Final Destination, the Saw franchise took things a step further to see how far an audience could be pushed while still keeping them intrigued and invested in the characters we see throughout multiple movies.

If there end up being more movies released in the franchise following Spiral, I will definitely be seeing them in the theaters and cannot wait to see more.

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