If you like your horror movies with blood, guts, and a healthy dollop of gore, then you will have no doubt come across the Saw movies. The series – about a killer named Jigsaw who puts his victims into elaborate death traps – contain lashings of gore, endless entrails and an ever expanding collection of contraptions.

In short: The Saw films are all about killing off victims in new ways, while making sure that each death tops the one that came before it. The films are unapologetically violent, surprisingly complex, and they have a strong following.

But how many Saw films are there and in what order do they need to be watched? Well, in this post I will provide answers, because when it comes to the Saw series, the viewing order is VERY IMPORTANT.

Hey, this ain’t no game.

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The Saw short

Image: ©Lionsgate Films

OK, before I look at the Saw series I must first make mention of a live-action short that precedes all of the movies. This short is:

Saw 0.5 (2003)

But what is Saw 0.5?

Let me explain.

When Saw co-creators, Leigh Whannell and James Wan were trying to get a Saw feature film off the ground, they needed to convince a studio to back it. The best way to do this was to boil Saw down to its basic premise (someone caught in one of Jigsaw’s traps) and then film it.

Utilising a very small cast (including Whannell himself), Whannell and Wan put together a nine-minute short to sell their idea to movie studios. Although the short was rough around the edges, Lionsgate Films liked what they saw in the mini-movie and this led to the first feature-length Saw film being given the green light.

So technically, the Saw series begins with Saw 0.5, rather than a feature length movie. But, do you need to watch it?

No.

If you are curious to see Saw 0.5 you can track it down on the uncut DVD/ Blu-ray release of Saw (2004). However, the short was designed as purely a promotional piece only, so is not part of the movie series and does not fit into the events that follow.

Speaking of which…

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The Saw movies

Image: ©Lionsgate Films

OK, onto the main series now, which began in 2004 with Saw.

In this first entry, two men wake up in a dank bathroom. The men are chained to opposite sides of the room, with no knowledge of how they got there.

In the middle of the room is a body, as well as a tape recorder. In their pockets, each man has a cassette.

Upon listening to their cassette tapes, one man is told he should try to escape the room. The other man is told to kill the first man, or his family will die.

Over the course of 100 minutes, the movie jumps back and forth in time (and place) to reveal details about each man – who they are and why they are in this situation. The film also introduces the mysterious Jigsaw, played by Tobin Bell, the orchestrator of this deadly game of cat and mouse.

Image: ©Lionsgate Films

Employing a simple premise, as well as a small budget, Saw was released around Halloween 2004 and was a huge hit for Lionsgate films. So much so, that a sequel, Saw II was quickly put into production for release around Halloween the following year.

Saw II picked up shortly after the events of Saw, and followed a new set of characters who found themselves in one of Jigsaw’s games. Tobin Bell returned to the role of Jigsaw aka John Kramer, while Shawnee Smith who had a small role as Amanda Young in the first movie, was brought back as a Saw-survivor (with a secret).

Once again, Saw II was a big hit for Lionsgate, paving the way for Saw III which was released the following year. This entry furthered the story, bringing back both Bell and Smith, while introducing Costas Mandylor as Detective Mark Hoffman – a new character who would play a huge role in the series moving forward.

Without sounding like a broken record, Saw III was yet another hit, which led to more entries – Saw IV, Saw V, and Saw VI. Each film arrived one year after the other, and each intertwined with the previous entries, creating a large, often confusing jigsaw puzzle of a movie series.

These later entries delved even deeper into the past of John Kramer, to explain the reasons as to why he became Jigsaw. The films also explored his relationships with Amanda Young, Mark Hoffman, and his ex-wife Jill Tuck, played by series regular Betsy Russell.

In 2010, a seventh entry was released under the title of Saw 3D. It was billed as The Final Chapter and was envisioned as a way to wrap up the series.

But as is often the case with successful horror franchises, The Final Chapter wasn’t the end for the Saw films, it was merely a brief resting point. In 2017, an eight entry hit cinema screens, this time under the name of Jigsaw.

Jigsaw was designed as a jumping on point for newcomers. The previous seven entries were so strongly connected, that a new approach was needed and the film would provide the way in.

Making sure not to ignore the past, yet still take the series in a new direction, the film focused on John Kramer rather than the larger cast of characters from the series. It included yet more elaborate traps, and more buckets of gore, and was another financial hit.

Due to the success of Jigsaw, a ninth entry entered production for release in 2020.

If you wish to watch the Saw* movies in order, then view them as follows:

  • Saw (2004)
  • Saw II (2005)
  • Saw III (2006)
  • Saw IV (2007)
  • Saw V (2008)
  • Saw VI (2009)
  • Saw 3D (aka Saw: The Final Chapter) (2010)
  • Jigsaw (2017)
  • The Organ Donor (2020)

So, how important is this viewing order?

VERY IMPORTANT.

I can’t stress this enough: If you decide to watch the majority (or all) of the Saw films, you MUST watch them in order. IF you opt not to, they simply won’t make any sense.

Saw can be watched on its own, and to a certain extent so can Jigsaw, but Saw II through Saw 3D are so tightly linked that it is pointless watching them in any order other than the one above. Trust me.

*Oh and it should be noted that most of the Saw films have been released to home video as extended/uncut/extreme editions. These releases simply add more gore/running time, so they are not essential to the story.

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Production order

Image: ©Lionsgate Films

And finally, if you wish to watch all of the Saw movies in production order, including the non-canon short, then use the following order:

  • Saw 0.5 (2003)
  • Saw (2004)
  • Saw II (2005)
  • Saw III (2006)
  • Saw IV (2007)
  • Saw V (2008)
  • Saw VI (2009)
  • Saw 3D (aka Saw: The Final Chapter) (2010)
  • Jigsaw (2017)
  • The Organ Donor (2020)

And should you wish to visit or revisit the Saw series in all its gory glory, all of the movies are currently available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital. Lionsgate Home Entertainment has released a Blu-ray boxset of eight movies (Saw through to Jigsaw) called Saw: The Legacy Collection.

Along with eight movies, the boxset includes a range of special features. Saw: The Legacy Collection is reasonably priced for the amount of movies in the set and is available to purchase from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

OK, that’s your lot on Saw. Now, who wants to play a game?

Perhaps Monopoly?

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