Film Review: SAW X (2023): Tobin Bell is Back in a Horror Film That is a Few Cuts Above the Rest

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Tobin Bell Saw X

Saw X Review

Saw X (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by Kevin Greutert, written by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger and starring Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Synnøve Macody Lund, Steven Brand, Renata Vaca, Octavio Hinojosa, Jorge Briseno, Costas Mandylor, Michael Beach, David Alfano, Katie Barberie, Lucia Gomez-Robledo and Donagh Gordon.

Director Kevin Greutert brings the Saw series back to life with the splatter fest, Saw X. Tobin Bell reprises his role as mastermind John Kramer who sets traps that are ingenious but also twisted and deranged. However, these traps serve very specific purposes in terms of teaching the people who play these games lessons. In order to survive, these game players need to follow the rules of the very sick “challenges.” There are plenty of these games/traps in Saw X but the movie plays best as a thriller rather than a horror movie. Despite bucket loads of gore, there is some substance to this new Saw movie.

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The plot is set somewhere between the events of Saw I and Saw II although you don’t really have to have seen the first Saw movie to follow the story line. As the new movie begins, Kramer is told he doesn’t have much time to live and because of his cancer, he joins a support group. He meets a man named Henry (Michael Beach) at the support group and is informed, later on, by Henry that there is a secret miracle cure for cancer that can work wonders. Intrigued, Kramer is more than willing to pay tons of money to get in on this great news.

Kramer meets Cecilia Pederson (a well-cast Synnøve Macody Lund), a blonde woman who is a mastermind, herself, and is behind this scam that reels Kramer in. There are plenty of twists in the plot that shouldn’t be revealed here. It’s safe to say, though, that Kramer figures out that the whole miracle cure is bogus and takes to a revenge plan that involves each player of the miracle cure scam, including Gabriela (Renata Vaca) who had welcomed him to the secret location where “treatment” was conducted on him.

The traps take flight in true spirit to the other films in the franchise. The eyeball one that is advertised most is one of the less clever ones, however. One really intense one involves radiation with Gabriela trying to break free of shackles so she doesn’t get burnt by this radiation. The one that takes the prize, though, is where a key character literally picks his brain. I won’t say anything more but it’s as gory as these traps come.

Back on board to help Kramer is the always intriguing Amanda (Shawnee Smith) who is more than willing to take on the tasks she is assigned to help him fulfill his fair but wicked plan to make those involved pay. Cecilia is also a key player in the action alongside Parker (Steven Brand) who may or may not be devoted to the tough-as-nails Cecilia who may just beat Kramer at his own game.

Even a child named Carlos (Jorge Briseno) is brought into the action as Cecilia makes the choice to try to go after Kramer, herself when an opportunity arises. The scene with Carlos and Kramer fighting for their lives on a very bloody trap is one of the most intense sequences in the picture.

Bell is absolutely terrific. Although it may have helped if they de-aged him a little more for the role, Bell keeps the solemn nature of his character intact while swinging a swift stick against those who betray his trust. Smith is also good although her performance here isn’t as memorable as it was in previous Saw entries.

Expect to hear the tense theme music from the series towards the end and stay put for a mid-end credits scene that brings back a real surprise that will be of interest to fans of the other pictures in the franchise. The in-between end credits scene is specific to this film with a key character from the other movies making an appearance.

Saw X is overlong at almost 2 hours but will keep the audience captivated thanks to the work of Bell who is at his best in this performance. Though the traps don’t always work as well as they could have, these movies always have had scenes that are hit or miss. This movie’s games hit, for the most part, but aren’t as ingenious as some of the others in the previous films until Cecilia finds herself caught in a surprise trap that will definitely delight viewers.

It is best to have a strong stomach to sit through Saw X. That brain picking scene is not going to move popcorn but the movie is a quality one that keeps the thrills of the series alive. Where does this film rank in terms of overall quality on the Saw movie timeline? It’s probably the fourth best of the franchise which is actually surprising considering they’ve done so many of these movies. Bell makes it all worthwhile in the end.

Rating: 7/10

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