I hope you folks enjoyed my Halloween/Hellraiser 30th anniversary retrospective for this year. But I have a Halloween bonus for you. See, I was deciding which of two franchises to do a retrospective on as one franchise had a new film out while the other marked an anniversary. Seeing as this year marked 30 years since the release of the original Hellraiser – I decided to go for that one. However, I was also planning on doing a retrospective on the Saw franchise. And just as with my Hellraiser retrospective – I sat down to watch all of the films and made notes along the way. I didn’t really want to do two retrospectives, so what can I do with all the notes that I made?
It was while making my Saw notes when I began to think about the chronology of the series as the films don’t follow a linear timeline. There are flashbacks within sequels, prequels in flashbacks that are sequels and just plain old sequels….with prequels and flashbacks. Its a confusing timeline to follow… but follow it I did. So here, I’d like to present the chronology of the Saw series of films as best as I understand it
Now, full disclosure here. I’m not a big fan of the Saw franchise. Loved the first flick but personally found they just get pretty dull and predictable from Saw II onward. There are fans out there that think the Saw plot-line is amazing and deeply complex (it really not) but that is a whole other article. So not being a huge fan, I’ll most probably make more than a handful of mistakes along the way. But before I get to the chronology, for those that say the plot of the Saw films is complex – I’ll attempt to disprove that right now. I’ve not seen the new flick – Jigsaw. But I bet I can tell you the plot (or get pretty damn close to it) without watching the film itself…
Okay, so Jigsaw sees the return of the main man himself John Kramer/Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) who most definitely died within the timeline of the other films. So I’m calling it now – its a prequel. Then by the time the film ends, you’ll discover that Jigsaw had some kind of super secret protégé carrying out his work and it’ll most probably be one of the investigating police who are trying to catch the person who is responsible for the trap-like deaths.
Why do I think that… because that is how all the Saw films work from Saw II onward – the plot is not that complex or surprising as they use and re-use the same twists and plot points over and over and over through the entire franchise. Its just not told in a linear fashion, which is where the ‘confusion’ come from – but the plot itself is straight forward and obvious. If I’m wrong then I’m wrong – but I’ll watch Jigsaw when it hits the home market just to see how right (or wrong) I am…
Anyway, enough of all that crap. With the aid of my many notes and some research and huge help from a Saw wiki – lets crack on with the chronology for the franchise…
So there is this detective, Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) who fakes the evidence in a few of his cases which results in the arrest of Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith).
Another detective, Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) and his partner, Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent) are investigating a teacher with a penchant for violence and has been abusing his own daughter. The teacher gets off with thanks to his lawyer Art Blank (Justin Louis).
Marks’s sister is murdered by her boyfriend Seth. Mark enters a state of depression and anger while Seth is sentenced to life imprisonment.
Mark shoots a former mental patient who is attacking officer Matt Gibson (Chad Donella) – despite the fact the patient dropped his weapon. Mark earns a promotion despite the fact Matt reported him over the previous incident. Matt convicts several of Mark’s colleagues who swears vengeance.
Civil engineer John Kramer (Tobin Bell) designs the Gideon Meatpacking Plant – his first building.
John’s wife Jill (Betsy Russell) opens a centre for drug addicts – The Homeward Bound Clinic. Amanda becomes a patient at the clinic.
William Easton (Peter Outerbridge) is an insurance company manager for Umbrella Health who sponsors a party for Jill’s The Homeward Bound Clinic. Through this, William meets and gets to now John, who quizzes him about his questionable commercial practices.
Jill becomes pregnant with her and John’s son, who is set to be born during the Chinese year of the pig. John shows Jill his new workshop, and presents her with a cot and a wooden puppet for their soon to be son. John becomes the leader of the Urban Renewal Company. He and his lawyer, Art team up on a project for new housing for families in need.
Amanda convinces fellow patient, Cecil to pull off a robbery at Jill’s clinic. This results in an accident where a door is slammed into Jill that causes her to miscarriage. After his unborn son’s death – John falls into a pit of severe depression which has him withdraw from both Jill and the project he was working on with Art. This kick-starts a rift between the two.
Doctor Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) diagnoses John with an inoperable brain tumour.
John learns about an experimental therapy and asks the insurance company manager William, to cover the treatment costs – he refuses. This results in a rift between them.
Suffering from depression and not seeing any way out – John attempts suicide by crashing his car – but survives the incident. From this, he learns to become a survivor and decides to spend the rest of his life on testing other people’s will to survive. He separates from Jill to carry on his ‘work’.
John’s his first test involves Cecil, who accidentally killed his unborn son. The ‘test’ does not go well and Cecil dies. John cuts a jigsaw piece out of Cecil’s flesh, which leads to the press labelling him the ‘Jigsaw Killer’.
Mark Hoffman kidnaps his sister’s killer, Seth and murders him in a Jigsaw-like trap. He then cuts a jigsaw piece out of Seth’s skin in an attempt to frame the real Jigsaw killer and keep himself out of suspicion. John manages to work out that Mark killed Seth and forces him to help set up future games and traps.
Meanwhile, special agents Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) and Lindsey Perez (Athena Karkanis) are investigating an arson attack – which the FBI eventually gives up on.
John places Doctor Lawrence Gordon’s penlight at the scene of his next crime. Lawrence is arrested but has an alibi, as he was cheating on his wife at the time. Amanda is abducted by John and put into one of his traps, she becomes the first person to survive on his tests.
John convinces Amanda to becomes his next apprentice.
Detective David Tapp (Danny Glover) and Detective Steven Sing discover John’s secrect hideout Steven is killed by John while David survives – but he suffers a major breakdown and is let go from the police force. Convinced Lawrence is behind the murders, he vows to keep a close eye on him.
Jill learns of John’s secret as the Jigsaw killer. But John shows off a drug free Amanda as proof that he is doing good work… unorthodox but good.
David hires photographer Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) to spy on Lawrence as he tries to gather evidence to prove he is the Jigsaw killer.
Zep Hindle is tested by John, as he hides in Lawrence’s apartment and holds his wife and daughter hostage while Adam takes a photos of him from afar. Lawrence Gordon is then kidnapped and brought to an abandoned underground bathroom. Adam is also kidnapped by Amanda and brought to the same place. John poses as a dead body in the same room.
Lawrence hears on the phone his family in a shootout with Zep, while David hurries to the scene to free them. Back in the underground bathroom – Lawrence saws off his own foot to escape and shoots Adam (but not killing him) before leaving. David follows Zep to the bathroom but is shot and killed. Adam kills Zep, while Gordon escapes and promises to find help for Adam.
John stands up, and locks Adam in the bathroom to die.
John tracks down the escaped Lawrence and convinces him to become his third apprentice.
Amanda returns to the bathroom from Saw and mercy kills a slowly dying Adam.
Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery) writes a book claiming he survived one of Jigsaw’s games and milks the fame for as long as he can. The thing is… its all a lie as Booby was never a Jigsaw victim.
John gives his executor a black box which he asks to be given to Jill in case of John’s death. The box includes a tape for Lawrence along with a modern version of one of John’s most infamous contraptions – the Reverse Bear-trap, which is intended for Mark Hoffman.
Mark and John abduct various people who were convicted by detective Eric Matthews and placed in a nerve gas trapped house, along with Matthews’ son Daniel, and an undercover Amanda.
Everyone except Amanda and Daniel die as John locks Daniel away in a safe at a nearby steel plant. A video broadcast of the game’s recordings is prepared at a fake nerve gas house, almost identical to the other. The detective trio of Eric Matthews, Daniel Rigg and Allison Kerry (Dina Meyer) find the steel plant, and Eric soon learns of his son’s situation. They see footage of the other house, not knowing it’s merely a recording.
Eric beats John, until he agrees to reveal where Daniel is. Eric leaves John to go and save his son. Daniel finds the fake nerve gas house and discovers the game has already finished. Eric discovers the infamous the bathroom from Saw but is locked inside by Amanda.
Allison finds Daniel alive at the steel plant.
Eric escapes the bathroom by breaking his foot. He has a fights with Amanda, who subdues him and leaves him to die.
But Mark Hoffman discovers Eric and manages to nurses him back to health. He also removes all the bodies in the nerve gas house of Saw II, and completely renovates the building. He sets up another trap in a different room connected via an underground tunnel. Mark interrogates Jill, after police discover the Jigsaw killers true identity. She is represented by lawyer Art Blank, and police discover Jigsaw’s items at her house. Art is abducted and survives a test, but remains under the control of Jigsaw.
So here things get s little ‘confusing’ as the two films events happen at the same time…
Detectives Mark Hoffman and Allison Kerry investigate Jigsaw’s latest crime scene. Amanda abducts Alison with Mark’s help, and Alison evetually dies. Amanda then places Daniel Rigg’s fingerprints on the corpse. Mark sends a key with a cryptic note to special agents Peter Strahm and Lindsey Perez. Along with a message which claims that two officers are in danger.
Jill pleads with John to stop playing his twisted games. John gives her the key to his black box. Amanda and Mark abduct several people and take them to the Gideon Meatpacking Plant. Art abducts several other people at the same time too.
John gives abductee doctor Lynn Denlon (Bahar Soomekh) the instructions for her test, while Amanda is putting a ‘shotgun collar’ trap on Lynn which would kill her if Kramer dies. Amanda doesn’t realise that his instructions are also meant for her.
Mark places Eric in another trap, and poses as a victim. Amanda forces Lynn to perform surgery on a slowly dying John. She succeeds, but Amanda has a breakdown.
A SWAT team led by Peter Strahm head to Daniel’s apartment, locating planted photos of victims, as well as of Jill. Peter interrogates Jill, which reveals more about John’s past. Daniel arrives at a school and finds a photo of his wife, leading him to the Gideon Meatpacking Plant.
Special agents Peter Strahm and Lindsey Perez find that a crime scene was rented by Art Blank, as well as another building that he owns. They are led to the school, and find a tape that warns Lindsey that Peter will soon kill an innocent man. She is injured by a shrapnel bomb. Lindsey gives the key from Allison Kerry to Peter. He makes the connection between John and Art, and heads to the plant.
Art reveals that he, Mark and Eric will survive if Daniel doesn’t enter their room. He does so, and Eric is killed.
Amanda argues with John, and shoots Lynn. Lynn’s husband Jeff Reinhart (Angus Macfadyen), who has also been completing his own set of tests, arrives and shoots Amanda, killing her. He slashes John’s throat, which in turn kills Lynn. He discovers a tape about the whereabouts of his missing daughter. Peter arrives, and shoots Jeff in self defence.
Daniel shoots Art, before Mark reveals himself to be Jigsaw’s accomplice. He locks Daniel up – leaving him to die. Mark also locks Peter inside the same room in which John, Jeff, Lynn and Amanda all died.
Peter Strahm discovers a secret door, but is subdued by Mark Hoffman. He then manages to escape a trap that was meant to be inescapable. Mark takes Lynn and Jeff’s daughter Corbett Denlon (Niamh Wilson) outside, where he is met by police. Peter is taken to hospital while Mark is declared a hero. Agents Dan Erickson and Lindsey Perez fake the latter’s death.
A tape is discovered inside the body of John Kramer. Mark hears the tape, telling him there will be more games including his own test in the future. Jill receives John’s black box after his death as requested.
Mark Hoffman prepares a game for the people connected to the arson which Peter Strahm and Lindsey Perez were investigating a few years earlier. Mark receives an anonymous letter, and he believes it is from Peter. When he visits him, Peter tells him that he believes Mark is John’s accomplice.
Peter steals files about Jigsaw’s victims, and learns of Mark’s sister’s death, and her killer’s subsequent murder. Mark tells Dan Erickson of Peter’s accomplice theory, before Dan discovers the files are missing. Peter returns to the room in which John died.
Jill visits Dan and says she is wary of Peter, while Mark rings Dan using Peter’s phone and hangs up. Mark then places the phone in the surveillance room of the current game.
Peter finds the nerve gas house from Saw II and the underground tunnel network. Mark enters and they have a fight. Peter locks Mark in a coffin. However, he accidentally activates a trap and dies.
Dan Erickson finds Pete’s phone and the surviving members of the game, and orders an APB on Pete Strahm.
Mark Hoffman finds Pete’s dead body, and takes his severed hand.
Pamela Jenkins (Samantha Lemole) learns of Jill’s black box and receives a copy of Mark’s letter to Amanda. Meanwhile – Mark uses Pete’s severed hand to plant fingerprints on his latest trap.
Dan Erickson and Lindsey Perez arrive at the crime scene, and are joined by Mark Hoffman. Dan tells him about Peter’s fingerprints, and why they faked Lindsey’s death to keep her safe.
Pamela tells Mark about the black box and asks for an interview with Jill.
A coroner discovers that the knife used to cut the jigsaw piece from the latest victim is different to all other victims, other than Seth (the man Mark killed before joining up with John). Dan and Lindsey seek to find if the tape at Seth’s crime was recorded by someone other than John Kramer.
Mark visits Jill and demands the envelopes from the box, in order to start William Easton’s game early. Jill secretly holds one envelope back. William is abducted and taken to a zoo, where several other people have been captured. He receives instructions from John (before he died).
Pamela gives Jill her copy of Amanda’s letter, but Jill doesn’t want to talk. Jenkins is then abducted by Mark, and taken to the zoo, where she watches her brother, William’s progress.
Dan realises that Peter must have been dead by the time of his latest ‘crime’, but he doesn’t tell Mark.
Jill leaves an envelope containing a tape from John for Lawrence Gordon – which asks him to watch over Jill. Jill heads to the zoo with the bear-trap in the black box, and the sixth envelope.
After discovering that the voice on Seth’s tape from years ago is in fact Mark Hoffman, he kills Dan and Lindsey, and then plants Peter Strahm’s fingerprints all over the crime scene, before setting fire to the lab.
Jill places the letter she received from Jenkins in Mark’s surveillance room. He returns and finds it, before Jill electrocutes him. She then places the bear-trap on his head.
William Easton dies during his final task, which in turn activates Mark’s trap. Jill leaves Mark to die without giving him a chance to escape. However, he is able to escape by jamming the trap between the window bars and ripping his cheek open.
Mark Hoffman escapes and takes the bear-trap with him.
Jill asks for Matt Gibson (Chad Donella) and tells him about Mark being Jigsaw’s successor, and offers him all the evidence in exchange for immunity, which he agrees to.
Mark Hoffman continues his games, and sets one up for Bobby Dagen at an abandoned mental facility. After another game, he sets a bomb, and drapes his bear-trap along with a message for Matt..
Speaking at a self-help group for Jigsaw survivors, (fake story writer) Bobby receives a sarcastic applause from Lawrence Gordon. Bobby, along with his wife and others who helped him fake the story are abducted by Mark to take part in another game.
Mark finds Jill at a safe-house, and sends a CD to Matt Gibson. He offers to end Bobby’s game in exchange for Jill, but he denies him. Mark Hoffman takes one of his latest victim’s corpses out of its body bag, and hides inside which is then taken to the morgue.
Matt Gibson manages works out where Bobby’s game is being played out, and sends a SWAT team over, while he goes after Mark. After realising Mark has infiltrated the police station, Matt is killed by an automatic machine gun. The SWAT members are also killed by a booby trap. Everyone apart from Bobby Dagen are killed during his game.
Mark kills several people at the station, before he is stabbed by Jill. He beats her up and kills her using the infamous bear-trap. Mark Hoffman is now hunted by the police. He tries to flee, but is attacked by Lawrence Gordon, who fulfils John Kramer’s final request by locking Hoffman inside the bathroom from Saw without any chance of escape.
The end, game over… eventually!
So there you have it the entire plot of the whole Saw film franchise (with the exception of Jigsaw)… I think.
Happy Halloween folks!