Saw Movie Series: Get Ready For Jigsaw With A Full Story Recap

Let’s see Saw.


The general rule of horror franchises is that, as the series continues, the plots get simpler and more repetitive, until the inevitable reboot which resets everything. Not so with the Saw series. What started in 2004 as a clever, gripping, but relatively modest thriller has, over the course of seven films, become a preposterously complicated narrative, with flashbacks, parallel subplots, recurring characters, twists, turns, and head-spinning callbacks. Jigsaw is the eighth movie in the series, and it hits theaters this week. But with a seven year gap since the last movie, 2010's Saw 3D, fans could be forgiven for not really remembering what the hell has happened so far.

The only true way to make sense of where we are is to sit through all the previous movies--which, conveniently, are now all on Netflix. But for those that don't have time, here's a recap of the essential elements of the story so far.

The main problem of attempting to chronicle the plot of the entire series is that so much happens out of sequence. Every movie contains flashbacks to scenes at different points on the timeline, with a variety of important events occurring before the first movie. So let's go from the very start.

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There are several key players in the Saw story, all of whom have some backstory that is revealed before the first movie kicks off. At the center we have John Kramer, also known as Jigsaw. Before he was a torture-obsessed maniac, Kramer was a morally responsible architect with an equally wholesome, pregnant wife called Jill, who ran a clinic for recovering drug addicts. But a robbery at the clinic led Jill to have a miscarriage, and soon after, poor Kramer discovered he has an inoperable brain tumor. He attempted suicide but failed, and then decided that his life should follow a darker course. He decided to use his remaining time to set up a series of gruesome games, each one designed to test his victims' will to live.

We also have Amanda, a recovering addict at Jill's clinic, who orchestrated the robbery. Kramer abducts her, and she survives his test and becomes his apprentice. Finally, there's Hoffman, a cop whose sister was murdered by her boyfriend, Seth. Hoffman learns about the so-called Jigsaw killer, and uses a Jigsaw-style trap to kill Seth. Kramer learns of this, abducts Hoffman, and blackmails him into becoming another apprentice.


Ok, got all that? Good. Now, onto the first Saw. The film centers on Dr. Gordon, the doctor who first diagnosed Kramer's tumour, and a man named Adam, who are two of Jigsaw's abductees and have been locked in a bathroom together, with a corpse on the floor. By the end of the movie, Gordon has sawn his foot off to escape, Adam has been shot and left to die in the room, and the corpse has stood up and revealed himself to be Jigsaw all along.

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Saw II

Saw II starts to introduce some of the other characters into the mix. We meet Hoffman, as he and Kramer abduct various victims and imprison them in the disused building known as the Nerve Gas House. There, the duo proceed to play a series of gruesome games upon their abductees, which also an undercover Amanda, Jigsaw's other apprentice. The movie ends with Hoffman renovating the Nerve Gas House, setting up new traps in every room.


Onto Saw III, and this is where things start to get really complicated, as the events of both Saw III and Saw IV take place simultaneously. It largely focuses upon a doctor named Lynn, who is placed in one of Jigsaw's traps (the shotgun collar) by Amanda and forced to perform life-saving surgery upon a bed-ridden Kramer. Both Kramer and Amanda die in this one, but don't worry, the games will continue!

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Saw IV

As mentioned, Saw IV takes place at the same time as Saw III. This movie provides a lot of Kramer's backstory, revealed by Jill in an interrogation with FBI agent named Strahm. It also focuses on a cop called Rigg who is obsessed with trying to save people, following his own encounters with Jigsaw in the second movie. Of course, he doesn't make it out alive, and the movie ends with Hoffman truly established as the heir to Kramer's insane work.

Saw V

OK, four movies down, three to go. Ready for more? In Saw V, FBI agent Strahm figures out that Hoffman is actually Kramer's apprentice, and finds the Nerve Gas House. Strahm and Hoffman confront each other; Hoffman is locked in a coffin, while Strahm is crushed to death. Meanwhile, Kramer's widow, Jill, receives a mysterious black box from her dead husband...

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Saw VI

We're getting there! Saw VI sees Hoffman given five more victims by Kramer from beyond the grave, their identities contained in Jill's black box. Unfortunately for him there is another name in the box--Hoffman himself. Having avoided the cops, Hoffman is caught by Jill, placed in a trap and left for dead. He manages to escape by tearing his face open. Eeeww!

Saw 3D

And… deep breath, just one movie left. Saw 3D sees the return of Dr. Gordon, who we learn was recruited by Kramer as an apprentice after the events of the first movie. Hoffman kills Jill with a trap, but Gordon catches him, and fulfils Kramer's final request by trapping Hoffman and leaving him to die inside the bathroom in which we started the series.

And that's it, so far! But if Jigsaw is a hit, expect this story to keep going, and going, and going. Ready to play...?

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