Spiral: From the Book of Saw is now obtainable for cheap digital rental and in varied home-video codecs, so any Saw followers who might need missed this mix reboot (with Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson) and legacy sequel (with Saw II-IV director Darren Lynn Bousman) in its May theatrical run can now be affordably disillusioned from the consolation of their very own dwelling. (Spiral’s first digital rental window opened in June, nevertheless it was initially premium-priced as a simultaneous theatrical launch.)
Though some followers might benefit from the try and revive the sprawling, difficult Saw franchise, or a minimum of may like Chris Rock’s early-movie tight 5 on divorce and Forrest Gump, Spiral doesn’t attain the heights of fan favorites Saw III or Saw VI. As the filmmakers insisted, it isn’t precisely Saw IX, nevertheless it isn’t precisely a brand new kind of horror entice, both. Fortunately, anybody out there for Not Quite a Saw Movie has loads of different choices obtainable — beginning with the latest Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, which sequelizes the unique 2019 Escape Room by making the premise play much more like Saw Junior.
There are an terrible lot of Saw imitators available on the market, profiting from that first movie’s low-budget, dirty aesthetic and elaborate deathtraps. Not all of those Sawalikes are as conceptually near the unique because the Escape Room sequel, however all of them supply extra fascinating variations on the collection’ acquainted tropes than Spiral, and collectively, they reveal that doing Saw higher than Saw has grow to be a cottage business over time. Hell, the Fast & Furious movies could possibly be thought-about a type of Saw spinoff, given how they’ve paralleled the collection’ splendidly wonky, ever-expanding later-period continuity. That mentioned, horror and horror-adjacent films have a tendency to supply the closest approximation of the Saw expertise. Here are seven strong films that play the Saw sport extra efficiently than Spiral:
The Escape Room collection
Sony clearly has its eye on a long-running B-movie saga with this PG-13 model of the house-of-traps subgenre. The first film units up a sequel, and the brand new sequel, like each the Saw collection and its Sony stablemate Resident Evil, instantly follows by way of on a number of the setup, whereas deferring different developments to as-yet-unmade future installments. It’s basically Saw with out the dirty self-help angle, although some horror followers will likely discover these just about gore-free options overly sanitized. But it’s enjoyable to see what Jigsaw might need labored up if he had a bigger working price range, and the characters, led by Taylor Russell’s Zoey, convey human emotion extra convincingly than a lot of the actors in Saw, whose home fashion includes lots of sweaty screaming. The first one is extra novel. Tournament of Champions has fairly typical sequel issues, in that it’s extra of the identical with out sufficient new wrinkles. They’re each briskly entertaining.
Escape Room is accessible to hire on Amazon, Vudu, and different platforms. Escape Room: Tournament of Champions is in theaters.
A brand new horror-tinged thriller starring Megan Fox premiered on VOD and some theaters in July with little fanfare, which is just too unhealthy, as a result of after an unpromising begin the place Till Death comes throughout as a somnolent marital drama, it kicks into gear: Fox’s character winds up in a distant cabin, handcuffed to a useless physique, with unhealthy males after her. The restricted location, occasional gore, and messages left for her from a vengeful ex-husband all have Saw vibes, even because the film is finally a bit extra cat-and-mouse hunt than endurance check. It’s additionally tightly directed by relative newcomer S.Ok. Dale, and whereas Fox is probably not up for a miserable relationship wallow, she’s aces on the over-it darkish comedy of dragging a corpse round as she evades cruel pursuers. Like the Escape Room collection, Till Death feels prefer it’s modifying components of the Saw cycle with out wholesale ripping them off. It additionally advantages from a metaphorical simplicity — a relationship as a near-impossible burden — that may be unthinkable within the tangles of pleasant however baffling Saw continuity.
Till Death is accessible for rental on Amazon, Vudu, and different platforms.
Spiral wasn’t the one 2021 mission to sorta-reboot a gory early-’00s horror film that unexpectedly turned a low-budget collection, although the Wrong Turn franchise was confined to DVD, and by no means reached the heights of the Saw saga. This is a blessing for the latest Wrong Turn remake; unbeholden to any explicit iconography from the unique 2003 movie, it’s free to riff on the fundamental young-people-menaced-by-country-folk premise (itself a ripoff of numerous different horror films) with an ingenuity that Spiral sorely lacks. Case in level: 2021’s Wrong Turn mixes in bits of Saw’s fellow class-of-2004 horror movie, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, in changing the same old cartoon-villain hillbillies with a secret, insular society unintentionally invaded by weary vacationers. Plus, there are traps — much less elaborate than what Jigsaw or his protégés put collectively, however nonetheless fairly gnarly.
Wrong Turn is streaming on Showtime and obtainable for rental on Amazon, Vudu, and different platforms.
The Saw films typically try (and generally fail) to supply trenchant social commentary by way of Jigsaw’s supposedly thought-provoking ironic ethical quandaries. The Platform doesn’t have a Jigsaw determine to moralize about humanity; its complete system is an indictment of ours. A person wakes up caught in a dirty room with a stranger, Saw-style, however the setting is extra of a Snowpiercer-like dystopia. He’s caught in a tower the place prisoners are fed by a descending platform. It begins out on the highest stuffed with immaculately ready foodstuffs, then slowly descends by way of dozens of ranges, as folks take what they need and depart progressively much less for anybody beneath them. (To maintain folks motivated, they’re relocated each month of their sentence, to allow them to almost starve one month, solely to dwell excessive on the hog the subsequent.) Sound acquainted? The film’s life-under-capitalism metaphor isn’t remotely delicate, however neither are the Saw footage, and The Platform is a extra provocative science fiction thought experiment than most of these.
The Platform is streaming on Netflix.
Another in a protracted line of travelers-menaced-by-locals horror films, Vacancy got here out in 2007, the identical yr as Saw IV. At the time, they didn’t appear a lot alike, and to make certain, that is extra of a normal horror thriller in some ways. There aren’t any soap-opera backstories, MPAA-testing kills, gravelly voices on microcassette, or sweating, hulking cops with ulterior motives. Yet the story of a bickering couple (Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson) who should navigate their manner by way of a motel rigged with entice doorways, murderers, and surveillance cameras echoes a number of Saw entries within the notion of working by way of interpersonal strife by way of a terrifying, limited-location ordeal. (And right here, not one of the video games, similar to they’re, seem like rigged.) Director Nimród Antal works with nice effectivity over his 85 minutes; his different style options, Armored and Predators, stray farther from horror, however are value in search of out, too. Vacancy additionally pulls off what Spiral makes an attempt with its addition of Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson: It courses up a disreputable style train with extra acquainted stars than the same old Saw lineup of B-and-C-list odds and ends. The ease with which Beckinsale and Wilson play their early marital-tension scenes make all of the working, hiding, and screaming play higher in a while.
Vacancy is streaming on Starz and obtainable for rental on Amazon, Vudu, and different platforms.
Though the remainder of these films all have some conceivable affect from the unique Saw or its sequels, Vincenzo Natali’s nasty 1997 indie sci-fi horror film Cube might be the collection’ closest progenitor. It follows a gaggle of strangers who get up collectively in a cube-shaped room, a part of an enormous, trap-laden maze. Naturally, a few of them will tear at one another almost as readily because the maze’s vivisecting mechanical horrors tear at them. It’s simple to image Jigsaw watching Cube as inspiration — a platonic commonplace of existential dread that his grubbier warehouse settings are continually failing to satisfy. Though that is clearly extra of a sci-fi story than Saw, it’s an analogous feat of filmmaking, because it creates nightmarish stress from modest, low-budget settings.
Cube is streaming on Kanopy, with an ad-supported model on Tubi, IMDB TV and different companies, and a rental model on Amazon, Vudu, and different platforms.