There are two types of people: one who can’t stand the bloody image of the Saw films, and the other who both love the brutality and the psychology that is present in these movies. Saw isn’t all torture as people believe, with plenty of stuff present to think about.
There are several other films in this genre that have similar themes to the Saw films, and these are separated either by the amount of scares and blood in them, or by the thriller aspect that has us wanting to figure out who the bad guy is. If you happen to enjoy the formula that Saw efficiently portrays, then these 10 films should be next on your watch list.
10 Misery (1990)
A writer suffers a car crash in a sparsely populated area, where his savior turns out to be a psychotically obsessed fan who doesn’t plan on letting him leave. Misery is the film that brought Kathy Bates her well deserved Oscar, as she scares up the screen throughout her appearance.
It has just the two actors as the main cast, but its minimalist setting is what makes Misery so scary. You’ve got the antagonist playing mind games with her captive, as she forces him to write her a manuscript while simultaneously torturing the poor man. It is also a cat-and-mouse style film, with the protagonist attempting to figure out a way to escape, as the story culminates in a violent and brutal fight for survival.
9 Untraceable (2008)
You want to know the extremities that come with social media and internet fame? Untraceable shows us the awful implications as the story features a young killer whose obsession with gaining viewers leads him to murder his victims in a variety of ways, that he broadcasts live over the internet.
As you know, Saw features traps of its own that progressively became more imaginative; in the same way, Untraceable has its traps go along with the theme of the kill as the antagonist looks to play around with the police hot on his trail. The kills can get pretty unsettling, and the chase ensures there’s never a dull moment.
8 Hostel (2005)
This isn’t the thinking man’s movie, and all the entertainment is right there in front of you. Hostel is extremely hard to watch, to the point that even huge horror fans will probably turn off due to the grotesque brutality of the killing on display.
There’s basically no story, as two young travelers come across a town in Europe, where their attempted debauchery takes a horrifying turn as they find themselves in a torture house. Hostel pulls no punches as far as the violence is considered; you’ll be seeing blood, hear ear-shattering screams, and feel like vomiting on more than one occasion. Still, if guys out there like over-the-top gore, then this is like the crown jewel for them.
7 The Strangers (2008)
A young couple returns home to find themselves being stalked by three masked killers, resulting in a struggle to survive against antagonists whose motives are unknown. The Strangers has a simple premise, one that is bolstered by the scares that are presented not in gruesome ways necessarily, but in an eerie package.
Like it was with the first Saw, it is the mystery behind the villains’ identity that ups the ante with the spookiness, with the killers never revealing who they are and only looking to derive pleasure from hunting the main characters. The blood flows when it’s time for it, but for the most part you’ll have your heart in your throat over what move the bad guys might make next.
6 Se7en (1995)
If you grew up in the ‘90s or early 2000s, then you know very well the screaming line of “what’s in the box!?”, as Se7en was revolutionary for its time. The plot follows a deranged killer who looks to keep the cops on the hunt by using the seven deadly sins as the main theme behind his horrifying acts.
Within the film, we see the murders play out in colorful ways, as the protagonists unravel the central plot, while having to deal with the consistent and bloody killings along the way. Saw also brought in themes as a way of presenting its traps in later films, and it was Se7en that this did first.
5 Scream (1996)
Sure, it’s a slasher film, which makes it a rather departure from the more slow-moving Saw films, but there’s also the fact that Scream films always feature a "whodunnit" premise, something Saw, Saw II, Saw IV, and Jigsaw also featured.
It makes things scarier when you don’t know who’s behind all the violence, and each Scream movie manages to pull that off with a tried-and-tested formula. For those who don’t know, the story revolves around a girl named Sydney, who is central to a number of killings around her vicinity as a mysterious “Ghostface” killer looks to wreak havoc.
4 Would You Rather (2012)
Several guests are invited to a party by a mysterious benefactor under the guise of a charitable reward, only to find out this insane man intends to make them play a sick game of “Would you rather”, with only one guest allowed to live.
It’s like a condensed version of Saw, as the film retains just the one setting, and the guests die one by one until there are only two left in the climax. There’s not much else other than witnessing the torturous ways that people die in the movie, although there is a sense of excitement in trying to figure out who would be the one to survive.
3 You're Next (2011)
A family (along with the girlfriend of one of the members) reunion goes bloody when a number of masked killers begin both stalking and slaying everyone by trapping them in a mansion. You’re Next is like Saw in the limited cast setting, as we see a number of people thrust together in a confined environment.
What it does different than other horror films, though, is empower the protagonist to ridiculous lengths. Seriously, you’ve never seen a main character this strong, as she kills the antagonists in weird (and often funny) fashion, with the viewer being confused by the end as to whether it’s the bad guys who are in danger or the main character.
2 Devil (2010)
Fun fact: the creators of Saw originally envisioned trapping the main characters in an elevator before deciding on the bathroom. Devil shows us what might have been, as the film is exclusively told by having its cast be confined within an elevator.
Like it with this kind of theme, we are left to wonder which one of these guys is the killer, with characters dropping violently over the course of the movie. Unlike Saw, Devil has a supernatural element attached to it, as it becomes clear that the devil itself is out to kill these people, whose awful pasts qualify them for reckoning.
1 Exam (2009)
Technically, this movie isn’t even a horror film; however, it has a pretty striking resemblance to a Saw film. We witnessed in Saw II how a group of people had to band together to find an antidote, and Exam has a group of people attempting to figure out the answer to a question in order to walk away with a grand prize.
The film is told in real time, as an hour-and-a-half spirals out of control, with the main characters shedding their dignity to uncover the secret. The performance of the cast is phenomenal, and the film has you thinking throughout its run. It delivers a twist in the finale almost the same as the one we had in Saw, putting the cherry on top of a worthy thriller.