Although people who aren’t fans like to claim Saw is nothing but enjoyment for sickos, that’s not really the case as the series has a rich storyline to follow if you overlook all the gore involved. There were over 50 traps in the series, so we have a lot to choose from in terms of which were the best and worst.
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For the ‘Good traps’ list, we’ve considered both the viewership entertainment factor and the philosophy behind Jigsaw's reasoning for the victims in the traps being implemented. The bad ones are those that didn't offer much value as far as Jigsaw's engineering skills were concerned, or were just plain lazy.
10 Worst: The Knife Chair
This being Jigsaw’s first trap, it wasn’t that elaborate. He was aiming to go for revenge rather than reason and designed the knife chair that way. Cecil needed to push his face into the knives before him so he could be freed from his restraints; he did so very painfully.
Why this doesn’t work out so well is because Jigsaw didn’t put much effort into it. The chair was so weak that it literally collapsed rather than left Cecil play out his game. In actuality, the game ended because Jigsaw didn’t design it correctly. Even after Cecil was out, Jigsaw goaded him to pounce at him and then become entangled in barbed wire. All in all, the fact that the trap itself broke makes it a weak one.
9 Best: Reverse Bear Trap
Although this trap was unfair to Amanda’s cellmate, it was a great trap because it showcased the high stakes involved in a Saw trap. It was also beautifully ironic as Jigsaw placed the key to the reverse beartrap in the stomach on Amanda’s dealer, which meant she had to literally cut away out and escape to a better life.
The beartrap itself was a thing of brilliance as it was simple but very effective. When the time ran up, so did the jaw of the victim; it was a great display of the engineering skills Jigsaw possessed.
8 Worst: The Needle Trap
This was when Amanda’s plan backfired as Xavier’s trap was played out by her. The reason why the Needle Trap isn’t good is because it gives way for someone else to play the game rather than the one it was intended for.
As it happened, Amanda was dropped in a pile of needles and sifted through to find the key to the safe containing the antidote. It was also ludicrous how Jigsaw even got his hands on the number of needles in the first place. Add in the fact that the needle trap could’ve also been used by multiple people safely, had they had the good sense to do so, making it a trap that can be tampered with far too easily.
7 Best: The Coffin
Although we loved Peter Strahm, he went out the best way possible: being beaten at his own game. Strahm was the smartest protagonist yet, and the coffin trap involved him being duped into failing his game.
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The trap’s engineering was also superb the walls of the room were connected to the glass coffin in the room; when the coffin was closed it would be lowered to safety while Strahm would be crushed by the walls. This was a display of awesome engineering at the part of Jigsaw and combined both skills with the anticipation of the human mind. For gore fans, it also treated them to the sight of Strahm turning into a human pancake.
6 Worst: The Razor Box
The Razor box feels so insignificant that the trap didn’t even have its tape played out before it commenced. In actuality, Addison wasn’t even supposed to be the one playing as it was meant for Gus, who got shot before proceedings began.
This trap isn’t great because of how nonsensically simple it was compared to the other traps. All the person had to do was use one hand to get the antidote through the glass shards while using the other hand to avoid the shards from trapping the first hand in the box. Had there been at least two people, or someone smarter than Addison, then there wouldn’t have been any challenge. This was far too simplistic.
5 Best: Barbed wire Trap
This one also combined the best of Jigsaw’s philosophies and skills together. The victim had a fair shot as he could do nothing and die, as he originally wanted, or traipse around a room filled with barbed wire for the escape.
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The trap looks simple, but isn’t; it looks easy, but isn’t that either. This is what makes it so great because the victim has to do endure agony to survive, while he could try and avoid that pain and mess up his survival. Watching the trap play out was frightening as well as the victim’s screams and desperate attempts filled the air. Barbed wire really makes for an effective tool to use in a Jigsaw trap.
4 Worst: Horsepower Trap
Jigsaw’s traps are meant to symbolize what the “problem” his test subjects had. The horsepower trap was supposed to show the skinheads the error of their racist ways, but the trap they were in failed to symbolize this.
It didn’t help that the fate of everyone was in one guy’s hand, who had to pull on his own glued skin to release everyone, but the trap was also far too elaborate to symbolize anything. When the tap was lost, one guy was run over, one had his arms and jaw ripped off, and was crushed. The trap didn’t have any genius behind it; it was all based around a motor, which doesn’t rank high on Jigsaw’s imaginative ways.
3 Best: The Spike Trap
Even simpler and effective than the barbed wire trap was the spike trap, which saw an astounding display of the capabilities of the human body. It had a couple impaled with spikes in specific regions; the wife had to pull them out to survive while causing the husband’s death.
It was a stupendous thriller before us as we saw a seemingly impossible decision come to pass and the wife took the spikes out. The trap illustrated the justification that Jigsaw isn’t an outright killer as it was all up to the wife whether she wanted to live alone dire with her husband. She was scared to look at it as the result was also a bloody affair as we saw the husband slowly succumb to the spikes being pulled out.
2 Worst: Eric Matthews' Test
Here’s the easiest test any character ever had. From an in-universe standpoint, Eric Matthews had a piece of cake in his hands.
All he had to do was listen to Jigsaw prattle about how smart and cool he is for around two hours and Eric would’ve had his son returned. The boy was literally right there in the safe next to Eric, but Jigsaw wanted to talk about how ingenious he was for a couple hours while making Eric believe his son was in danger. This is the worst trap because it’s not much to go on. All we saw was two people talking. There was no excitement, no physical threat, and nothing to set the adrenaline pumping.
1 Best: The Bathroom
The bathroom trap is the most iconic from the franchise and takes top spot because of how psychological it was. The rules had Lawrence locating any way to live and for Adam to survive somehow.
The smartness behind the trap was the many clues sprinkled around the bathroom, with the most popular one being the two saws. Oh, and Jigsaw himself was lying on the floor in front of them the whole time. Just this bathroom trap made up for the whole first Saw film and there was so much going on in that one room. The number of escaping possibilities: the saw, breaking one’s foot, using a gun, poisoned blood and cigarettes, among others; also the number of people involved, with Zep watching from afar. It never got smarter than this.