Best Saw Traps: We Countdown the franchise’s gnarliest moments

Last Updated on April 4, 2022

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Spiral: From the Book of Saw is in theatres right now, and to mark the occasion we here at Arrow in the Head have decided to take a look back at the previous eight films in the Saw franchise to compile a list of the Best Saw Traps. There were many traps to choose from, but the idea here was to narrow it down to the best trap (or trap scene) from each individual movie. Check out our picks below, and let us know what your favorite traps were in the comments section.



Of course this one had to make the list, since it’s the most popular trap in the entire franchise and the one most strongly remembered by the general audience. The reverse bear trap caught so much attention when it showed up in the first film, they brought it back in a couple of the sequels. The first time around, the trap was on the head of Shawnee Smith’s character Amanda Young, hooked into her upper and lower jaws, a timer counting down to the moment when the trap would snap open and tear her head apart. It’s no wonder this concept got stuck in people’s minds, despite the fact that Amanda gets out of it. It took three tries on three separate victims in three different movies, but eventually the filmmakers showed what this trap would do to somebody when it goes off in Saw 3D.


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There are a lot of cringe-inducing traps in the Saw movies, but this is one that manipulates a common phobia in an effort to get under the skin of as many viewers as possible: Jigsaw tasks one of his victims with climbing into a pit of glass syringes to search for a key. Making this sequence even more difficult to endure, the character doesn’t climb into the pit themselves to try to do this as carefully as possible, they forcefully toss another character (a barefoot one, of course) into the pit in their place, so the person is instantly stuck with multiple needles and cut with broken glass. The pain they feel is a pain the viewer can clearly imagine.


This wins the prize of being the Most Disgusting Trap in the entire franchise. Plenty of traps in the Saw movies have gross results when they go off, but the repulsive thing about this one doesn’t have anything to do with damage being inflicted on the body of the person strapped into it. This trap finds a man stuck at the bottom of a vat as the corpses of rotting, maggoty pigs are dropped into a large grinder, their decaying flesh and putrid guts spewing all over him. There’s also a heavy emotional element to this trap, as the person drowning in liquefied pig is a judge who gave a lenient sentence to the drunk driver who killed the young son of Jeff Denlon (Angus Macfadyen). Jeff is watching the judge go through this ordeal, and the only way he can save the man is by burning the possessions of his dead child.


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The Saw IV knife chair earns a spot on the list due to the fact that it was the first trap John Kramer (Tobin Bell), a.k.a. Jigsaw, ever made. Built so John could get revenge on Cecil Adams (Billy Otis), the criminal who caused his wife to miscarry their child, this one involves the victim being bound to a rickety wooden chair with a device holding eight knives in front of their face. Their arm and leg restraints will open if they push their face far enough into the knife blades. This trap scenario doesn’t play out smoothly, the chair completely crumbles under Cecil, but even Jigsaw had to start somewhere. After this, some of the traps created by him and his disciples got unbelievably complex.


While Jigsaw would usually give his victims a chance to escape from his traps, his disciples Amanda and Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) had a tendency to create traps that weren’t meant to be escapable. This is one of those. In design, it’s not very impressive. The victim gets their head stuck in a glass cube that quickly fills with water. What makes this trap memorable is the badass method FBI Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson), the closest this series ever had to a potential hero, uses to get out of the predicament: as the cube fills with water and he realizes there’s no way out, he pulls a pen from his pocket and gives himself a tracheotomy. This may be the coolest moment in any Saw movie.


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Jigsaw and his disciples would often demand that the people in their traps cause themselves great bodily harm to get out of the traps, and this is quite an extreme example of that. Simone (Tanedra Howard) and Eddie (Marty Moreau) are provided with a knife and a meat cleaver and told that if they don’t remove a pound of flesh from their body, they will be killed when the device attached to their heads drills screws into their skulls. So they start hacking and slicing at themselves. Another impressive thing about this scene is how good Howard’s scared and pained acting is, considering she won the role by competing on the reality show Scream Queens.


Another trap that earns mention through its degree of cringe. Nina (Naomi Snieckus) is restrained in a straijacket and sat down in the middle of a contraption that pushes four spikes toward her neck every time she screams above a certain decible level. To release her, her associate Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery) has to pull the fishing line she has been forced to swallow back up out of her mouth. There’s a key at the end of the line… plus a fish hook that scrapes its way along Nina’s stomach and esophagus as Bobby pulls on the line. This would have been cringe-inducing for many viewers even if it was just Bobby pulling the line out of Nina’s stomach without the hook being on there, but imagining the hook slicing into her on its way up makes this scene very uncomfortable to watch.


The franchise goes super hi-tech with this trap, which feels like it should have been saved for Saw X, when the series goes to space. Brad Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) and Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) are both fitted with metal collars that have seven powerful lasers attached to them. These lasers start out being blasted straight up, but gradually turn inward toward Brad and Logan’s heads. If they can’t get Jigsaw to shut off the lasers and release them from the collars, their heads will be sliced into seven pieces. The laser collars earn a place on the list because who ever thought a Saw trap would include frickin’ laser beams?


A bonus entry for the original Saw! At the core of James Wan’s Saw was a very simple set-up: Adam Stanheight (writer Leigh Whannell) and Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) wake up in a dirty restroom, each of them chained to pipes by one ankle. They’ve both been provided with hacksaws to help them get out of their shackles. It’s an idea lifted right out of the end of Mad Max, but Saw caught the attention and captured the imagination of movie-goers with Gordon’s trailer line, “He doesn’t want us to cut through our chains, he wants us to cut through our feet.” With that, the simple, familiar idea launched a franchise. 

Do you think these are the best Saw traps? If we didn’t include some you thought were gnarly, list them below!

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.