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The 10 Worst Traps in the Saw Movies (and How to Beat Them)

It's time to play a game.

By Matthew Jackson

For nearly 20 years, the Saw films have been making viewers cringe and cover their eyes as Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and his followers unleash death trap after death trap on unsuspecting victims. Now, as we prepare for the arrival of Saw X later this month, we're turning to Peacock for a marathon of the first seven films in the legendary horror franchise. And of course, that got us thinking: Which traps in Jigsaw's long history are the absolute worst?

So, if you're ready to squirm in your seat, let's take a look back at 10 of the most brutal traps in the entire Saw series, and examine how you're meant to get out of them... if you have the stomach for it.

Saw's Most Brutal Traps and How to Escape Them

The Reverse Bear Trap

Perhaps the most iconic game in the entire Saw franchise, the Reverse Bear Trap made its debut in the very first Saw film back in 2004, and has since appeared several times in various incarnations. The trap itself is very simple: There's a device locked around your head on a timer, and if it goes off before you can unlock it, it will snap open like a bear trap in reverse, ripping your skull apart. To get out of it, all you need is the key... which is where the problem comes in. In its first appearance, Jigsaw's eventual protégé, Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith), gets the key by cutting open a man's stomach and retrieving it from his entrails. Of course, other victims weren't quite so lucky. 

RELATED: The Saw Timeline Explained

The Pit of Needles

Saw II went bigger, because of course it did, and in the process the film put poor Amanda through yet another test of pain and determination. The Pit of Needles is simple: It's a pit, full of needles, specifically syringes that may or may not be sterile (we're betting not). Somewhere in all those needles is a key to get you out of the room, but to find it you have to get down in there and rifle through all the sharpness. This trap wasn't meant for Amanda, but she got through it anyway, because she knew the only way out was to scream her way through all those needles. 

The Scalper

In Saw IV, an unsuspecting police officer (Lyriq Bent) is given 90 minutes to escape Jigsaw's clutches, all while being tested with threats disguised as opportunities to help someone. The first of these involves a woman who is caught in a mechanism that will slowly rip her scalp off her head over the course of 60 seconds. The catch, though the cop doesn't know it, is that the woman will attack him in fear if she's freed. The other gruesome twist, of course, is that this trap is not designed for you to escape yourself. You need help, or you're losing your head.

The Glass Coffin

Sometimes in the Saw franchise, a trap is simply designed to kill someone, with no chance for them to save themselves and thus have a new lease on life when they finally get out of Jigsaw's clutches. This is increasingly true once Jigsaw successor Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) takes over the games, and in Saw V that leads to an especially unforgettable conclusion for the film. The game is simple: There's a glass coffin in the middle of a room, and a tape tells you that if you get into it, you'll be safe. Seems straightforward, but coffins and Jigsaw don't seem like they'd mix, so the FBI Agent (Scott Patterson) pursuing Hoffman makes Hoffman climb into the coffin instead. Then, in a cruel twist, he has to watch as the coffin is lowered into the floor, safe from harm, while the walls of the room around him close in and crush him to death. Simple, but very effective, particularly if your goal is to, you know, crush someone. 

The Shotgun Carousel

In Saw VI, Jigsaw's wrath turns to an unscrupulous insurance salesman, who gets to take the lives of his subordinates into his hands, literally. The shotgun carousel is a game designed so that only two people can survive, but six people are strapped to the mechanism. If the insurance salesman allows his hand to be impaled by a device, he can save someone, but he only has two hands, so he has to choose, all while his employees and friends are strapped to the carousel, waiting to be blown away by a shotgun that goes off at timed intervals. It's absolutely brutal, and there's no way out that doesn't involve suffering for everyone.

The Pound of Flesh

Speaking of Saw VI, there's the film's opening trap, which is to-the-point, efficient, and brutal. Two people are locked in a room, with devices strapped to their heads that will drill into their brains in 60 seconds. The solution? Slice off a literal pound of their own flesh and place it on a scale before time is up. The solution here is straightforward. You just have to be willing to lose something, and fast.

RELATED: This Week in Genre History: Saw wanted to play a game

The Shop Window Saw

Most of Jigsaw's games unfold behind closed doors, without the benefit of an audience to watch the carnage. That wasn't the case in Saw 3D, which opens with one of the wildest games in the entire franchise, complete with a crowd of horrified onlookers. The film's first game unfolds in the window of a hardware store, where a love triangle –– two men and one woman –– is united in pain. They're all strapped to the same device, with each of them facing a spinning saw. The woman in the middle will be cut in half by her saw in 60 seconds, unless one of the men pushes hard enough to drive another saw into the other man. The kicker? Both of these men have been two-timed by the woman, so they can either compete to save her, or just let her die. Whatever the choice, someone is getting carved up. 

The Glue Car

Watch the Saw movies long enough, and you start to get numb to certain kinds of violence. Then, out of nowhere, the movies do something that makes you squirm in your seat so hard you might have to pause the movie and leave the room. In Saw 3D, we get perhaps the most squirm-inducing (for me personally) trap in the whole franchise. A white supremacist (played by the late Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington) is sitting in a car in an abandoned garage. All around him, his friends are stuck in different traps that will engage in 60 seconds. All he has to do is reach forward and pull a lever to stop it all. The trick? He's glued to the car seat, his bare skin stuck to the upholstery so tightly that he'll have to rip it all off if he hopes to save anyone. I don't know what else to say but, Thanks I hate it

The Laser Collars

Jigsaw is a guy who doesn't necessarily rely on super high-tech devices to make his plans work out. He's got timers, gears, and determination, and generally that's enough to make it work with the help of a closed-circuit audiovisual system. Sometimes, though, he gets more elaborate, and in Jigsaw we get to see the killer deploy actual cutting lasers to deliver one of his most gruesome devices yet. As the name implies, the laser collars are collars strapped around the necks of victims, each with several lasers mounted in a circle. According to Jigsaw, you can get out of the device if you accurately confess your sins, after which he'll deactivate the collar. Fail to own up, though, and your head will be sliced into wedges like a pie. 

Tongue Tied

Kicking things off with a memorable opening game has become a key feature of the Saw franchise, and Spiral: From the Book of Saw opens with a doozy. A detective (Dan Petronijevic) is abducted and then suspended in the middle of a subway tunnel... hanging by his tongue, with a flimsy stool under his feet. If he kicks the stool away, the trap will rip his tongue out, but he'll be able to get free and escape. Escape what, you ask? Why, the oncoming subway train that will definitely kill him if he doesn't have the courage to lose his tongue, of course. It's devious, it's brutal, and of course it ends spectacularly.

Saw films 1-7 are now streaming on Peacock.