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Here Are the Best (Or Worst, Depending on Your Perspective) ‘Saw’ Traps

Alexa, play "Hello Zepp"!

Hoffman in the Reverse Bear Trap in Saw VI

Close your eyes and picture yourself waking up in a trap that may kill you. The Saw franchise is known for putting its characters through hellish traps and death games. All of that brutality remains seared in our brains and it’s not always because of the violence. Truth be told, a lot of the Saw traps are pretty cool and quite creative.

Across all the Saw films, there have been countless traps characters have endured or failed. But what traps are the best and how am I ranking them? I’ve decided to rank what I believe are the best traps by how brutal they are. Yes, every trap on this list is brutal in some aspect, but some are more brutal than others.

12) The Reverse Bear Trap

Listen, I understand the icon status that the Reverse Bear Trap holds and I love it myself. BUT when considering how quickly you die (unless you’re a determined person like Hoffman and escape it without keys), the brutality is solely in what happens to your face. Amanda (Shawnee Smith) is the first person to survive the infamous Reverse Bear Trap in Saw (2004). But the pain she endures is in having to violently stab a conscious (but drugged up) person to get the key out of his stomach. If the experience were slow then I’d be ranking this much higher, believe me.

11) The Needle Pit

The Needle Pit is an iconic trap in the Saw franchise and it’s because of how memorable it is. Poor Amanda (Shawnee Smith) is literally thrown in there by Xavier (Franky G) and is forced to find the key to unlock a steel door before it’s sealed indefinitely. It’s a terrible thing because the trap was meant for him and also who does that? There’s no risk of immediate death with this trap, so it’s not on the same level of brutality as other traps. But still, who the hell wants to end up in it? Maybe this is my own fear talking.

10) The Razor Box

The predicament that the Saw II (2005) victims were in was already dire enough. And ultimately it wasn’t looking great as far as survival goes. Addison (Emmanuelle Vaugier) was already delirious from the poison in her body and put her hands in the Razor Box to grab the antidote inside. Unfortunately, that was a fatal mistake on her part and she was left to bleed to death in a room by herself. It’s a horrific way to die especially when it could’ve been avoided altogether. But given how close to death you’d be already, it’s scarier than it is brutal.

9) The Shotgun Carousel

The chances of your death increase when you leave the fate of your survival in the hands of someone else. Saw VI (2009)’s Shotgun Carousel (it’s about as fun as it sounds) is so unique and nerve-racking the first time you watch the film. Protagonist William (Peter Outerbridge) is forced to choose only two survivors out of six employees. And those who aren’t chosen will be killed by a shotgun if William doesn’t press a button to stop the mechanism (injuring his hand in the process). It’s a frightening way to go and ultimately disturbing when you consider how a shotgun works. On a brutality level, despite it being a quick death, it’s not going any lower on the list.

8) The Death Mask

The first trap we see in Saw II (2005) is a lot similar to the Reverse Bear Trap in that it’s big on head trauma. But the Reverse Bear Trap doesn’t involve having to gouge out your own eye out to access the key to your freedom. Despite how Michael (Noam Jenkins) isn’t able to escape his trap, it’s quite gruesome to imagine what would’ve happened if he had even attempted to get the key. There’s something about eye trauma that already cements how brutal something will be. So that’s part of why I didn’t place this much lower as far as ranking goes.

7) The Water Cube

Drowning isn’t an easy way to go and many people fear drowning (especially those of us who can’t swim) or hate water. There’s no confirmation on whether or not Strahm (Scott Patterson) had any fears surrounding water, but he probably developed one after getting placed in this trap by Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) because he wouldn’t heed his warnings. The trap isn’t meant to be escaped (obviously, as there are no instructions) and Strahm was meant to die by drowning. He saved himself by performing am amateur tracheostomy with a pen he had in his pocket. It’s a scary trap and again, drowning isn’t an easy way to die. It’s certainly not the least brutal of the previous traps.

6) Grain Silo Trap

Dying in a grain silo is actually realistic because it can and does happen to people. Add a bunch of items that can absolutely kill you falling from above and you’ve got a one killer trap. Jigsaw (2017) may not be the best entry in the franchise, yet it’s got a few cool traps. The Grain Silo Trap combines the possibility of suffocation and sharp objects at the same time. Anna (Laura Vandervoort) and Mitch (Mandela Van Pebbles) survive with the help of Ryan (Paul Braunstein) who has to sacrifice part of his leg. It’s an all-round uncomfortable trap to watch unfold because of the unfortunate reality surrounding accidental deaths.

5) The Wax Trap

The Saw franchise has always been political and often points out how corrupt the justice, police, and healthcare system is. Spiral (2021) may not be everyone’s favorite, however, the deaths are all poetic as the victims are corrupt. Their designated traps, as well as their deaths, are symbolic. Angie (Marisol Nichols)’s trap involves being suffocated by wax and potential spinal injury. She doesn’t make it and ends up being waterboarded by hot wax. It’s a horrifying ordeal but is actually quite unique as far as traps go!

4) The Angel Trap

Kerry (Dina Meyer)’s death is really rough as she was doomed the moment she was put in the trap in Saw III (2006). The Angel Trap was rigged to kill her, regardless of whether or not she was able to retrieve the key from the acid beaker or not. Enduring the pain of putting your hand in acid is one thing, but to have your ribs ripped out and die in a dingy area is terrible. Not only is this trap an exercise in brutality on its own, but the fact that Kerry had zero possibility of surviving also adds to it.

3) The Finger Trap

The reason the Finger Trap ranks so high is that it’s brutal in a batshit way. This Spiral trap is determined to be as nasty as possible in its endgame. Fitch (Richard Zeppieri)’s past regarding shooting a man for insulting him is the reason he’s being tested. Poetically, the Finger Trap involves him biting down on a device that will pull his fingers off one by one. He dies because there’s an electrocution aspect to the trap that hinges on him allowing his fingers to be torn off. Electrocution is about as fun as you expect.

2) The Glass Coffin

There’s no arguing that Saw V (2008) has an incredibly intense ending and the Glass Coffin is fucking spectacular. It’s a personal favorite and is brutal enough to rank this highly. After a tension-filled cat-and-mouse between Strahm and Hoffman (ship them or not, their scenes are entertaining), it all leads to Strahm dying because he couldn’t trust Hoffman or listen to the whole tape. Strahm’s death is excruciating to think about because he’s literally crushed to death by metal walls. The coffin itself is ironically what keeps the person who enters it alive. And the individual who stays in the room after the coffin locks is the victim. Being crushed to death is level 10 brutal.

1) The Rack

Yikes on ten thousand bikes, the Rack is one of the most painful traps in the entire Saw franchise. Saw III isn’t my favorite, but it’s hard to forget the disgusting results of the Rack. Jeff (Angus Macfadyen) is one of my least favorite Saw characters and ultimately his test isn’t the most fun to watch. All of his anger regarding his son’s death by way of a drunk driver isn’t far-fetched. Once he comes face to face with Timothy (Mpho Koaho), the man who killed his son Jeff takes too long to attempt to save Timothy and he dies by having his limbs twisted and then his neck snapped. It’s a trap that would make almost anyone cringe upon witnessing it.

(featured image: Lionsgate Films)

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Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a queer Blerd and contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She first started writing for digital magazines in 2018 and her articles have appeared in Pink Advocate (defunct), The Gay Gaze (defunct), Dread Central and more. She primarily writes about movies, TV, and anime. Efforts to make her stop loving complex/villainous characters or horror as a genre will be futile.