Whether you’re a passionate John Kramer devotee or a haughty cinephile dismissing Jigsaw’s legacy as so-called “torture porn,” the “Saw” franchise absolutely got to you. Yes, you.

Back in theaters for the 2023 Halloween season, James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s indie shocker-turned-big budget ringer redefined splatter films for the post-9/11 masses and kicked off a resurgence that led to Eli Roth’s “Hostel,” Rob Zombie’s “The Devil’s Rejects,” Tom Six’s “The Human Centipede,” and more. Its notorious gore drew in the eyeballs of not just dedicated genre fans but also countless looky-loos too scared to go beyond the surprisingly dense “Saw” summaries on Wikipedia.

You can bet those same people will be back to devour every morsel of “Saw X,” director Kevin Gruetert’s third at-bat for the series (he also helmed “Saw VI” and “Saw 3D”), starring OG Jigsaw Tobin Bell and set between the events of “Saw” and “Saw II.” You know, from before “Saw III” and “Saw IV” turned Kramer into hamburger meat and forced us down an endless path of time shifts and copycat killers.

Most people know “Saw” for its exceptionally graphic formula. Pig-masked kidnappers — sometimes Kramer, sometimes not — abduct people for not living their lives up to his exceedingly high (read: dumb) standards. When the victims awake from their druggings, they find themselves placed in traps designed to make them fight for their lives. They’re instructed by video tape, audio recorder, and/or the instantly iconic Billy the Puppet to “make your choice.” Chop off your arm/gouge out your eyes/rip the skin off your back — or it’s, you guessed it, game over. Offenders range from a serial rapist to a battered woman sticking by her abusive husband to a skilled doctor taking antidepressants. Philosophy, it must be said, was never John’s strong suit.

It’s not all just blood and body parts though. Behind that appalling premise, you’ll find nine (soon to be 10!) films chockfull of wacky character lore, melodramatic police procedurals, some of the funniest transitions in horror history, some of cinema’s most surprising twists, and endless fodder for the kinds of film conversations extreme horror fans love. The franchise started with a bang, delivering a film every Halloween between 2004 and 2010 before taking a seven-year hiatus. The Spierig Brothers’ soft reboot, “Jigsaw,” marked a low point for the franchise; thankfully Chris Rock turned it around with the shockingly great spinoff, “Spiral,” in 2021.

Where will this undeniable cultural behemoth take us next? Ahead of “Saw X,” IndieWire has tirelessly puzzled over the franchise’s ranking to deliver a solutions-oriented guide to surviving a watch-through. Spoilers abound but don’t punish us for it. You’re the one not living life to its fullest.

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