HOLLYWOOD—I am going to say something that might be slightly controversial, I have been a fan of the flicks of the “Saw” franchise. I find them slightly ingenious. A villain tortures his prey based on morality. I mean who has ever thought of that. The first movie was stellar, that twist at the end left me flabbergasted. The body on the bathroom floor was John Kramer (Tobin Bell) all along. Didn’t see that coming a million miles away, however, I thought “Saw II” was ever better.

The writing for the first two films is so clever and twisted you immediately get sucked into the narrative. After those flicks there was an up and down seesaw with the rest of the movies in the franchise with a notable exception for “Jigsaw” which I thought was quite entertaining, but that “Spiral” it didn’t deliver that punch as I think the people behind the other flicks in the franchise had hoped.

However, all of that is forgiven with easily the second-best flick in the franchise with “Saw X.” Yes, we’re 10 movies in and you’re probably thinking wow, this feels like the “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th” or “A Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise, but you’d be wrong. None of the flicks in the “Saw” franchise are terribly bad compared to some of the movies I just mentioned.

With that said, this is kind of a sequel, but not really. It falls between “Saw” and “Saw II” with our nefarious villain, Jigsaw (Bell), seeking treatment for his terminal cancer after being diagnosed. The plot setup immediately sucks you in. A man looking to have another chance at life gets hope after running into a familiar face that he bonded with during a cancer grief meeting.

He seeks out this retreatment in Mexico where he is under the impression that the advancements in medicine might deliver him a cure that traditional medicine just hasn’t discovered yet. All appears well, all looks well, but John soon discovers after the surgery, it is not what he thought, it was a scam. Oh, this makes John, oops Jigsaw angry and he implements a series of traps to teach a valuable lesson to all of those involved.

Now I still don’t love the gore factor in these movies, but I can slightly give it a pass because I can understand the methodology to them. With that said, oh, the traps this time are vicious. One person has to navigate a contraption to prevent his eyeballs from being sucked out while having his fingers broken; another has to perform brain surgery with no anesthesia on himself, another has to saw off a leg, while other is forced to cut off his own flesh to prevent a bomb from severing his arms.

Yes, the traps are more intricate than ever, but it is not the traps that keep you intrigued, it’s the narrative. I was sucked into this movie from the moment it started until its twisted climax. I have always been a fan of the shaky camerawork depicted in the movie when our subjects have to find a way to escape these wicked death traps. Is escape possible? Without a doubt, but it comes at a cost, which is something Jigsaw and his protégé, Amanda (Shawnee Smith) knows all too well. The thing is you don’t have time to think about what you’re going to do. Do it now or you will likely pay the price with your life.

What gets me every time watching one of these movies is how the clues to the puzzle are all laid out throughout the movie, but you have to pay attention as a viewer. You blink and you’ll miss something crucial that is ultimately explained, and your brain goes, “Ah, ha, that makes perfect sense.” With the solid writing of “Saw X” I can totally see a “Saw XI” and a “Saw XII.” How they go about crafting the narrative that is another question people.