Is Saw X based on a true story?

Daisy Phillipson
Still from the Saw X trailer

Is Saw X based on a true story? It might not be a question that comes to mind when thinking about the Saw franchise, but it’s an interesting idea nonetheless – so, here’s what you need to know about if the movie is rooted in reality. 

Horror history was made in 2004 when director-writer duo James Wan and Leigh Whannell unleashed the first ever Saw movie into the world. The fictional character of John Kramer, aka Jigsaw, is different to other horror killers in that he never directly murders his victims, but instead puts them in elaborate and gruesome traps, often forcing them to inflict pain upon themselves or others in order to escape.

These traps serve a dual purpose: to punish those Jigsaw believes are wasting their lives or harming others and to give them a chance at redemption and a second shot at appreciating life. There’s going to be plenty more where that came from in Saw X, the tenth movie in the franchise, which is set after the first flick and sees the return of Tobin Bell’s Kramer.

Things are set to get brutal, but is the film based on a true story? Read on to find out. 

Is Saw X based on a true story?

No, Saw X isn’t based on a true story, and the script – written by Peter Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg – is fictional. However, it does center on John Kramer, who you might be interested to know was inspired by real events. 

This was revealed by Whannell back in 2010. While speaking with The AV Club, he explained that Wan had come up with the beginning and the end for the first Saw, and his job was to fill in the blanks. Essentially, he had to figure out: “Okay, two people are stuck in a room, they’ve been put there by somebody. Who put them there and why?”

“Around about that time, I think I was 24, I was working at a job I didn’t like very much and I was getting these migraines every day. Being the hypochondriac I was, I carted myself off to have tests,” he said. 

John Kramer in Saw X
Leigh Whannell came up with the idea for Jigsaw in the hospital

Whannell ended up having an MRI, which he described as a “weird experience,” sitting in the waiting area to get the test – but it was here the inspiration for the Jigsaw Killer started to take shape. 

“I started to think, ‘What if you were given the news that you had a tumor and you were going to die soon? How would you react to that?’ So I started to imagine this character who had been given a time limit, who’d been told that he had a year, two years to live, really, and that his condition would slowly kill him,” Whannell added.  

“Then I sort of attached that to the idea of somebody who put people in a literal version of that. Instead of a doctor telling you, ‘You have a year to live, make the best of it,’ this guy would put people in a situation and say, ‘You have 10 minutes to live. How are you going to spend those 10 minutes? Are you going to get out of it?’ 

“I thought that would be a good way to capture the idea of why somebody would stick two people in this room and give them a time limit to get out. That’s how the whole mythology of Jigsaw was created.”

In regard to the story specific to Saw X, although it’s fictional, it does touch upon real-life themes.

As per the official synopsis: “A sick and desperate John travels to Mexico for a risky and experimental medical procedure in hopes of a miracle cure for his cancer – only to discover the entire operation is a scam to defraud the most vulnerable.”

Obviously, Kramer gets revenge in the only way he knows how: by turning the tables on the scammers with a series of ingenious and terrifying traps. Traps aside, medical and healthcare scams are a real issue, and even more prevalent in the digital era.

Saw X drops in theaters on September 29. You can read more about the movie in the links below:

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