Saw is a horror franchise distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment and produced by Twisted Pictures that consists of seven feature films. The franchise began with the 2003 short film created by Australian director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell to help pitch as a potential feature film. This was successfully done in 2004 with the release of the first film at the Sundance Film Festival. It was released theatrically that October. The sequels were directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, David Hackl and Kevin Greutert, and were written by Wan, Whannell, Bousman, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, and were released subsequently every October, on the Friday before Halloween, between 2004 and 2010. Both of the creators remained with the franchise as executive producers. On July 22, 2010, producer Mark Burg confirmed that the seventh film, Saw 3D, is the final installment of the series. Series creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell are still open to continuing the series, however, if they can do something "different" with the material. The films collectively grossed over $873 million at the box office worldwide. Lionsgate also expressed interest in continuing the franchise in 2012, though it is unknown whether the series will continue with another sequel, or a reboot of the entire franchise.
The franchise revolves around the fictional character of John Kramer, also called the "Jigsaw Killer" or simply "Jigsaw". He was introduced briefly in Saw and developed in more detail in Saw II. Rather than killing his victims outright, Jigsaw traps them in situations that he calls "tests" or "games" to test their will to live through physical or psychological torture. Despite the fact that John was murdered in Saw III, the films continue to focus on the posthumous influence of the Jigsaw Killer and his apprentices by exploring his character via flashbacks.
The film series as a whole has received mixed to negative reviews by critics, but has been a financial success at the box office. While the films are often compared to Hostel and classified as torture porn by critics, the creators of Saw disagree with the term "torture porn". Writer Luke Y. Thompson of OC Weekly argued that, unlike Hostel, the Saw films actually have less torture than most in the sense of sadism or masochism, as Jigsaw believes that those who survive his methods will be stronger people for it. He called him a kind of a (deranged) philanthropist.