13 Movies Like Saw (2004)

Staff & contributors
Not only is this multi-award-winning drama seriously star-studded, Robert Downey Jr., Rosario Dawson, Channing Tatum, and Shia LaBeouf also deliver superb performances. With two Sundance Awards and many other nominations in its pocket, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is based on the eponymous memoir by author, director, and musician, Dito Montiel, who recalls his violent childhood on the mean streets of Queens in the 1980s (LaBeouf plays the young Dito), as he visits his ailing father after 15 years away in Los Angeles (Downey Jr. plays present-day Dito). It is also real-life Dito's directorial debut, recalling the loose, improvisational style of 70s cinema a'la Scorcese. The powerful plot is told through flashbacks and fourth-wall bending monologues, while the eccentric directing style makes for a raw and immediate experience. The energy of this coming-of-age drama is off the charts!

Genre: Crime, Drama

Actor: Adam Scarimbolo, Chance Kelly, Channing Tatum, Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest, Eléonore Hendricks, Eric Roberts, Federico Castelluccio, Gilbert Cruz, Jermel Wilson, Laila Liliana Garro, Martin Compston, Melonie Diaz, Olga Merediz, Peter Anthony Tambakis, Robert Downey Jr., Rosario Dawson, Scott Michael Campbell, Shia LaBeouf

Director: Dito Montiel

Rating: R

Full of twists on classic horror themes, this hilarious and gory comedy will have your sides aching, and still you’ll want more. The plot centers on two rednecks who are trying to have a good time while fixing up a summer home. True to horror movie form, a group of college kids set up camp nearby, and naturally evil begins to happen. This well-written, entertaining story even has some heart to it.

Genre: Comedy, Horror

Actor: Adam Beauchesne, Alan Tudyk, Alex Arsenault, Bill Baksa, Brandon Jay McLaren, Chelan Simmons, Christie Laing, Eli Craig, Jesse Moss, Joseph Allan Sutherland, Karen Reigh, Katrina Bowden, Mitchell Verigin, Myles Pollard, Philip Granger, Sasha Williams, Travis Nelson, Tyler Labine

Director: Eli Craig

Rating: R

A zombie virus breaks out and catches up with a father as he is taking his daughter from Seoul to Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city. Watch them trying to survive to reach their destination, a purported safe zone.

The acting is spot-on; the set pieces are particularly well choreographed. You’ll care about the characters. You’ll feel for the father as he struggles to keep his humanity in the bleakest of scenarios.

It’s a refreshingly thrilling disaster movie, a perfect specimen of the genre.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller

Actor: Ahn So-hee, An So-hee, Baek Seung-hwan, Cha Chung-hwa, Chang-hwan Kim, Choi Gwi-hwa, Choi Woo-shik, Choi Woo-sung, Dong-seok Ma, Eui-sung Kim, Gong Yoo, Han Ji-eun, Han Sung-soo, Jang Hyuk-jin, Jeon Ye-eun, Jeong Seok-yong, Jung Seok-yong, Jung Young-ki, Jung Yu-mi, Kim Chang-hwan, Kim Eui-sung, Kim Jae-rok, Kim Joo-heon, Kim Joo-hun, Kim Ju-hun, Kim Keum-soon, Kim Soo-ahn, Kim Soo-an, Kim Su-an, Kim Won-Jin, Kim Woon, Lee Joo-sil, Lee Joong-ok, Lee Jung-ok, Ma Dong-seok, Ok Joo-ri, Park Myung-shin, Sang-ho Yeon, Seok-yong Jeong, Shim Eun-kyung, Sohee, Soo-an Kim, Soo-jung Ye, Terri Doty, Woo Do-im, Woo-sik Choi, Ye Soo-jung, Ye Su-jeong, Yeon Sang-ho, Yoo Gong, Yu-mi Jeong, Yu-mi Jung

Director: Sang-ho Yeon, Yeon Sang-ho

Rating: Not Rated

Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro creates another haunting movie that leaves you questioning your sense of reality. El Orfanato revolves around a mother tries desperately to find her missing adopted son soon after her and her husband move into her old orphanage. But the past horrors of the orphanage will not let her son be found so easily.

Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller

Actor: Andres Gertrudix, Belén Rueda, Belén Rueda, Blanca Martínez, Edgar Vivar, Enric Arquimbau, Fernando Cayo, Geraldine Chaplin, Isabel Friera, Mabel Rivera, Montserrat Carulla, Óscar Casas, Roger Príncep

Director: J.A. Bayona, Juan Antonio Bayona

Rating: R

In an age where recent horror films mostly use the jump-scare as a crutch to make their CGI-spawned (not to mention generic) creatures seem scary, The Babadook portrays real scares, relatable characters and a moving story. Jennifer Kent (director and writer) sets this on the backdrop of heavily Lars von Trier-inspired cinematography, elevating The Babadook from a shot at an amazing horror to a resemblance of an art house film. The unease felt during this film only increases as it creeps towards its conclusion. Whenever the Babadook (the monster of the film) is seen lurking in the peripherals of the camera, appearing in television sets and the shadows to create a sense of omnipresence that disturbs the viewer on a deeper, more primal level than that of so many recent horror films could even hope to reach. It leaves the audience with the sensation that they are being lowered onto a lit candle, spine-first. In short; the seamless acting, the beautiful shots, the slow-burning terror together creates a masterpiece that strides past any horror film of the past decade (maybe even further) and stands toe-to-toe with the greats without even breaking a sweat.

Genre: Drama, Horror

Actor: Adam Morgan, Barbara West, Ben Winspear, Benjamin Winspear, Carmel Johnson, Cathy Adamek, Chloe Hurn, Craig Behenna, Daniel Henshall, Essie Davis, Hayley McElhinney, Jacquy Phillips, Michael Gilmour, Michelle Nightingale, Noah Wiseman, Peta Shannon, Pippa Wanganeen, Stephen Sheehan, Terence Crawford, Tiffany Lyndall-Knight, Tim Purcell

Director: Jennifer Kent

Rating: Not Rated

, 2011

Realistic, intimate, and compelling, Elena is a movie that makes you think a lot after you finish watching it. It is an inherently Russian movie, however there is something about how the story is told that makes it a universal family drama. A woman from a modest background to which she still has a lot of attachement is married to an old wealthy business man. Upon learning that the man might write her off his will, she feels pushed to get her hands dirty to honor her responsibilities towards her original family. The question of right and wrong when faced with extreme situations is at the heart of this aesthetically slow-burning family drama.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Actor: Aleksandr Kazakov, Aleksandr Slastin, Aleksey Maslodudov, Aleksey Rozin, Anastasiya Sapozhnikova, Andrey Smirnov, Anna Gulyarenko, Dmitry Pavlenko, Ekaterina Tarkovskaya, Elena Lyadova, Igor Ogurtsov, Ivan Dobronravov, Ivan Mulin, Larisa Khalafova, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Nadezhda Markina, Oksana Semenova, Olga Lapshina, Vasily Michkov, Vasily Zotov, Yana Lvova, Yaroslav Zhalnin, Yuriy Borisov

Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev

Rating: Not Rated

There is no shortage of resources—be it books, films, articles, or interviews—about the atrocities Ferdinand Marcos unleashed on the Philippines. And yet, in the years since his exile and eventual death, his family has returned to power in the country, winning the hearts and (manipulated) minds of the masses.

In The Kingmaker, director Lauren Greenfield (who earlier directed the equally revealing The Queen of Versailles) exposes how this came to be, with a focus on the titular kingmaker herself, Imelda Marcos. It’s chilling how much of Imelda’s stated goals in this documentary, which spans five years, have come true. History repeats itself, and Greenfield skillfully and delicately captures the delusion, irony, and blatant corruption of a family dead set on owning a country, as if it were another luxury to purchase (or in the case of the Marcoses, pocket). 

Genre: Crime, Documentary, Drama

Actor: Andres D. Bautista, Benigno Aquino III, Bongbong Marcos, Etta Rosales, Imee Marcos, Imelda Marcos, Leni Robredo, Mary Yturria

Director: Lauren Greenfield

Rating: R

Chile 76 takes place three years after the dictator Augusto Pinochet took over the country and cracked down on dissenting groups and rebels. There was political strife and unnecessary violence, but almost none of this plays out explicitly in the film. Instead, we mostly follow Carmen, who seems to be going through a crisis of her own, albeit an internal one. She lives a well-to-do life as she decorates a new house and volunteers at the church, but there is a deep-seated melancholia about her, which is maybe why she’s so drawn to Elias (Nicolás Sepúlveda). She exits her comfort zone and aids in his covert exchanges across town, perhaps because she’s genuinely interested in Elias’ cause, but possibly because she sees it as a way out from the humdrum of her privileged life. The beauty of the film is that it melds the personal with the political in subtle and interesting ways, allowing us viewers to draw our own conclusions to the matter.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Alejandro Goic, Aline Kuppenheim, Amalia Kassai, Antonia Zegers, Elvis Fuentes, Ernesto Meléndez, Gabriel Urzúa, Germán de Silva, Graciela Tenenbaum, Julián Marras, Marcial Tagle, Mauricio Pesutic, Mora Recalde, Vilma Verdejo

Director: Manuela Martelli

The Cabin in the Woods came to be as Buffy The Vampire Slayer writers Drew Goddard and and Joss Whedon set themselves on a mission to upgrade the slasher genre. With this film, they wanted to satirize the way it slips into torture porn. In other words, they aspired to make a clever, punchy new classic. Amassing a 30 million dollar budget attests to their hopes: a massive backend of VFX work provided an elaborate film world, where different levels of 'reality' are at play. As six college students head into the woods to spend a debaucherous weekend undisturbed, a whole underground laboratory monitors their every move. It appears that a big operation is underway to trap the unsuspecting crowd into a curated murder scenario, straight out of a horror movie. Among the victims, we see Chris Hemsworth at the time his career was just taking off, so that's history in the making for you.

Unfortunately, in its devotion to provocatively render some horror tropes irrelevant, The Cabin in the Woods cannot help but reinforce others. It still carries the whiff of the late 2000s' misogyny in the way it portrays women and it certainly doesn't try hard enough to disrupt the genre's opposition to female sexuality. The characters of Dana (the virgin) and Jules (the experienced one) are sure to make you wince, as they're written as flat as a piece of paper. So you say no to torture porn, but embrace misogyny...?

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

Actor: Adrian Holmes, Amy Acker, Anna Hutchison, Aya Furukawa, Brad Dryborough, Bradley Whitford, Brian J. White, Chelah Horsdal, Chris Hemsworth, Dan Payne, Dan Shea, Ellie Harvie, Fran Kranz, Greg Zach, Heather Doerksen, Jesse Williams, Jodelle Ferland, Kristen Connolly, Lori Stewart, Matt Drake, Matt Phillips, Maya Massar, Nels Lennarson, Patrick Gilmore, Patrick Sabongui, Peter Kelamis, Phillip Mitchell, Richard Cetrone, Richard Jenkins, Rukiya Bernard, Sigourney Weaver, Terry Chen, Terry Notary, Tim DeZarn, Tom Lenk

Director: Drew Goddard

Rating: R

, 2007

TV reporter documenting a day with a local fire crew, they encounter a deadly virus trapped in a tower block. This film is bloody brilliant! Innovative camera work and a simple idea perfectly executed. When I watched this, I was alone in the dark and ended up constantly jumping around with fright and excitement. A real wake up for other horror filmmakers, Hollywood hasn't come close to anything like this.

Genre: Horror, Mystery

Actor: Akemi Goto, Ana Isabel Velásquez, Ben Temple, Carlos Lasarte, Carlos Vicente, Claudia Silva, David Vert, Ferran Terraza, Jana Prats, Javier Botet, Javier Coromina, Jorge-Yamam Serrano, Kao Chen-Min, Manuel Bronchud, Manuela Velasco, Maria Lanau, Maria Teresa Ortega, Marita Borrego, Martha Carbonell, Pablo Rosso, Vicente Gil, Víctor Massagué

Director: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza

Rating: R

How much do you know about what’s inside the skincare and cosmetic products you use? This is one of the main questions Toxic Beauty addresses. The award-winning documentary features a series of powerful and insightful voices, including Deane Berg, the woman who took the American multinational corporation Johnson & Johnson to court to claim its body powder was a factor in her contracting ovarian cancer. As the film progresses, it becomes more and more apparent that the beauty industry is as unhealthy as the products it creates and promotes.

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Actor: Deane Berg, Mymy Nguyen

Director: Phyllis Ellis

This movie is distilled horror. A teenager sleeps with her boyfriend for the first time, after which he tells her that he was the latest recipient of a curse that is transmitted through sexual contact. After she becomes completely paranoid without any manifestations, the curse manifests itself in assassins that kill their way to her. A genuinely creepy film that’s also very smart.

Genre: Horror, Mystery

Actor: Alexyss Spradlin, Bailey Spry, Carollette Phillips, Charles Gertner, Claire Sloma, Daniel Zovatto, Ele Bardha, Heather Fairbanks, Jake Weary, Keir Gilchrist, Kourtney Bell, Leisa Pulido, Lili Sepe, Linda Boston, Loren Bass, Maika Monroe, Mike Lanier, Olivia Luccardi, Rich Vreeland, Ruby Harris, Scott Norman

Director: David Robert Mitchell

Rating: R

, 2023

For its first half-hour or so, Saw X really doesn't feel like an entry in the long-running horror series commonly described by detractors as "torture porn." It's quiet and steadily paced and does a better job than many horror sequels and reboots of recent years in making its primary antagonist a sympathetic human being. The way the character of John Kramer (AKA Jigsaw) has been written here—elevated by Tobin Bell's performance—gives even the film's later, more extreme segments a hint of soulfulness, since we're made to feel exactly what drives his self-appointed mission to exact justice on other terrible people.

But this new, dramatic spin on Saw doesn't last for very long, and this tenth film eventually slides back into its trademark cheesy elements that won't make any new converts to the series. Overly aggressive editing and music, hammy performances from the supporting cast, and death traps that grow increasingly unimaginative all dull the greater impact that Saw X could have had. The batch of victims we get this time around are somewhat compelling given their connections they have to each other and to Kramer himself, but they're still ultimately more of the same—just cannon fodder waiting for execution.

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Actor: Costas Mandylor, Craig Hurley, Donagh Gordon, Jorge Briseño, Joshua Okamoto, Katie Barberi, Kerry Ardra, Lucía Gómez-Robledo, Michael Beach, Natasha Goss, Octavio Hinojosa Martínez, Paulette Hernández, Renata Vaca, Shawnee Smith, Steven Brand, Synnøve Macody Lund, Tobin Bell

Director: Kevin Greutert

Rating: R