Like many of you I first saw Saw in 2004. The first film was a shocker. It was labeled as a horror film, but it was much more than that. It was a detective, thriller. It was a story about a homicidal killer who put two, seemingly, un-related people in a bathroom chained to giant pipes. The only way out was to saw off your leg and escape. Since this film there have been 5 additions to the franchise and the final film Saw 3D is coming out soon which will complete the franchise.
The Saw films coupled with Hostel introduced a new genre of horror. The majority of horror films center around supernatural elements, monsters, or madmen like Michael Myers or Leatherface. This franchise centers around a sick-cancer patient and his homicidal plans to force people to live their lives. The only way they can live their lives according to John Kramer is to sacrifice something, for a sin they have committed. In addition, these films are gore films. It's not really about the scare, like other horror films, but it is about the gore.
While Saw 1 didn't have an abundance of gore, it did in a certain respect, the subsequent films did. Saw 4-6 are mainly gore films. Characters are introdued and minuets later they are often killed or mutiliated in horrible ways. Every post Saw 1 film has three acts. The first act is the introduction that sets up the plot. Sometimes it recaps the previous films plot or explores what happens to the central character and how they 'failed' their test. The second act introduces the new victims and shows the horrible test they must survive to escape the game. The third act centers around the main character and almost always shows how they do the wrong thing and die in a terrible way.
I am always hoping that the main character will survive the final test and outwit Jigsaw, but like I said that is often not what happens in these films.
The Saw series is not for the faint of heart. They are horror films that highlight gore and wrong choices. Often the victims are characters that have sinned in life by being prostitutes, or drug dealers. These are the people that Jigsaw is trying to help. But, I think we can all agree that his methods of helping these individuals are terrible.