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FILMHOUNDS Goes Behind-the-Scenes of Saw: The Experience

3 min read

Being trapped in one of Jigsaw’s sinister games is likely quite low on people’s bucket lists. Industrially decrepit rooms, sadistic life-threatening puzzles with a creepy puppet overlord watching your every move – it’s far from the ideal Saturday night entertainment. However, if you were going to stage an escape room experience, you’d have trouble finding a franchise better suited; that’s what The Path Entertainment Group certainly thought.

This is The Path’s second foray into the world of immersive experiences, having constructed Lifesized Monopoly on Tottenham Court Road to resounding success – now, they’ve turned their creative ambitions to much seedier, discomforting delights. Saw: The Experience is no light undertaking, with Tobin Bell returning to lend his voice alongside LIONSGATE providing some identical copies of Billy the Puppet to taunt you along the way. Filmhounds was invited down to have a sneak preview before the experience opened, getting a peek behind the bloody curtain of the work that’s gone into ensuring players have the worst time of their lives.

Stationed in America Square, Saw: The Experience is much closer to an escape building than an escape room itself – there are at least 5 different torture chambers for players to work through, each intricately designed to test one’s mental fortitude under duress; creative director Filipe Carvalho noted that due to the complex combination of physical interaction and hidden technological connectivity, even slight adjustments to each room can take weeks to quality control to ensure everything works together.

Just as in the films, Saw: The Experience has developed its own storyline that allows anyone who comes to be folded into the moral judgments of Jigsaw – you play as an investor into a private building firm promising to create affordable housing, but instead are enticed by billionaire apartment developments. You’re lured to America Square under the guise of a celebration hosted by the CEO – and things soon go awry.

When I was shown around, the experience was still having its finishing touches as Carvalho and creative producer Tom Beynon guided us through each room, and despite knowing every detail or their inner workings, the entire experience was immensely unnerving. From the moment the atmosphere begins to feel off, you are thrown into a perpetual state of anxiety and heart-pounding nervousness that will only subside once you step out of America Square itself. Beynon and Carvalho have planted enough cruel tricks and illusions that will cause you to second-guess every moment, action, and thought you have as you travel though the labyrinthian dungeon.

The level of detail is truly impressive, particularly in the re-construction of the original Saw’s bathroom set – it’s hard to believe you’re not walking onto the set transported to London itself. Every tile looks authentically grubby, and the perverse industrialist chic Jigsaw frequents is elevated more-and-more with callbacks and homages to later traps in the franchise. As someone who’s had frequent nightmares about being trapped in a real-life Saw scenario, there was this constant fight-or-flight within me to break from the group and just bolt out of there. It’s a true testament to The Path Entertainment Group that despite being with its creators, who explained every nook and cranny which theoretically deconstructs the illusion, I was feverishly on edge from beginning to end.

What The Path Entertainment Group have constructed within America Square is something that Jigsaw himself would be proud – a downright disturbing immersive experience that grabs you by the throat and won’t let go until you scream. Fans of the franchise will as happy as they are hysterical, crawling on their hands and knees through their oversized rat mazes in the dark fog, screaming for their teammates to give them some help, any help! Part of me wants to go again now it’s all up and running, fully ready to mentally scar me to its fullest potential – but another part of me thinks I might just die of fright.

Saw: The Experience is open now at 1 America Square, EC3N 2LJ – book your tickets now at sawtheexperience.com to begin the games.