PEOPLE's Movies Associate Editor Benjamin VanHoose recounts his experience inside the 'Saw'-themed Vegas attraction
What happens in the Saw escape room does not stay in the Saw escape room.
After a screening of the new film Saw X (the franchise's 10th entry to date), I got to walk through an abbreviated version of the Official Saw Escape in Las Vegas on Sept. 18. Though the normal experience lasts about an hour, I was in and out in minutes — but the frights still stuck with me well after I found the "exit" sign.
Don't let the giggling fool you, that's just my go-to reaction when nervous.
Something unsightly awaited me at every turn, whether it was a loud contraption signaling someone's demise or an actor in full horror makeup giving it their all, pleading for my help as they found themselves inside one of Jigsaw's merciless traps.
There were screams — including and especially from me — and the jump scares had this already-jumpy person covering their ears and eyes.
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It was inside the final section, a recreation of the iconic cruddy bathroom set from the 2004 original Saw, that I felt fully immersed in the world of the films.
The painstaking attention to detail was clear, and I tried to appreciate it as much as I could while also staying on high alert for the next pig-masked assailant who'd chase me away with the threat of a flashing taser. Fight-or-flight mode was dialed to the max.
Would I survive one of Jigsaw's gruesome games? Clearly, as evidenced by this video, the odds aren't in my favor. But at least I'd have a good laugh before my timer ran out.
The Saw experience — which was voted the No. 1 escape room in a USA Today poll back in 2018 — featured nods to the newest film, including a tubular eye-vacuum trap.
Saw X director Kevin Greutert, who's been involved with the movie franchise from its start, told me it takes a lot for a trap idea to be deemed too gross for the final cut.
"Rarely is something too extreme for Saw," he says.
What keeps us coming back for more after 20 years of these movies? Producer Oren Koules explains, "For the fans, we try to be consistent. We try to give them a two-hour escape to whatever they get out of the movies. ... There's gotta be a little nervous humor. We tried not to take it so seriously."
Admission for the Official Saw Escape in Las Vegas starts at $49.99, with private VIP options also available. It's open Wendnesday through Sunday. Reservations are required.
Saw X is in theaters now.
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