Saw

  • Review Date: February 14, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2004

Common Sense Media says

More grisly than scary; not for kids.
  • Review Date: February 14, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2004

Age(i)

NOT FOR KIDS

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Violence

Exceptionally graphic and disturbing images, constant peril, death by numerous grisly methods, life of a child threatened, reference to suicide, many characters die.

Sex

References to adultery and molestation.

Language

Very strong language.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Smoking, references to drug addiction.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is the stuff of nightmares, even if the inured horror aficionado might not find it scary. The images of torture and death are brutal and explicit, lingering in mind long after the movie ends. There are multiple on-screen deaths, a child's life is threatened, characters die, a father is forced to make terrible decisions to protect his family, and there are no scenes free of peril. There are references to suicide, adultery, drug addiction, madness, and self-mutilation. There is strong language, and characters smoke. Underlying the killer's motive is the notion that everyone deserves to be tortured and that there are no innocents.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

A serial killer traps a doctor (Cary Elwes) and a voyeuristic photographer (Leigh Whannell) in a windowless room with a corpse. Together with the clues that they have been given, including a mini-cassette player, photographs and two small saws, they seek to solve the riddle and escape.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

A thoroughly intriguing if ghoulish premise, some original nightmarish images, and a young director eager to show off his talents make SAW atmospheric and intense. However, the whole thing gets caught in the razor wire of shoddy acting, a sociopath who makes you go "huh?", a lack of engaging characters, and a morass of internally inconsistent details. The bitter taste in your mouth when it's over will not be fear, but instead will be disappointment, that what could have been a smart, original horror-fest turned into such an uneven wannabe.

Wan and Whannell clearly have been influenced by modern horror stalwarts like Seven, 28 Days Later, and The Ring, which results in a stilted form of brinksmanship where the end game is the most memorable gruesome image. Tying the scenes together, much less ending the movie with a tight little knot, is beyond their story-spinning ken this time. However, they deserve recognition for aiming high and for providing an engaging if ultimately disappointing ride.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the killer's motivation, whether the deaths are consistent with that motive, and what the characters might have done differently. They also might wish to talk about the resonance (or lack thereof) of movies where characters face death and re-evaluate their lives and priorities. Do Lawrence or Adam become more appealing characters as you know them better and as their fate looks bleaker? Do their choices become clearer as they reassess their priorities? What do you think the "right" life would be like so as not to attract the killer's attention?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 29, 2004
DVD release date:February 15, 2005
Cast:Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Monica Potter
Director:James Wan
Studio:Lionsgate
Genre:Horror
Run time:102 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong grisly violence and language

This review of Saw was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bydudeman123 November 3, 2010
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

One of the greatest horror flicks of all time

How can common sense actually give Saw 1 out of 5 stars.. terrible review. Common sense just tries to get people to think saw is a terrible movie because it is bloody. In reality, Saw is an excellent and well executed film. The entire movie is a thrill ride from the beginning to the very unexpected and shocking ending. Saw will leave you stunned, guessing, and ready for a sequel

What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written bytvgirl July 1, 2009
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

An Excellent Psychological Thriller!

This film is exactly what the posters and DVD covers convey: A violent horror movie not suitable for kids and pre-teens to see. What they don't convey is how the psychological thriller aspect of the movie is more prominat than the graphic and very realistic violence which can become disturbing to some squeemish viewers. Things to look out for are: The implication that a man is having an affair, two sex jokes, and a man runs through a room completely naked and is on screen for no more than 5 seconds. Violence is throughout. The aftermath of horrific torturous murders are seen several times. One realistic gunshot wound, several realistic hand-to-hand battles, and lastly a man cuts off his own foot (the action is off screen, we see him after the exploit is over with). Language is very frequent, mostly the "F" word is used but other cuss words are said was well. It is implied that a victim bought and sold illegal drugs and a main character is revealed to be a smoker. The entire film is unsettling and hard to rewatch, but the inital reaction to seeing the film for the first time will leave the viewer breathless. Bottom line: The film was originally NC-17 and cut down to an R-rating. Ages 16+. 5/5 stars. Enjoy.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written byHunterJumper13 December 21, 2010
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Great for mature tweens-teens

I'm 13,and I thought this movie was terrific. I mean, I'm a horrer movie connesuer, I've been raised on Chucky, Jason X, etc etc. I found this movie to have an interesting plot though, and the acting was actualy pretty good. I'd say definantly go for it for 13:)

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Top Kids' Movies: An Essential Guide for Families