A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jigsaw is the eighth movie in the Saw franchise, which supposedly ended with the "final chapter," 2010's Saw 3D. Like the others, the movie features diabolically grisly death traps (like an adult-themed haunted house), with extreme blood and gore, torture, and violence directed at women. Heads and limbs are sliced to bits, needles are injected, and characters die in many gruesome ways. There are also guns and shooting, fighting and hitting with blunt objects, and a flashback to a baby being smothered. Language includes several uses of "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole." Brief cigarette smoking is shown, and a minor character is referred to as a "meth head." A woman wears fishnet stockings in one scene, and bare breasts are seen in a body in the morgue.
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What's the story?
In JIGSAW, it's been 10 years since notorious killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) was himself killed. And then five people wake up with buckets on their heads, chained at the neck. They're dragged toward spinning saws that won't stop unless they offer up some blood. One doesn't make it. From there the traps continue, with deadly, gruesome planning and precision. Meanwhile, Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) brings a shooting victim to the morgue, where medical examiners Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) and Eleanor Bonneville (Hannah Emily Anderson) find clues leading back to Jigsaw. Along with Detective Hunt (Cle Bennett), they begin to suspect who the killer might be. Not trusting the cops, they head to where the clues lead: an abandoned pig farm full of spiky, murderous equipment. Will anyone survive?
Is it any good?
The eighth installment in the Saw franchise features a few clever traps, but it also has sadly thin characters and ridiculous twists. (It also represents a broken promise, as the previous Saw movie, Saw 3D, said it would be the "final chapter.") The "games" in Jigsaw have the feel of a spooky, grown-up haunted house, even if the characters who are put through them are aggravatingly shallow and spend most of the movie screaming at one another.
This time, most of the movie is focused on the detectives and the medical examiners. Bonneville, it turns out, is a secret, closet Jigsaw fan who keeps a studio full of sinister sculptures. Meanwhile, her work partner, Nelson, is said to have been tortured in the war. But even this stuff doesn't really add up to much. The movie's weird final "twist" is one of those things that elicits a "huh?" response and doesn't make enough sense to warrant a second viewing. Weirdly, Jigsaw was directed by talented Australian twins Michael and Peter Spierig, whose Daybreakers and Predestination were quite good. Hopefully it was a nice paycheck for them. At least Bell, returning as Jigsaw, is fun in his few scenes on-screen.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Jigsaw's extreme violence. What's the appeal of this kind of intense, torture-based gore? Does exposure to media violence make kids more aggressive?
How does this movie compare to the other movies in the Saw franchise?
Is the movie scary? Why is it sometimes fun to be scared? How does this movie compare, scarewise, to other horror movies you've seen?
Are there lessons to be learned from Jigsaw's brand of "justice" -- that is, getting liars and criminals to admit to their crimes?
- In theaters: October 27, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: January 23, 2018
- Cast: Laura Vandervoort, Tobin Bell, Callum Keith Rennie
- Directors: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 91 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, and for language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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