• Review Date: February 14, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 102 minutes

Common Sense Media says

"Torture porn" gore-fest is more grisly than scary.
  • Review Date: February 14, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 102 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Attempts to add a sense of destiny and philosophy to the victims; they've all committed some sort of wrong (lying, bigotry, cheating, etc.) and are now being shown the error of their ways. But the extreme gore involved in the punishment heavily outweighs the original crimes.

Positive role models

No admirable characters here.


This is a "torture porn" movie with exceptionally graphic/bloody and disturbing images. Constant peril, death by many grisly methods, life of a child threatened, reference to suicide, many characters die, references to molestation. Some shocking jump scenes.


Sexual innuendo. References to adultery. Flashback includes a cleavage shot. Crude references.


Frequent use of strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "damn," "hell," "a--hoie," "goddamn," "oh my God," "crap," and more.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Smoking, references to drug addiction, talk of getting a beer.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Saw is the stuff of nightmares, even if a jaded 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 also references to suicide, adultery, drug addiction, madness, and self-mutilation. There's strong language ("f--k," "s--t," and more), 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?

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

Is it any good?


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. But 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 won't be fear, but rather disappointment that what could have been a smart, original horror-fest turned into such an uneven wannabe.

Director James Wan and Whannell (who wrote the script with the director) 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. But 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. How would you describe it? Do you understand it? Are the deaths consistent with that motive? What might the characters have done differently?

  • How do the gory images in movies like this impact viewers, especially young ones? Why do you think there's been a trend toward these "torture porn" movies?

  • Discuss the resonance (or lack thereof) of movies where characters face death and re-evaluate their lives and priorities. Do Lawrence and Adam become more appealing characters as you get to 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:September 23, 2014
Cast:Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Leigh Whannell
Director:James Wan
Run time:102 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong grisly violence and language

This review of Saw was written by

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  • 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.

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Learning ratings

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

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Written byAnonymous September 24, 2014

Saw review

========================================================= Sex/Nudity: We see what looks like a victim's bare butt from a distance in sped up film as the victim runs around and tries to get out of a room. Adam sarcastically tells the killer (via a video camera) that this is the most fun he's had without a lubricant. We see various nude mannequins in the killer's lair. Adam states that he's a photographer who's paid to follow rich guys who go to seedy hotels to "f*ck their secretaries." We see a flashback of Lawrence meeting a woman in a motel room. She shows cleavage and starts to undo her top, but he stops her and nothing else sexual happens. Adam comments about Lawrence's potential affair by saying he doesn't care if Lawrence covered himself in peanut butter and had a 15-hooker "gang bang." 4/10. ========================================================= A man is shown with a pool of blood around his head throughout. Police find a dead body of a man ripped apart with barbed wire. Grisly photographs are seen. A police officer quotes that "he cut himself so deep that they found traces of stomach acid on the floor." A dead body has a jigsaw-shaped piece cut out of his skin, and blood and bare flesh can be seen. A man is burnt to death. (This can only be seen in a rapid sequence of few seconds) A helpless man is stabbed to death offscreen. A police officer is shot by four shotguns after accidentally setting them off by running over some tripwire (He does not survive). A man is pulled over and beaten with the lid of a toilet tank. The beating is off-screen but blood splatters on the attacker and disturbing sound effects of the toilet lid repeatedly smashing the head is heard. He screams with a gag in his mouth while his face is sprayed with his own blood. A police officer has his throat slashed (He survives). A woman stabs a man in the leg with a pair of scissors in self-defense. No blood shown. A man smashes a vase onto the head of another man. A man is shot from a long distance away. A woman in a trap cuts open a man's stomach (off-screen) and fumbles about with his organs to pull out a key (This is the most graphic part of the whole movie). 8/10. ========================================================= Blood/Gore: We see blood or dirt on the large bathroom walls. We briefly see Adam vomiting. We see a dead man lying on the floor, his head is very bloody and there's a great deal of blood around him on the floor (we see many shots of him). Lawrence has a bruise on his face. Adam has to insert his hand into a very gross and filth-covered toilet, getting its contents all over his hand and part of his arm. We see several views of a dead guy strung up in many strands of large razor wire. We also see various stills and some moving footage of his split-open skin from the many cuts he suffered. We see a body part with a piece of skin that's been cut out in the shape of a large jigsaw puzzle piece. We see several views of a charred body. To obtain a key that will ensure her survival, a woman repeatedly stabs into a drugged man's gut with a knife (no impact, but some blood on her face). We then see a lot of blood on her hand as well as the man's stomach that she now holds. We see a victim with some bloody cuts around her mouth. The killer slices Tapp's neck, resulting in a lot of blood coming out. A cop's leg hits a trip wire, setting off several guns above him. We don't see the impact, but do see the blood splatter and then blood on the dead cop. Lawrence puts a little supposedly poisoned blood on the end of a cigarette. A man prepares to cut off his own leg and we then see the beginning of the sawing (with some blood) with the rest occurring just off camera. Two men struggle over a gun with one being shot and mortally wounded (he's bloody). A man grabs another man, struggles with him and then punches him in the face. He then grabs a toilet cover and repeatedly smashes it on his head. We don't see the actual impact, but do see a lot of resultant blood on the first man's face. 8.5/10. ========================================================= Profanity: At least 28 "f" words (1 used with the prefix "mother," and 1 used sexually), 15 "s" words, 1 slang term for male genitals ("pr*ck"), 4 asses (all used with "hole"), 4 hells, 2 S.O.B.'s, 1 crap, 1 damn, and 2 uses each of "Oh my God" and "Jesus Christ," and 1 use each of "G-damn," "God," "Thank God" and "Jesus" as exclamations. 7/10. ========================================================= We hear that a miscellaneous woman is a drug addict and see bruises on the inside of her arms from that. Tapp's partner says he's going to get a beer, but Tapp turns down the offer. 1/10. ========================================================= Adam smokes twice. When a cigarette is discovered, it makes Adam state that something else (which had just been ranked as the most beautiful invention in the world) is now ranked number two. 3/10. ========================================================= Saw is quite a good psychological horror film, and is definitely worth the watch if you're a horror film fan. I give it 7/10. =========================================================
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bydudeman123 November 3, 2010

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

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

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:)


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