A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Serial killers get victims to kill other victims in pursuit of "cherishing life," but really, it's all cruel, self-absorbed games.
Positive Role Models
No positive role models.
Violence & Scariness
The film is packed with gory violence, beginning with Jigsaw/John's autopsy (sawing through skull, slicing through chest, and breaking rib cage open, all with yucky sound effects, in close-up with much blood). Violent acts throughout the film feature hatchets, chains, hanging contraptions, grinding gears, knives, guns, fists, and all manner of piercing traps and cutting gizmos. A man appears with eyes sewn shut, another with mouth sewn shut (bloody effort to open it). Rat eats a corpse. Photos of bloody victims and torturer. Husband and wife are pinned together with rods that she pulls out (bloody and excruciating). An exploding puppet sends shards into a woman's face. A pregnant woman is slammed by a door and miscarries (bloody). Climax involves violence and tension; multiple characters are murdered.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
John's body appears on a morgue table, naked (nonsexual), with at least two views of his penis (both at some distance). Rigg appears in his boxers (shirtless) as he searches his apartment for an intruder. A woman being tortured shows cleavage. In a flashback, John is solicited by a prostitute; he tells her to go home.
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Very frequent use of "f--k," plus occasional uses of "s--t," "c--ksucker," "hell," "a--hole," "damn," and "son of a bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In a flashback, Jill works in an addicts' clinic -- the clients show the effects of substance abuse, though not actual use; one smokes a cigarette.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Saw IV isn't remotely meant for kids (even though horror-loving teens will probably be interested), and it's hardly worth the time of the series' fans, either. The gory, torture-centric formula is familiar: Villain Jigsaw arranges elaborate "games" by which victims either survive by killing someone else or abusing themselves to near-death, or they die. Frequent over-the-top violence includes stabbing, shooting, hanging, fighting, slicing, and more. A pregnant woman suffers a bloody miscarriage. There's some nonsexual male nudity, a shot or two of cleavage, and reference to prostitution. Also expect the usual bad language, including lots of uses of "f--k." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
SAW IV doesn't bring much originality to the bloody scrap table of the series' previous three installments. As fans no doubt recall from Saw III, his imminent death from cancer impelled him to torture a surgeon into providing him bloody closure. And although she's also dead -- like too many other players to mention -- she makes a brief appearance in this installment, because for some reason all plotty points lead to Jigsaw's death. Again.
Even if you consider the ex-wife's backstory about Jigsaw/John as additional information, it's certainly not news. Like many villains before him, John turns out to have been wronged rather randomly, an act of terrible violence that he absorbs into his worldview as a design he'll spend the rest of his life correcting -- or, perhaps more accurately, elaborating. Viewers might want to wash their hands of the entire Saw business and instead seek out other, more bearable cat-and-mousey thrillers.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.