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Saw IV

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Saw IV Movie Poster Image
Another Halloween, another gory torturefest. Yuck.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 38 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


Very frequent use of "f--k," plus occasional uses of "s--t," "c--ksucker," "hell," "a--hole," "damn," and "son of a bitch."

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.

What 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."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysupergram April 9, 2008


Adult Written byMelanie Williams October 3, 2012

Depends On You

I have watched the series of saw from beginning to end and to sum it up they are very gory and horrific movies. Which technically is the whole point, it is defi... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bydiimpsz April 9, 2008
dis movie was so shyt
Teen, 15 years old Written byDKRUMBLE725 March 10, 2010

Dissapointment, but still good

This film was dissapointing because it wasn't as good as Saw 2 (see my Saw 3 review title too see why) but it was better than 3. There is just as much gore... Continue reading

What's the story?

Jigsaw(Tobin Bell)'s bloodfest continues from beyond the grave in SAW IV. (The killer's life actually ended as the fourth film begins.) This time around, the primary sufferer SWAT team leader Rigg (Lyriq Bent), last seen supporting Kerry (Dina Meyer). She also shows up dead, spurring Riggs to try to save his other, long-missing partner, Eric (Donnie Wahlberg), back one more time to endure unspeakable torment. Rigg's intense desire to help is exactly what he must unlearn, according to Jigsaw, who leaves behind complex instructions that will lead either to Rigg's reinvigorated appreciation of his neglected wife (Ingrid Hart) or his own end. Rigg's "education" involves one grisly torture scene after another, witnessed both by him and the FBI agents -- Strahm (Scott Patterson) and Perez (Athena Karkanis) -- who declare the Jigsaw case theirs. While Strahm brings all kinds of file knowledge and Perez is intuitive (like girl cops tend to be in the movies), they're both surprised to learn Jigsaw's history from his ex-wife, Jill (Betsy Russell), who spends her interrogation room time looking alternately aghast and bored. The agents press her predictably, she gives up the big secret and then ... nothing much. The murder and mayhem proceed as Jigsaw has ordained, with all his victims behaving in selfish, fearful, pathetic ways. Except for Rigg, who tries again and again to do the right thing (in his mind) but never meets Jigsaw's standards. And so he suffers, with the rest of us.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of "torture porn" movies like Saw IV. Why does this cynical subgenre of horror movies continue to succeed with viewers? Do you think it will ever go too far (and who defines what "too far" is, anyway?)? How is the Saw franchise itself now a kind of "game"? Is it different from the games perpetrated by Jigsaw? And does he become a more sympathetic character when you learn his backstory? Why or why not?

  • What do you think about the movie's extreme violence. How did it make you feel? What was your reaction? 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 in recent years?

Movie details

For kids who love scares

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