Saw V



Dullest film in series is still brutal and bloody.
  • Review Date: October 27, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A killer frames an innocent man for his crimes; a serial killer traps people in insane deathtraps; discussions of corruption, bribery, arson, and drug addiction.


Constant, brutal, bloody violence, including beatings, clubbing, shootings, stabbings, and more. Characters are constantly placed in maniacal deathtraps against their will. A woman is decapitated by one of these traps; a man is eviscerated by a pendulum blade; another man is killed by a bomb. A wounded woman is seen convulsing as electrical current is applied to her body. A man is trapped in a box full of razor wire. Blood is sprayed, spit up, and spilled liberally. Dead bodies are seen on screen and in crime scene photographs; throats are slit; people are stabbed with hypodermic needles and sedated against their will; bones are crushed; a man's arms are broken with such force that the bone is seen protruding from the flesh; a man whose head is trapped in a box filling with water self-administers a tracheotomy to survive. A man and woman place their hands on a band saw that splits their arm between the radius and ulna halfway up their forearm; the grotesque wound is shown on screen. People are threatened with guns, nail bombs, electrocution, and more.


Some discussion of sexual activity; a corpse is shown with cleavage visible.


Frequent strong language, including "f--k," "motherf---er," "a--hole," "s--t," and more.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink hard liquor, beer, and wine; cigarettes are held -- but not smoked -- on screen. A drug addict character is in the throes of withdrawal and shows his needle marks.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this "torture porn" horror movie is full of graphic, grisly violence that combines sadistic terror with state-of-the-art makeup and effects. Lots characters are killed in lots of ways, all very graphically and all shown on screen. There are flashbacks to deaths and violence from earlier films in the Saw series and extensive use of crime scene photographs showing dead bodies. There's also some strong language (including "f--k"), but the majority of the film involves sadistic brutality crafted by the film's villain as a series of "games" -- like a sequence in which characters trapped in a room with a bomb must volunteer to place their arms in a box with a saw so their blood will fill a jar; when filled, the jar will trigger the door that leads to safety. That's just one example; there are many, many more.

What's the story?

Picking up immediately after the events in Saw IV, SAW V follows police forensics expert Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), a cop who was originally on the trail of the serial killer known as Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) -- but who now has, it seems, become his protégé, continuing Jigsaw's psychotic work after his death. Five strangers are locked in yet another series of rooms filled with Jigsaw's deadly "games," while Hoffman tries to elude FBI agent Strahm (Scott Patterson), who's realizing that Hoffman isn't the man who solved Jigsaw's crimes but instead the man who helped perpetrate them.

Is it any good?


The Saw series has become a staple of modern horror, but the fact is that series creators James Wan and Leigh Wannell moved on after Saw III; the Saw movies are now mass-production commodities, and the machinery seems to be lubricated with blood. Saw V flashes back to the earlier Saw films and shows audiences new twists on what has gone before; the assumption that we'll be interested is a fairly presumptuous one on the part of the filmmakers. The acting is at a soap-opera level; the biggest star in the film is Bell (whose Jigsaw may have died in the last movie but gets a surprising amount of screen time nonetheless thanks to all the flashbacks). And the whole film is shot by director David Hackl with a smeary, cheap look, as if the camera lens were behind a thin film of bacon fat or soot.

The film sets up Saw VI, of course, but it also takes the time to show us plenty of horrible violence -- decapitation, self-mutilation, bone-grinding pressure, eviscerating blades -- carried out by deathtrap "games" that the killer uses as objects of moral instruction. Screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan clearly devoted more thought to crafting and developing these games than they did to crafting and developing the characters trapped in them. The first Saw film, while hardly brilliant, had a certain grim giddy glee to its inventive murders and terrible tortures; Saw V is worn down and weary under a numbing burden of repetition.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why people are drawn to violent and sadistic films. What is their appeal? Also, is there an artistic difference between a well-made gory film and a badly made one? Is there a moral or ethical difference? Families can also discuss the ongoing popularity of the Saw series -- are the producers just giving people what they want, or bleeding a cash cow?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 24, 2008
DVD release date:January 20, 2009
Cast:Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Tobin Bell
Director:David Hackl
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, language and brief nudity.

This review of Saw V was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


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; OK 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.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Grim, slick, shocking thriller. Older teens only.
  • Thriller that made the serial killer a superstar.
  • Mature, complicated look at movie violence.

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

Teen, 15 years old Written byLinkin Park vs.... June 27, 2010

Not as gory as most of the films

Not as gory as any of the others.... well more than the first one and maybe the second but thats about it... more twists and turns
Teen, 15 years old Written byDKRUMBLE725 March 10, 2010

Disagree with Common Sense, this movie is not too dull

Beleive it or not, I liked this better than Saw 2. I liked the storyline and how it blended with the other films. Gore is not as bad, language is still prevelant. If you watch one Saw movie, make sure it's this one!
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Kid, 10 years old October 15, 2014


Watched this movie as a dare and I literally barfed halfway through. DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE. All it is is torture, sex and gore!!!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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

Star Wars Guide