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Some might say it's obvious that Saw V would carry on from where Saw IV ended. But horror franchises are rarely so precise. In this case, though, logic prevails—if common sense and propriety fail to.
After surviving Jigsaw's worst, FBI agent Strahm sets out to prove that a police detective named Hoffman, despite being hailed a hero, is actually an apprentice to the deceased serial killer. He starts revisiting murder scenes to put the pieces together. And through a series of flashbacks connected to Hoffman's memories and Strahm's clue gathering, we begin to see how the crooked detective came to be part of the twisted killer's world.
In the meantime, Hoffman is following through on Jigsaw's final wish (or at least final until Saw VI comes out). He's set up yet another deadly game between five newly imprisoned characters who are all connected through a dastardly deed of their own.
As the clock ticks, mysteries unfold, people race for answers and entrails spill.
If there ever was any upright message in this flick, it's been twisted into a ruined mess. Jigsaw complains that a trap devised by Hoffman didn't give the victim a way to survive, saying, "Everybody deserves a chance" and "I never killed anybody without giving them a chance." Jigsaw also delivers the truism that, "Vengeance can change a person, making you into someone you never thought you could be."
Saw V doesn't contain any spirituality other than Jigsaw's rancid ramblings about how his torturous games can somehow deliver a sort of "redemption" to those living through them. (Very few manage to.) A tormentor tells his victim before butchering him, "Some call this karma, I call it justice."
The movie's trailers are accompanied by a verse from the Christian hymn "Be Thou My Vision." (There is no direct link between the lyric and the movie's content.)
Two female victims show cleavage. One strips off her shirt to reveal a form-fitting tank top.
Despite the fact that the Saw movies are well known for relishing the way Jigsaw relishes his "games," in this film Jigsaw inexplicably says, "Killing is distasteful." Hoffman tells a crowd, "Human life is sacred."
Hmmm. Here are just a few examples of what happens because killing is distasteful to Jigsaw, and life is sacred:
The revulsion begins with a man strapped to a table under a slowly descending pendulum. He's told that his only escape is to insert his hands—his implements of crime—into devices that will crush his bones but stop the blade. He does so and screams as his hands are brutally pulverized—but the blade continues to lower and gruesomely disembowel him.
Jigsaw's captives are challenged to somehow connect five short, high-voltage electrical lines in order to escape a prison before bombs explode. To solve the puzzle, they stab one of their number in the neck, throw her in a tub of water and attach the wires to her body. (One of the connectors is a hook that's slammed into her brain through her ear.) As the current surges through her, the woman's body jumps and spasms.
Two people must fill a beaker with 10 pints of blood. So they shove their hands into a buzz saw mechanism that hacks into their flesh and leaves their limbs mutilated and split up to the wrist.
Other atrocities: A man is caught by a bomb blast and torn open, leaving his innards strewn across a room's floor. Another's arm is shattered, sending bone shards ripping through the skin. And a tethered woman is ruthlessly yanked back by the neck into two large, razor-sharp blades; she's decapitated in a dreadful splatter scene.
Strahm is left to die with his head enclosed in a glass box that slowly fills with water. He survives by giving himself a brutal, self-inflicted tracheotomy.
Crude or Profane Language
The f-word appears over 50 times, the s-word a half-dozen times. God's and Jesus' names are abused. The words "a--" and "h---" also show up.
Drug and Alcohol Content
A man guzzles a huge drink from a large bottle of alcohol.
Other Negative Elements
The five people who are caught in Jigsaw's newest trap are all backstabbers who until nearly the very end battle selfishly for survival without concern for their fellow victims.
The Saw movies always seem to inhabit our most nightmarish and dreaded imaginings and then give us a front-row seat to closely watch those horrors take place. These are the films, after all, that have helped birth the cinematic slang "torture porn."
But in a horror.com interview, that bit of trivia didn't stop new franchise director David Hackl from saying that Saw's "aha!" twists and the complicated contraptions of death in which victims find themselves trapped make each of the Saw flicks a "thinking person's film."
That's true only if you define thinking person as someone who is consumed with and delighted by the bloody business of slashing, burning, ripping, shooting, hacking, impaling, beheading, chopping, gouging and pulping the bodies of human beings.
Here's Hackl, to clarify: "We don't just write a simple story and put a bunch of gory details in it and a bunch of gory scenes where someone loses a limb or has their head chopped off or something like that. We really try hard to make it awful."
Oh. OK. I guess if you put it that way.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Tobin Bell as Jigsaw/John; Costas Mandylor as Det. Mark Hoffman; Scott Patterson as Agent Strahm; Julie Benz as Brit; Mark Rolston as Dan Erickson
David Hackl ( )