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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Secrets can kill you. Especially if your secrets involve killing somebody else.

After a seven-year absence, welcome back to the twisted world of Jigsaw, the diabolically moralistic murderer who's as "gifted" at crafting Rube Goldberg-like torture machines as he is letting his victims know that they've absolutely earned whatever bloodletting punishment he dishes out.

Of course, it's a world that, technically speaking, we shouldn't be revisiting at all. It's been 10 years since the man behind the clown mask, John Kramer, died. Yet, troubling hints suggest that maybe, just maybe, Jigsaw's not gone after all.

First there's the peculiar case of one Edgar Munsen. After a car chase, police pursue the criminal to a warehouse rooftop, where he retrieves a remote control of some sort. Don't shoot, he warns, or he'll pull the trigger and begin a ghoulish game that will claim the lives of five people.

The police shoot. Edgar pulls the trigger. The game commences.

At that very moment in a grey room somewhere nearby, chains begin dragging five unfortunates toward rotating saws in the wall in front of them. As if that weren't bad enough, they wear buckets on their heads that they can't remove. (This is never explained at all.)

Four of them figure out the painful personal sacrifice they must make to avoid being dissected by the blades. One of them doesn't.

When that corpse is soon dangled over a bridge with a note on it (and a jigsaw puzzle-shaped wound on his neck), police detectives Halloran and Hunt, along with coroner Logan Nelson and assistant coroner Eleanor Bonneville, begin a frantic race against time to decipher if Jigsaw has in fact returned from the dead.

Whether the real John Kramer is somehow alive or not, however, someone's definitely murdering people in a way that mimics his macabre methods. And with each precious moment that elapses, the odds of the four remaining participants surviving these vicious traps diminishes as well.

Positive Elements

For a time, Halloran and Hunt, Logan and Eleanor seem sincerely interested in working together to unravel the mystery of this grisly new round of Jigsaw-tribute killings. Strange and unexpected clues, however, lead to suspicion that undermines their teamwork.

Spiritual Content

The Saw franchise as a whole has always induced a kind of cognitive dissonance. John Kramer has consistently sought to "help" his victims toward a kind of moral clarity regarding their souls—even as he does horrifically immoral things to their captive bodies.

And so it is again here, with Kramer's voice repeatedly telling people that if they'll only confess their sins and secrets, they will be set free. In fact, we repeatedly hear Kramer (via tape recordings littered about his torture complex) quote Jesus' words from John 8:32: "The truth will set you free." He also teases, "Salvation can be yours," if only they'll confess the truth and renounce the lies they've told themselves and others. And he says that the game will not stop until their sins have been atoned for.

Kramer's voice also delivers dollops of wisdom that the players mostly ignore (to their peril) such as, "There are no shortcuts in life." And, "In the past, you have all put your own interests in front of others. … Look in the mirror and see who you really are." Etc.

The film invites us to view the prolonged execution of its victims as a kind of retributive justice. Before the death of one person, the film's primary architect of traps and torture tells him, "I speak for the dead!"—as if he has some kind of high moral ground and the right to act as judge, jury, torturer and executioner.

(Scripture, in sharp contrast, records these words from God to His people in Exodus 32:35 (which are also quoted in Romans 12:19): "Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay." It is never the prerogative or responsibility of any individual—no matter how wronged that person might think they are—to seek vengeance upon a perpetrator, Scripture admonishes. Jigsaw and the Saw franchise as a whole lose sight of that fact, even though there's a great deal of dialogue masquerading in the guise of justice.)

Sexual Content

Both female victims wear tank tops. One of them also wears a short skirt and fishnet stockings. Once she dies, her bare breasts are very briefly glimpsed (though admittedly her torso is also split in two) as her corpse lies on the coroner's table. We also see a male corpse hanging from a bridge wearing only his underwear.

It's implied that one character has a fetish for bondage and S&M activities, and that she gets aroused by graphic violence. Someone says a woman has a "great a--" and that she's a "kinky type."

Violent Content

As is expected in this bloody franchise, really bad things happen to the folks trapped in this torturous nightmare. A man's head gets sawn in two. We don't actually see it, but we do see the gory aftermath on the coroner's table. (Indeed, several victims show up there as, essentially, nearly unrecognizable slabs of deceased human meat.) Someone else is injected with acid, causing that person's head and neck to dissolve. (Fatally, obviously.) Someone takes a shotgun blast to the head.

There's more, but I'm going to stop with the play-by-play here. Suffice it to say blades, tools and implements leave victims, well, not quite as they were. And not alive, either.

As the story progresses, we gradually learn that each person in the Jigsaw "game" has done something that resulted in the death of someone else, with different degrees of direct culpability.

[Spoiler Warning] A desperate young mother, for example, suffocates a crying infant, then places the dead child next to her sleeping husband and rolls him over on it, framing him for the death. In prison, her husband hangs himself (which we see). Another person robs a woman, stealing her purse. The victim of that crime panics and has an asthma attack she cannot stop because her inhaler is in the purloined purse. Still another victim sold a motorcycle to a young man, knowing that the brakes were bad—something that immediately results in the purchaser being hit and killed by a truck. Another person was involved in reckless behavior as a teen that resulted in three people's deaths (in a car accident we see after one person falls out of the convertible and is presumably killed).

Crude or Profane Language

Nearly 40 f-words, 20 s-words. God's name is taken in vain about a dozen times (including once with "d--n"), while Jesus' name is misused twice. We hear "h---," "d--n," "b--ch," "a--" and "a--hole two to four times each.

Drug and Alcohol Content

We repeatedly see the killer use a syringe to drug his victims. Several people smoke.

Other Negative Elements

Deception piles upon deception before this story swimming with red herrings finally plays out.


It's hard to keep a "good" movie villain down. Especially when times are as tough in Hollywood as they are right now. Horror is one of the only genres consistently making money, with big-budget tent-pole movies crashing and burning right and left. So it's no surprise that Lionsgate felt seven years was enough time since the seventh and supposedly final Saw film to, ahem, reanimate this grisly franchise.

Jigsaw does that, picking up 10 years after the death of the series chief antagonist, John Kramer. Is Kramer still alive? I'm not going to tell you. Not because I'm trying to be mean, mind you, but because, well, it really doesn't matter who is pulling the levers that send nearly all of this film's characters to their painful ends. The result is the same: a movie that pretends to care about morality and justice, but which only really exists to feed the appetites of those with a taste for so-called "torture porn."

Sure, this film—like its predecessors—makes a big show of trying to get its victims to confess their misdeeds. But it proves surprisingly difficult for people to tell the truth about their selfish choices, even when faced with the prospect of a razor-sharp end. Perhaps there's a lesson buried in here about how making self-centered choices dulls our ability to tell ourselves—or anyone else—the truth.

But I don't want to get carried away here. Is Jigsaw a morality tale? Maybe technically. Mostly, though, this reboot offers another excuse for its makers to mangle human flesh in order to reap box office rewards.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

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Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Matt Passmore as Logan Nelson; Tobin Bell as Jigsaw/John Kramer; Callum Keith Rennie as Detective Halloran; Hannah Emily Anderson as Eleanor Bonneville; Clé Bennett as Detective Keith Hunt; Laura Vandervoort as Anna Anna; Paul Braunstein as Ryan; Mandela Van Peebles as Mitch; Brittany Allen as Carly; Josiah Black as Edgar Munsen


Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig ( )





Record Label



In Theaters

October 27, 2017

On Video

January 23, 2018

Year Published



Adam R. Holz

Content Caution

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