Jigsaw and his apprentice Amanda are dead. Now, upon the news of Detective Kerry's murder, two seasoned FBI profilers, Agent Strahm and Agent Perez, arrive in the terrified community to ... See full summary »
Following Jigsaw's grisly demise, Mark Hoffman, the final apprentice to the serial killer is deigned a hero. Meanwhile, Agent Strahm continues to track Hoffman while another group of strangers are put through a series of gruesome traps.
As a deadly battle rages over Jigsaw's brutal legacy, a group of Jigsaw survivors gathers to seek the support of self-help guru and fellow survivor Bobby Dagen, a man whose own dark secrets unleash a new wave of terror.
With a dead body laying between them, two men wake up in the secure lair of a serial killer who's been nicknamed "Jigsaw". The men must follow various rules and objectives if they wish to survive and win the deadly game set for them.
Desperate to repay his debt to his ex-wife, an ex-con plots a heist at his new employer's country home, unaware that a second criminal has also targeted the property, and rigged it with a series of deadly traps.
Jigsaw and his apprentice Amanda are dead. Now, upon the news of Detective Kerry's murder, two seasoned FBI profilers, Agent Strahm and Agent Perez, arrive in the terrified community to assist the veteran Detective Hoffman in sifting through Jigsaw's latest grisly remains and piecing together the puzzle. However, when SWAT Commander Rigg is abducted and thrust into a game, the last officer untouched by Jigsaw has but ninety minutes to overcome a series of demented traps and save an old friend or face the deadly consequences. Written by
Without a doubt, Saw has become an absolute phenomenon. I find it quite impressive how a small $1 million horror film garnered strong word of mouth and made it big, spawning a franchise which has become Lionsgate Films' yearly bread and butter. I've really enjoyed the Saw films and have been there since the beginning, viewing the first film on opening day in the UK. It was refreshing to see something original and to my surprise, the sequel, Saw II was just as good. However, the third instalment (still good) showed signs of clutching at straws.
SWAT Commander Rigg (Lyriq Bent) has become obsessed with finding Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), particularly since his fellow officers have died via his sadistic games. However, Jigsaw finds Rigg and has him play his own game. With two of his colleagues, Officer Matthews and Hoffman (Donnie Wahlberg, Costas Mandylor) held captive in one of Jigsaw's traps, Rigg has 90 minutes to try and find them. Meanwhile FBI Agents Strahm and Perez (Scott Patterson, Athena Karkanis) question Jigsaw's ex-wife Jill (Betsy Russell) in an effort to uncover Jigsaw's mysterious accomplice.
Saw IV is a sequel that is struggling to stay consistent with the numerous plot strands and filling up of plot holes. It almost feels like an extreme connect the dots puzzle as one tries to piece together all the characters and incidents from the previous instalments. Even when watching it, I could already imagine Internet forums swarming with hundreds of questions.
What made the first film so unique was that the victims are often people who essentially deserved to be punished, be they drug dealers or con artists frantically trying to save themselves from the macabre situation they were in. With Jigsaw as judge, jury and executioner, do we as an audience side with his objective, or do we sympathise with the wrongdoing victim during their last few seconds before they die a fantastic death? As the sequels have progressed, saving oneself appears to have been completely abandoned, for in the third instalment as well as this one, some victims simply have to wait to depend upon someone to help them. Also some supposedly innocent (?) people are dragged in (the guy with his eyes sewn shut is involved in the film's best trap, but who the hell was he?), while some injured victims are merely swept aside and we never know if they live or die.
In an effort to try and make a bigger sequel, games are no longer in one confined space, but set in different locations across the city, pushing 'suspension of disbelief' to the limit. For example, Rigg's apartment is turned upside-down within a matter of minutes, with blood on the walls, pictures hanging from the ceiling and how someone managed to get a scalping chair up there without anyone noticing is beyond me! Some may like the distancing from the previous movies, but for me this is a slight shift towards conventional slasher movies.
Acting wise, it's rather mediocre. Apart from Tobin Bell, quite a bankable name now because of the Saw franchise, a number of small stars litter the film and help keep the costs down. For me, the only other name that stands out is Donnie Wahlberg, and even he is somewhat wasted.
As expected, it's reliant on flashbacks, some of which made me feel like I was watching a soap opera rather than a horror. However director Darren Lynn Bousman does fulfil on account of gore, pushing Saw IV with 'in-your-face' violence and close ups that probably wouldn't have passed through the BBFC with an uncut 18 certificate five years ago.
If you've been following the franchise then you can't help but be roped along for the ride. I certainly was. For something that was written, shot, edited and practically gift-wrapped all inside one year, it still works. It's just a shame that what was once so original three years ago now feels stale with hardly anything new to offer. Hell, there aren't even any jumpy moments! Given the rush-job nature at dishing out sequels, maybe they'll have more fun at turning it into some kind of weekly/monthly TV series.
I really do hope that this is the last one, because really now, enough is enough. But as Jigsaw says, "the games have just begun."
Rating five out of ten.
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