I still remember seeing Saw and Saw II for the first time and realizing how amazing they were. Yet, I was unhappy with Saw III along with many others for reasons being: it focused more on violence than plot, there was no twist, and the ending was very unsatisfying.
I know for a fact I wasn't the only person who thought the "Saw" franchise was officially over, judging by the very disappointing third film...yet, I still possessed a strange love for these films and couldn't wait to see the fourth when it hit theaters. I wasn't expecting a masterpiece at all...but I got one.
"Saw IV" is not the average horror flick. If you're a Saw fan that likes the series for its blood and guts, you're going to despise it. If you're not willing to completely concentrate on the film's every little detail, you're going to despise it. If you feel like just kicking back, watching a nice gory horror film, and not spending a night analyzing the film, racking your brain until you drive yourself insane, you're going to despise this film. Quite honestly, that's why so many people hate this film: because they were expecting something completely different. Make no mistake--the Saw franchise as we know it is now going in a completely different direction.
Here's where the line's drawn between Saw IV and it's predecessors. With the deaths of two main characters in Saw III, you can't possibly think of how Saw IV could really be close to a decent film. Instead of a basic storyline of traps, unlucky individuals who don't appreciate their lives, and suspenseful jump scenes, Saw IV delivers a completely different premise: it's darker, edgier, scarier, more complex, more intricately designed, and more controversial than its predecessors. In some ways, the most horrifying thing about the film is instead of watching people being tested on screen--YOU, as a viewer, are tested--challenged to see what Jigsaw sees, feel what Jigsaw feels...judge how Jigsaw judges. The traps aren't there to entertain, or to make you recoil in disgust...they're there to make you THINK.
Even if you don't want to, or don't feel like it, Saw IV will whisk you away into a land of nightmare where you're forced to make the choices to what happens to the individuals on screen--you're the one in control. By the end of the movie, you'll be so shaken up you won't be able to move. For me, this one "Saw IV" HUGE points because it's actually scary, unlike II and III! It's not a body-count movie--it's a riveting, mind-boggling psychological thriller in the sense of the first film. The film feels like it balances a huge amount of plot and story and a huge amount of gore and ends up taking the cake. The film is exceptionally, brutally violent (even more so than Saw III) and some scenes are very, very disturbing--not because they are violent, but because stuff so horrifying is happening you just want to vomit your brains out. Saw IV is NOT for the faint of heart and there is some very disturbing sexual violence in one scene and another massively disturbing scene where five people in my theater got up and left...and this scene has haunted me since I came out of my theater.
Though horror veterans James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the original creators of Saw, did not write Saw IV--it almost seems better. Darren Lynn Bousman's exquisite directing incorporates a dire sense of urgency throughout the whole film, making it feel like you're watching a "24" episode.
I will warn you now the ending will confuse the hell out of you, which apparently is another reason for people to completely, wrongly condemn this film. Me and my friends spent a good two hours discussing the film afterwards and it made much more sense to us. Be prepared to watch this film with an open mind and be ready for some serious post-viewing discussion afterwards. The ending is very much like that of "The Prestige," and you may have a desire to watch "Saw IV" again the minute it ends.
If you're a Saw fan that was disappointed with the lack of psychological horror in Saw II and Saw III---fear not. Saw IV has what you're looking for and will take you to hell and back...but hold onto your dinner. I have no idea how this film made it past the MPAA without an NC-17 rating. Along with your dinner, try to hold onto your sanity while watching the film...good luck with that.
Enjoy which, is in my opinion, one of the best treats of the 2007 movie season.