The ‘Saw’ Movies in Review: ‘Saw IV’
After some initial confusion with putting on Saw VI instead of Saw IV we got onto the previously unseen (by me) portion of this marathon. The second film was certainly a stumble, but the third one ended on a seriously strong note, plus a cliffhanger, that made us actually keen to see where they were going next.
And onto the next! Also…spoilers. Not even going to hold back.
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Cast: Tobin Bell, Scott Patterson, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Lyriq Bent, Justin Louis, Betsy Russell
Plot: During the autopsy of Jigsaw’s corpse a new micro-tape is found addressed to police detective Hoffman. Hoffman and FBI Agents Strahm and Perez are all pursuing this new lead when Lieutenant Rigg gets caught up in a new, more complex game.
Review: First of all, our hope that they’d focus more on the psychological rather than the gore was somewhat dashed by the gruesome autopsy scene the movie opens with. The idea that Jigsaw hid a final tape in his own stomach is pretty nifty, but the whole scene feels gratuitous. Fortunately the tone shifts back to the psychological as the movie gets going proper.
Strangely we don’t pick up with Jeff (Angus Macfayden) who was left having to find his daughter, but get taken on a completely different plot thread. The body of Kerry (Dina Meyer), who was killed in the third film, is discovered and we see her colleague Rigg (Bent) growing increasingly distressed by everyone around him falling victim to Jigsaw and his apprentices. He becomes the next player, being confronted by a series of situations where he has to free or entrap victims in Jigsaw’s games. In one case he has to rig a serial rapist into a game and leave him to get himself out. They’re all designed to challenge Rigg’s new obsession with trying to save everyone he can while possibly grooming him to become a new apprentice.
The final test involves Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg), Hoffman (Mandylor) and a lawyer named Art Blank (Louis) linked together in a trap whose result depends on Rigg. What’s most interesting here is that when all the players converge at the final location we see Jeff turn up (and yes, spoilers) and discover that Rigg’s game is running at the same time as Jeff’s. To sum up, Saw III and Saw IV take place concurrently with the autopsy being shown ahead of time.
Not going to lie, we were quite impressed by this twist. At first we were just confused as to why we hadn’t heard about Jeff when he was last seen sealed in with Jigsaw’s corpse and the police had found that in the warehouse. All the loose ends get tied together in a rather nifty twist that must’ve taken some seriously planning. Wan and Whannel played this well.
One of the steps backwards is that we’re fast running out of interesting characters. Apart from Riggs we don’t get any information about the other victims, they’re just ‘bad people’. The lawyer gets introduced as a victim in a trap then played of as an apprentice, so it’s no surprise when it turns out he isn’t – plus they played that card in the first film. Hoffman and Rigg were both bit parts in the previous instalments, so elevating them to centre stage feels like they’re scraping the barrel.
Along the way we get some flashbacks detailing how John Kramer (Bell) went from a regular guy to the Jigsaw – the process of getting Jiggy, if you will. As much as I detest prequels, this was welcome simply because the series has been raising more questions than answers. How he is able to build these traps and what were the events that shaped his worldview is worth exploring. Hopefully they get around to explaining his bottomless pockets next.
This turned out to be a really solid companion piece to the third film. Having two movies run on the same timeline was surprisingly well implemented. It’s just a shame there was so little connection to the characters. Jeff’s situations was much more sympathetic than Riggs, and the whole ice-block see-saw thing was a bit contrived, so this one is the weaker of the two-parter. It was sneaky making the opening scene the cliffhanger for the end…curious as to where we’re going next.
Rating: SIX out of TEN.
MOST HORRIFIC TRAP: Many of the traps in this outing proved to be more interesting than horrific. The rapist in the pulley trap was more about Riggs than the actual trap, otherwise it might’ve stood out more. Then there’s the blinded and muted guys attached to the winch, which pitted them against each other without being able to communicate which was, again more interesting than horrific.
No, this one is going to the scalping machine simply because it looked SO DAMNED PAINFUL. The shots of her hair being wound through the cogs was straight up freaky.