Director – Darren Lynn Bousman
Cast – Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Lyriq Bent, Athena Karkanis, Justin Louis, Donnie Wahlberg
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
After the events of Saw III, many of us figured the Jigsaw saga was over, and rightfully so. The ending of Saw III was fulfilling, and seemed like a great way to end one of the greatest horror trilogies there is. Of course because these films continue to make money and bring big returns, the producers are going to milk this series as long as they can. Already the verge of the debut of Saw VI, there is already a Saw VII in the works. Eventually these guys have to stop, right? Nonetheless, I was surprised to find Saw IV to be a very positive addition to this series, especially given the fact that I thought it impossible to continue the story after Saw III. But as we all should know by now, never doubt Jigsaw because “this is only the beginning”.
Jigsaw and his apprentice Amanda are dead, and during Jigsaw’s autopsy a wax-coated tape is found in his stomach, a tape addressed to Detective Hoffman(who was a Detective and Forensics Analyst in Saw III). Meanwhile, SWAT Leader Rigg(who was SWAT Leader in Saw II and Saw III) is the only major player in the police force who has yet to be thrown into one of Jigsaw’s games, until now. Being the “life saver” that he is, he is forced into a twisted game to test his abilities to refrain from always being a hero, a game that will determine whether or not his old buddy Detective Matthews(who starred in Saw II, and appeared in Saw III during flashbacks) will survive Jigsaw’s trap. One the other hand, two FBI agents have been assigned to the Jigsaw case to see if they can solve what the local authorities have failed to accomplish, stopping the “games”. Of course, Jigsaw being the genius that he is, has a plan for these two agents who plan to interfere with his work.
As you can tell from my synopsis for the film, if you have not seen Saw II or Saw III, you will not understand this film. At all! Sure there are flashbacks to add some background to what is going on, but without seeing the two previous installments you will most likely stop watching the film halfway through. It would be like watching Memento or 21 Grams without watching the first half of the film. You might as well do something else with your time.
The story in this film, although convoluted at times, really appealed to me, and showed the genius behind this film’s writers. I really thought that there was no interesting way of continuing the series after Saw III, but these two writers made it happen and with positive results. The film’s writers, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunston are no strangers to the horror scene. They first broke into the horror realm in 2005 with the epic film Feast, which is one of the few films I have given a 10-rating to. Of course they went on to later write Feast II and Feast III, which were utter pieces of crap, but for the most part these guys are legit. The fact that this story does not necessarily include Jigsaw in present form(he is dead) makes this even more interesting. Mainly appearing in flashbacks throughout the film, Jigsaw’s scenes give us more insight into why he does what he does. It was very interesting to learn more about his past and what it was that led him to become the person he became. Saw III went a little into Jigsaw’s history, but this film hit it head on, and it was probably necessary if the film’s producers wanted this series to continue. Because this story is so complex, it does come with some disadvantages. For one, you don’t feel as much for the film’s characters because they are sharing so much screen time with the other major characters. Rigg came off to me as the person you are to care for the most, and actually, he is probably the only character you really care for. The rest are unlikable, but that may be what they were meant to be to us given the film’s ending. Speaking of the ending, I personally enjoyed it. It was complex, but it made complete sense and most likely took a lot of time to get right. Of course, this is not my first time seeing this film, and that helps. When I first viewed this flick it had been nearly two years since I watched Saw III(I saw it in theaters in 2005), so all of the happenings of Saw III were not completely fresh in my mind. This second time I viewed this film I had a much better understanding of the ending because I viewed Saw III only a few days before this film. This will cause problems for some who do not remember Saw III as much, but nonetheless this film’s climax is awesome.
Once again, the Saw franchise was lucky enough to get director Darren Lynn Bousman to return for this film. After very positive jobs with Saw II and Saw III, Mr. Bousman did another fantastic job with this film, fulfilling a trilogy of his own. His direction in this film is much cleaner than his previous efforts. The editing is not as dark and choppy, but much smoother and finely polished. I do believe his previous editing worked for his other films because they themselves are dark films, but to see something different with this one worked great given this film really is something different compared to it’s predecessors. His pacing was great as well. I was never bored or unsatisfied with how this film moved. We get the right amount of tension at the right places and the interesting storyline is well adapted to the screen for us to marvel at. And of course, he stayed true to form and brought on the gore! I really loved the traps in this film. They were creative and had much more splatterful(I’m making up words) results than the traps in the previous films. Thank you Mr. Bousman.
Overall, this is a great addition to the Saw franchise and manages to keep the Jigsaw saga interesting and fulfilling to it’s fans. Check this out you are a fan of these films, or would like to see how creative writing can do the impossible and resurrect a horror icon.