Saw IV

Movie Review #910


Nationwide release on October 26, 2007. Horror/Mystery. This film is rated R for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture throughout, and for language. Originally rated NC-17. Runs 93 minutes. American-Canadian co-production. Director: Darren Lynn Bousman. Screenplay: Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan. Story: Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan and Thomas Fenton. Cast: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Lyriq Bent, Athena Karkanis, Justin Louis, Simon Reynolds, and Donnie Wahlberg.


By Alexander Diminiano

If I had to choose between watching “Saw IV” again and listening to Julia Gillard speak for an hour and a half, I’d pick Miss Gillard in a heartbeat. I have yet to hear a public voice more obnoxious than hers, but “Saw IV” is in and of itself a whole onslaught of annoyances.

The only thing more annoying than director Darren Lynn Bousman’s fascination with splatter is editor Kevin Greutert’s weird, rapid cutting between shots. Or maybe it’s David A. Armstrong’s bizarrely unfocused cinematography. Or maybe it’s the fact that Charlie Clouser has finally run out of ideas, having written scores now for four “Saw” movies, and has resorted to composing nothing new music-wise. Unless you say there’s some newness to arranging twenty different variations to the “Hello Zepp” theme Clouser composed for the very first “Saw”.

It’s hard to imagine that a story can stoop so low after only four movies. Or maybe I should be glad that “Saw” has lasted, though on a thread, for four movies. The script constantly attempts to remind us that Jigsaw wants his victims to appreciate their lives. But if he’s torturing them and giving them no way out, regardless of their desperation to save themselves, I think that motive’s expired.

The good news, I suppose, is that “Saw IV” returns to the detective movie setup used in the first two films. Except this time, it’s all just banal, wishy-washy dialogue during the investigation scenes. Talking, and none that we care about. The film as a whole seems a lot like a really dumbed down version of “The Silence of the Lambs”, with heavy reliance on gore and jump scares. Actually, that’s a description I could have used in my review of “Hannibal”, Ridley Scott’s “Silence of the Lambs” sequel. For those who haven’t seen it, don’t. My review overrates it, and it’s utter trash. But “Saw IV” is even worse.

There’s too much torture. Can I say that enough? Yes? No? Maybe so? Do I need “Mary Poppins” for some wholesomeness to balance out all the carnage I have just forced myself to watch? The MPAA gave “Saw IV” the R rating for “sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture throughout, and for language.” They initially gave it an NC-17, and I’m surprised they let the movie slide on an autopsy scene that occurs within the first five minutes. It’s revoltingly graphic.

There’s too much distraction in the plot, as well. By revisiting previous sets and creating flashbacks that could’ve very well happened in the deleted scenes of the previous entries, the film seem to really beat a dead horse. And as if the ADD flashing-back isn’t bad enough, try and fathom how ADD the actual story is. Through a tape recording, Jigsaw has given a police officer a choice: either he will proceed through several trials where he must watch various individuals getting mangled to oblivion in the most dementedly creative ways, or he will sit in place for 90 minutes and die. Meanwhile, the officer’s fellow policemen are investigating Jigsaw’s crimes. Also meanwhile, a man is being hung by the neck and is forced to stand on a block of ice for 90 minutes as it melts. He slips off the ice block a few times, but he gets his feet back on again. Though I can’t remember if he makes it–if he gets out of the rope by the time the ice block has melted. The plot was too unfocused and randomized for me to possibly recall such things.

Oh and there’s more cops. Some of them are trying to figure out who’s continuing Jigsaw’s legacy. They try and get to the bottom of this by interrogating Jigsaw’s wife. He never actually struck me as a married man, much less a man any woman would want to stand within fifteen feet of, but I guess I was wrong.

Check back next Monday for my “Saw V” review.