Saw IV

*Disclaimer* If you haven’t seen the first three Saw films the following review will spoil those films, there is no possible way to review this without doing so.
Well after the end of the last film, it seemed as if the story had been told and that was that. Well no, when there is a will there is a way (and damn the series is making money by this point), so despite ‘Jigsaw’ being very well dead, the games are continuing. Starting off with ‘Jigsaw’s autopsy, they find a tape in his stomach (and yes it is all very gross, take that CSI!), addressed to Det. Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). It is clear that things aren’t over, as another body is discovered. The feds are called in (Scott Patterson and Athena Karkanis), and they come to the conclusion that perhaps ‘Jigsaw’ and Amanda did not work alone. This seems more evident and SWAT member Rigg (Lyriq Bent) is lured in to play a game. While the fed’s continue investigating this leads them to ‘Jigsaw’s ex Jill (Betsy Russell), who reveals more about his past and how the games started. Meanwhile Hoffman gets pulled into the game that Rigg is apart of as well as the missing Eric Matthews (Donnie Walhberg). Who has taken over from ‘Jigsaw’? Watch to find out!
Yes, there is so much going on with Saw IV, there is a lot to process and with so much going on it was hard to keep focus. It is more than evident that the script has been handled by someone different (Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan), and they are almost desperate to find a way to keep the series going. Thank goodness for Bousman who agreed to one last Saw film, as he does make this work better than it probably should have. The problem I had mostly was that there was too much happening, it became confusing at times, and especially at the end when it all came together. Piecing together this puzzle was a lot more intricate then the previous films and it really didn’t need to be. I understand the need to tie it in with the rest of the series, but it became a bit too much, and I am not entirely sure the time lines played out actually make sense. What I did like however was that seemingly unrelated events (a trap shown at the beginning which was so messed up) actually made perfect sense later on and played a good part in the story. Saw IV I felt made the same mistake as part II, having far too many characters. It actually became hard to keep up with everyone and it was hard to care when the bad things started to happen. At the core there were two stories to be told here, that of Jill and ‘Jigsaw’ and that of Rigg. These two stories keep the film moving, while it is interesting to find out more about ‘Jigsaw’ and give a reason to keep using Tobin Bell, it wasn’t altogether necessary. Rigg has a lot of stuff to go through, and in so little time, he’s trying to work his way through it all and knowing that lives hang in the balance. There is some mighty messed up stuff going on, this one turned out to be one wild ride.
Much like the other films, Saw IV had solid performances all round. So far I have found that to be a good consistent trait with the films, the real stand outs here for me were Scott Patterson and Lyriq Bent. Both these men have characters that are going through two different types of hell, and I bought it. With Agent Strahm struggling to get answers from Jill, to seeing that more games are being played with Rigg being a pawn, he’s certainly got his work cut out for him. Rigg is clearly a pawn, you know after having seen three films there is more going on then we are being let on. He’s continuing the work without even realising that he is, there is so much at play with what he’s doing. Bent was sympathetic in his role, his character has been through so much, and it’s hard not to cheer him on and hope he gets through it. Betsy Russell was quite good as Jill, there was something about her, it just worked. Tobin Bell by now is always tops, as I said in previous reviews this is his role and he can play it in his sleep. Costas Mandylor was really good as well, he has this mysterious essence about him and I dug it. Donnie Walhberg wasn’t given much to do, and I felt sad for him actually. Justin Louis (Col. Young for Stargate: Universe) as the lawyer who has more connections than a USB hub was pretty good, seeing him in that trap at the beginning was horrific. Everyone one else was solid, not really any particularly bad performances here.
The films suffers that desperate feel, whether or not this was planned, I don’t know. It felt like the way to go to keep the series going though, having introduced us to Hoffman in part 3, there was at least someone left who could continue the investigation. As I mentioned this just has too much going on, and it’s an even bigger puzzle to piece together. The way it ended still confuses me, I’ll have to investigate further on the time lines for all the films. It isn’t a bad film, but it is the weakest of the films so far. I still have 5 and 6 to see, so that opinion might change. It is still quite solid, but not really necessary viewing. It is easy to just stop with the first three, but if you want to see more traps and gore and messed up situations this wont let you down. The effects are still top notch, the sets are still fantastic and this film especially gave off this grimy feel which definitely added to the mood. This wasn’t the train wreck I was expecting, it actually turned out to be a lot better with my low expectations.
Saw IV was part of my Horror Films For October, you can find the entire list here.

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