Just when you thought it was safe enough to, uhh…, not cherish your life, here comes Saw IV to make you pay for that transgression in a film that’s convoluted, but filled with some of the most deadly death traps yet in the series. But wait! Didn’t Jigsaw and Amanda die in Saw III? Well, in an unusual bit of truth-in-advertising in a horror film series, there is no returning from the dead for Jigsaw ala Michael Myers or Jason Voorheis. Jigsaw is most assuredly dead. His skull and chest being split open by the coroner at the start of the film is proof of that. As the doctor removes John’s organs, though, he finds a micro-cassette tape inside of his stomach. Turning it over to the police, Detective Hoffman (Mandylor), finds that Jigsaw, even in death, has started yet another new game of cat & mouse…and death and torture. Also on the case is FBI profiler Agent Strahm (Patterson)
This time his target is SWAT Team Commander Rigg. Jigsaw tells Rigg he must learn to let go and realize he cannot save everyone and his game will involve Rigg trying to stick to that chilling advice. The film attempts to tie up the loose ends from the three films, particularly the second and third parts. Hoffman and Detective Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) will find themselves in one of the most elaborate traps that Jigsaw has ever devised. One that leaves Matthews hung by his neck, trying to maintain his balance on an ever melting block of ice, while Hoffman teeters on a platform over water which will be electrified should he fall.
While the first few films were generally confined to a few small sets, Saw IV spreads out over a much wider area. Rigg follows the trails as Jigsaw leads him on from his own home, to a dingy tenement, to the final, horrible trap. Jigsaw metes out his own brand of justice along the way to a prostitute caught in a device that slowly tears the scalp from her head, and to the manager of that tenement who is a sexual predator. It all climaxes as Rigg heads toward his final test, as Strahm tries to track down whoever is Jigsaw’s new accomplice. This leads into the film’s final big swerve that at first makes you scratch your head until you sit down and run through everything. Seems the filmmaker’s were playing a playing a little game with their audience as well. Witty but a little on the cheap side…
One of the things Saw IV does is lift the veil on John/Jigsaw. In essence it tries to humanize him. Through flashbacks we see John as a doctor and also married. His wife Jill (Betsy Russell) will become Strahm’s primary suspect as John’s accomplice. The benevolent couple opens a clinic to treat substance abusers and John’s seen as a rather OK guy. John is even preparing to be a new father when his wife loses the baby when one of the drug addicts robs the clinic. He’ll eventually play the first of Jigsaw’s devious games. Not sure I really wanted to see John’s history. Can you really turn such a twisted psycho into a sympathetic character? It didn’t work for me and frankly it defied logic. Why does a man who claims to cherish life so much have little regard for it?
On the positive side, Saw’s traps are the most gruesome yet. Clever and bloody, they continue to devise new and interesting ways to kill. But I have to wonder if they are just hastily building a story around the traps instead of the other way around. Saw has been a remarkably popular franchise but this is good time to close the book on it.
The DVD comes with two audio commentaries. One with Director Darren Lynn Bousman and Actor Lyriq Bent, and the other with Producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg and Executive Producers Jason Constantine and Peter Block.
Darren’s Video Diary runs 32:00 and is Director Darren Lynn Bousman’s journal of the film’s production.
The Traps of Saw IV examines the creation of all of the film’s traps and tortures. 15:00
The Props of Saw IV looks at the various props used by the special effects team 9:00
There is one short, meaningless deleted scene and a music video by “X Japan”