Review: SAW IV (2007) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Review: SAW IV (2007)


Okay, so both the notorious killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and his equally sinister apprentice, Amanda (Shawnee Smith) are dead for good and everything is pretty much wrapped up in last year's SAW III. I mean, really, there's nothing left to tell the story to move the hugely profitable franchise forward but SAW III became a huge hit for the third time in the row and the filmmakers can't resist not to put the series to rest once and for all. That's right, the SAW franchise has now officially becomes the same old horror-movie franchise that won't stop coming into theaters until, at least, the series goes straight to DVD market. And it's a huge pity, because not surprisingly, SAW IV has easily turns out as the worst entry thus far (reportedly the filmmakers wanted to make the fifth and sixth installment back-to-back) and anyone expecting the same grisly torture-porn fun and mind-boggling twists will be sorely disappointed. The creative juice is entirely dry out right here.

Picking up where SAW III has left off, Jigsaw is dead, as the film opens with a stomach-churning autopsy sequence in which the coroner is carving his skull wide open as well as ripping off his flesh to reveal his inner stomach. Deep inside, he finds a cassette tape that Jigsaw managed to swallow before he was killed at the end of the third film. And right there during the autopsy stood remaining investigator of the gruesome case is Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), who later played the tape where the recording indicating that Jigsaw has yet setting up another game of torture. As the film progresses, one of the last remaining investigators, the SWAT commander named Rigg is soon becomes the latest victim of Jigsaw's grisly game after he gets knocked out unconscious in his home by a sinister figure in a pig mask. When he wakes up in a bathtub and later discovers a trademark Jigsaw video proving that Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg), who is previously locked up in a room at the end of SAW II (2005), and has been missing for the last six months isn't really dead yet. In fact, Jigsaw is given Rigg an exact 90 minutes to find not only Eric, who is hanged on the ceiling with his bare feet touching on a block of melting ice with his neck clamped tight by manacle, but also Hoffman, who is strapped to the chair next to him and that he will be electrocuted in the puddle of melted ice. Jigsaw knows Rigg inside out, particularly Rigg's passion of never-say-die attitude, and forced him to make tough "moral" choice that challenge his instinct to save as many innocent people as he can. Meanwhile, FBI special agents Strahm (Scott Patterson of TV's Gilmore Girls) and Perez (Athena Karkanis) discovers the remains of the serial-killer expert Kerry (Dina Meyer), who had her rib cage torn wide open midway through SAW III, and comes to a conclusion that Jigsaw might had a third accomplice assisting him. It's certainly makes sense since Jigsaw was too weak, given to his cancer-stricken condition, and his sidekick, Amanda was too small to lift up Kerry up into the elaborate contraption that killed her in the first place. So they brought in Jigsaw's ex-wife, Jill (Betsy Russell) for questioning and here, we are treated to a constant flashbacks-within-flashbacks of how the once-normal John Kramer slowly turns into Jigsaw.

A word of warning, though: Those who never watched the previous three installment will have their head scratched trying to make sense what's going on here because SAW IV revisited many parts of what has gone before and elaborating them for more. Though credits should be given to writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, who has no doubt trying very hard to come up such a complicated storyline, they are obviously making the colossal mistake: Who really wants to watch the same thing over and over again where the previous agenda has already resolved in the first place? To make things worst, they goes several steps backward by providing an extended backstory of how John Kramer becomes Jigsaw. From here, it is so downright pathetic that we are forced to swallow the fact Jigsaw is actually a "sympathetic" figure who really doesn't wants to become the heartless person he's not meant to be. Apparently after he discovers his then-pregnant wife suffers internal bleeding due to a crack addict breaks into her clinic, he finds the society is very cruel and he came to a conclusion that those who don't appreciate their own life will be teach a grisly lesson.

Boo-hoo! There are just too many flashbacks going back and forth, and those who is hardly paying attention will be ultimately lost. Frankly, it's all entirely needless with just too many character over-cramming one plot after another you'll have trouble trying to figure who anybody is that can fit as least two films.

If that's not insulting enough, director Darren Lynn Bousman has obviously losing his creative touch to come up any sense of grisly fun of the torture sequences. Despite all the goriness, it's hardly shocking anymore. Then there's the annoying fact the film never learned and yet continues to exaggerated the same old mistake: it's more frenetically cut than ever before, with frequent jump cut that seems like a cut-and-paste rushed job, while it's also so dimly lit you hardly to tell which is which.

The elaborate cast, in the meantime, are greatly reduced to such forgettable characters that we are barely register to their action.

But none comes worst than Tobin Bell himself, who is plain creepy in the previous three SAW series. Here, he's a pathetic bore and also no longer as scary as before. Does the filmmakers never ever learned the first rule of the thumb on making a great horror film is not to reveal so much of the killer's identity?

And oh yeah, the infamous mind-boggling twist remains in place here: You just need a wide suspension of disbelief to accept the final surprise of who turns out to be the third accomplice at the end of the film, which paves way for further sequel.

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