Theatrical Review: Saw IV

Even after his death, and he is clearly dead at the start of the film, the legacy of the Jigsaw killer, John Kramer lives on, with more mysterious murders happening in which the victims are forced through some sort of personal mutilation to save themselves.  This becomes very personal to Rigg, the leader of the SWAT team who’s been in on the Jigsaw case from the very beginning.  Rigg, finds that he must now play Jigsaw’s game himself in order to save he woman he loves, and his way of doing so involves having to see the world the way Jigsaw does.  The mystery of the Jigsaw legacy deepens as two FBI agents become involved in the case, looking to track down whoever they believe Jigsaw’s confederate to be, including Kramer’s former wife…

Saw IV is of course the continuation of the series begun by James Wan and Leigh Whannell with Saw and this movie, like Saw 2 and Saw 3 before it is directed by returning director Darren Lynn Bousman. I, for one, enjoy these movies immensely, yeah, they’re over-the-top extreme horror, but they’re fun puzzle movies as well, all with great twist endings and Saw IV is no exception to that rule.  I actually call this the Godfather 2 of the Saw movies, because this is both a prequel and a sequel in one, telling us the story described above as well as flashing back to the origins of Jigsaw.

I give Bousman, Wan and Whannell huge credit here for turning this series into an absolute horror epic, especially with this fourth movie, which refers to events from all of the past films coming full circle here and even ready to move into new territory by it’s end.  Being a fan of this sort of extreme horror, I’m very much looking forward to the day when I can sit back and watch all four of these in a sitting.

Bousman’s direction is as stylish as it’s been from the start, and I do hope he gets the opportunity to one day ply his talents to a different movie, but it’s pretty clear to me that he’s enjoying what he’s setting up here as well.

As always, I tend to think that they get a good group of actors in these films, no big names, but solid talents who get the job done.  Returning here are actors Lyriq Bent as Rigg and Costas Mandylor as Detective Hoffman (seen in Saw 3 as well as other familiar faces from the series.  And of course, even though John Kramer is dead, veteran character actor Tobin Bell is back as Kramer in the flashback sequences and doing a fine job at that.  Special note has to be given to one of the new players here, TV actor Scott Patterson, who plays FBI agent Strahm.  He’s got a real serious Alec Baldwin type of intensity about him, and while I’m not that familiar with his TV work (the way I understand it, he’s been on Gilmore Girls and he’s done the voice of the King Faraday character on Justice League Unlimited), I definitely think the guy’s got a future in film.

I can only really recommend this film to those that have seen and enjoyed the prior three movies, it’s story is so integral to what has come before that anyone wanting to start the series with this film would be hopelessly lost trying to get caught up on all of the events, especially as they come together at the end.  But for you folks, like me, who are fans of the series, don’t hesitate for a moment… this is fun stuff, and it’ll make you want to watch everything again.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

06. November 2007 by Darren Goodhart
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