Published on October 30th, 2007 | by Erich Becker0
Review: Saw IV
How do you continue on a successful horror series when your antagonist is very, very much dead? Unlike your Friday the 13ths and Halloween movies, Saw‘s lead baddie is down for the count, for good, no crazy reincarnation, no sudden body disappearance, Jigsaw’s body is autopsied in the first scene of the latest sequel in the franchise in gruesome detail, and there’s no body coming back from that.
Still, a little problem like being worm food will not stop Jigsaw’s work, and that’s what Saw IV sets out to do for the audience, show them that even though the frail man we’ve seen deteriorate in the past three movies has finally died, his work is just beginning and the franchise lives on.
The film works as sort of a prequel and sequel to the first Saw and Saw III, respectively. We learn how John Kramer (Tobin Bell) came to be Jigsaw after a traumatic event in his life sent him over the edge, forcing those who have wasted their lives to save themselves or be flushed from society.
Saw IV‘s timeline is a big part of the movie so we’ll avoid that spoiler here, but part of the film responds to the aftermath of the previous films in the series. After Rigg (Lyriq Bent) sees the dismembered body of his former partner Kerry (Dina Meyer), who was killed in Saw III’s rip-splitting “angel trap,” he begins to question his life.
Jigsaw sets him up to perform a series of tests, to see what he sees, feel what he feels, and do what he does in order to allow people to save themselves. Throughout the film Rigg is tasked with making the choice of saving criminals or leaving them to save themselves, he has 90 minutes to pass all of his tests before several of his colleagues will die. This is the standard part of any Saw film, a person being put in an impossible situation, testing what we come out to see as a weak point in their personality and Jigsaw giving them a choice.
The second storyline in the film deals with the aforementioned flashbacks to John Kramer and his wife, Jill (Betsy Russell), and how their relationship rapidly falls apart as John begins his work as Jigsaw. We are even treated to Jigsaw’s first trap which even falls apart and fails as his subject attempts to solve it. Luckily the killer who never kills has a contingency plan, but it’s nice to see Kramer as a normal human being for a while. In fact, as the revelation of the event that caused Jigsaw to emerge is played out, you honestly feel bad for the guy, making him the most likable character in the film and the one the audience is likely to be the most sympathetic towards.
The film’s big reveal (as with the three previous entries in the series) gives the audience a lot of information to process at once. After first viewing the movie, especially with this entry, you’re likely to be more confused than anything. However, as you digest everything that happens in the final minutes, put the pieces together, you then realize that the writers have outdone themselves once again in creating a memorable way to end yet another volume in the franchise.
After it’s all said and done, Jigsaw’s taped message for Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) is very true, this was only the beginning and we’re less than a year away from finding how it all starts again.