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  Saw IV

Starring: Scott Patterson, Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Justin Louis

Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman

Produced by: Oren Koules, Mark Burg, Gregg Hoffman

Written by: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunston, Thomas Fenton

Distributor: Lionsgate


“If it’s Halloween, it must be Saw.”

     The above tagline is the sole selling-point that Lionsgate Films has successfully launched the release of Saw IV on. The studio didn’t even bother to waste its money on assembling a full-length trailer to promote the film; it merely relied on the name-recognition offered by a short teaser ad to sell the whopping $32 million worth of tickets that it did over this past weekend.

     This all concerns me deeply when I consider the fact that Saw IV is one of the most disturbingly unnecessary pictures of recent memory. The movie bargains all of its “scares” on gruesome depictions of the sadomasochistic torture of innocent human beings. That such a large portion of American moviegoers embrace and respond to this type of material is a valid reason to worry about the direction that our society is headed in.

     Since when are blood, guts, and violence haunting in and of themselves, as Saw IV would like the viewer to believe? The only thing that frightens me about this movie is the possibly profound effect that it will have on the minds of the hoards of teenagers that sneak into see it. (On that note, the fact that the film was rated R and not NC-17 by the MPAA is yet another example of the organization’s irresponsible tendency to turn a blind eye to violence in cinema.) This is not a horror movie by any stretch of the imagination; it is an offensive, vile exercise in torture-porn.

     After despising the original Saw (although I admit it was not nearly as terrible as its sequels), I decided to not watch any more films in the series. Unfortunately for me, all of the installments in the franchise have been highly monetarily successful and, as a result, I felt critically obligated to see Saw IV. Of course, this decision led me to force myself to view Saw II and Saw III, also horrendous cinematic monstrosities, as a means of preparing for the latest entry.

     One (and, I stress, one) thing that can be said for the writers of the Saw series (this time, they are Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan) is that, with each passing installment, they somehow still inventively find new villains within a relatively small established circle of characters. Regardless, this “gift” does little to add to Saw IV. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), the previous villain, and his accomplice, Amanda (Shawnee Smith), died at the end of Saw III, making it necessary for a new bad guy to arise in part four.When he/she’s identity is unveiled at the end of the film, the revelation comes as somewhat of a surprise, but doesn’t really pack much of a punch because of the context in which it is presented. Jigsaw is in so much of Saw IV through flashbacks that we hardly even forget he’s gone. Not to mention, the sense of his presence is furthered even more when it is revealed that much of Saw IV unfolds concurrently to Saw III (at least as far as my befuddled mind can figure), which took place when Jigsaw was alive.

     A few new “torture games” are invented in this outing for the purpose of keeping fans of the series entertained, but these will disgust most casual viewers. Saw IV’s central plot involves protagonist Rigg (Lyriq Bent) being forced to carry out yet another one of Jigsaw’s infamous plans, which requires him to conduct a series of violent acts in a specified amount of time in order to save his dear friend and co-worker, Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) from the previous Saws, from being killed.

     Saw IV leaves a lot of room for a Saw V to be made, and its humongous opening weekend box office take has sealed the deal. Next Halloween will (unfortunately) bring the release of another installment in the franchise, much to the delight of the dangerously susceptible minds of the high-school seniors that continue to feed the series’ success. Will I see the film? Hopefully not, but given the fact that it will likely be every bit the hit that its predecessors have been, I will probably feel (as was the case with part four) the critical duty to subject myself to its sure-fire atrociousness. All that I can pray for is that director Darren Lynn Bousman brings to life a slightly less gross vision next time around, a shot in the dark at best.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 10.29.2007

Screened on: 10.27.2007 at the Edwards San Marcos 18 in San Marcos, CA.


Saw IV is rated R and runs 92 minutes.

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