So… another year, another Saw. Whilst I appreciate that it serves as a handy cash cow for all those involved, Saw is one of the more interesting horror franchises in existence. Rather than simply duplicating what came before, the narrative has actually progressed over the series. Film number IV sees the mythos getting even more complex, and whilst overall a better film than its immediate predecessor, it still lacks the ‘wow’ factor seen in the first two films.
As I see it, the main problem is that Jigsaw’s little game has simply gotten too complicated. The planning that has gone into the huge list of traps is now so far beyond believability that it’s hard to truly get excited by the franchise any more. Plus, how does someone keep tabs on so many people deserving punishment? This film has FBI agent Rigg (from the last two films) running around the entire city discovering traps, and it’s simply too much. My reaction is hardly a surprise when you consider I felt the first Saw was marred by the extraneous plotting, and should have simply stayed within the confines of that bathroom.
Of course we learn more of Jigsaw’s past here, and in fact spend a lot of time jumping forwards and backwards in order to (sort of) get the story straight. I really had trouble keeping up this time, and perhaps it would have been easier if I’d watched Saw III again beforehand. Then again, should I really have to?
Tobin Bell really gets to shine here, especially as we see Jigsaw in a different light, and not just in psycho mode. None of the rest of the cast stands out. There are a lot of characters to keep track of this time around, and it doesn’t help that two of the actors (Scott Patterson and Costas Mandylor) look remarkably similar. This certainly isn’t the type of film to zone out in, and it makes you work hard to keep up.
The traps are okay… though it seems that too many people succeed in escaping only to fail anyway. The same gore combined with super fast editing is apparent, and to be frank, it’s getting a little old.
Saw IV admirably continues the meta-narrative, but doesn’t really impress as a film in isolation. We don’t care about the characters, nor is the setup exciting the way it was in the first two films.Rating: