Saw IV

dir: Darren Lynn Bousman
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This movie is fucking awful. I can’t sugarcoat it, I don’t have some other witty or vaguely amusing way to intro this review or to prepare the prospective viewer. This flick is terrible from beginning to end. But don’t think for a second that it’s consistently terrible, or that it maintains a steady tone of terribleness throughout. It starts off bad and keeps getting increasingly shittier and more nonsensical as it wears you down and just makes you want to die.

If you were ever a fan of these movies, you’re going to doubt your own judgement after watching this piece of abject shite. You are, or at least should be, wondering just how dumb you might be for ever having defended them to anyone.

Oh my good gods does it stink. It is horribly directed, the editing is irritating and confusing, the acting is shitty, the dialogue and script are atrocious and it just looks and plays out like something cobbled together from the collected deleted scenes from the other three movies in the Saw franchise.

It’s not the premise alone that pissed me off, since I didn’t go in set against it from the start. Though the Jigsaw Killer (Tobin Bell) is dead as of the end of the third movie, the fourth opens with a pathologist conducting a gruesome autopsy on his body. He finds a cassette tape in the guy’s stomach, and calls the police.

Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) and some other cops blah blah blah in their search for clues to blah blah blah. Two FBI agents (one of them horribly acted by Scott Pattersen, who now has the dubious honour of having supplied the Worst Performance in a Saw movie) search for more victims or for the cop played by Donnie Wahlberg who went missing in the second movie, presumed dead, or for Hitler’s Gold, I’m not sure exactly.

The twist is, and I have no shame or reluctance in spoiling the ‘big’ twist, is that everything that happens from then on was occurring concurrently with the events of the third film. The discovery of the tape and the calling of the cop is actually the end of the fourth film, and probably the beginning of the fifth, if they have the lack of shame and human dignity required to continue this worthless franchise.

The other big twist is meant to be that someone else was helping Jigsaw and Amanda (Shawnee Smith) during all three of the other movies. I don’t have the heart to spoil that, just to say it doesn’t fucking matter who it is: you just became dumber by even wondering who it might be.

A minor police character from the other movies is singled out for education in this one, being Rigg (Lyriq Bent). For reasons that are unfathomable, Jigsaw, prior to his apparent death, selected Rigg for the kind of educational experience that he’s been gifting people with since the beginning.

See, if you’re lucky enough never to have watched any of these films, Jigsaw was a guy who didn’t like it when people wasted their lives. Be it through addiction, cheating on one’s spouse, or being a criminal, Jigsaw used to like putting people in an almost impossible and lethal position, from which they’d have to make a hard choice in order to survive. The choice usually entailed either killing someone else or permanently maiming themselves in order to survive.

I know the public educational systems of many countries are struggling for new ways to motivate students with decreasing resources, but really, this is taking it a bit far.

Jigsaw, an engineer by trade, would usually put them either in an untenable situation with a time limit, or place them in a contraption designed to kill them in a very painful way. The key usually was that people had the chance to save themselves.

The first movie had a twisted kind of appeal, but the strongest element was the audience’s confusion matched that of the first two victims who awakened chained up in a very unfamiliar environment, desperately trying to find a way to escape.

By the fourth flick, the plotting is so haphazard, the incoherence so pronounced, and the proceedings so meaningless that you start to question why you bother watching any films at all.

The writers and the terrible director feel that there’s barely any need to have anything occur that is even remotely believable anymore. They feel comfortable that since they’ve established that the Jigsaw guy gets his kicks out of creating elaborate and needlessly complicated torture/death scenarios and elaborate games for complete strangers to die within or learn the valuable lesson of, I dunno, what Christmas is all about, then all they have to do is create a situation where someone, for some reason, is going to die.

Stringing them together coherently or even in a vaguely believable way doesn’t matter, because the core audience for these flicks has been rendered retarded by watching the earlier flicks in the franchise.

The origins of Jigsaw’s obsession with motivating people is given ample backstory. Backstory. That’s what we were all craving, wasn’t it. He murders countless people because a junkie accidentally caused his wife to miscarry their baby. That’s it, that’s the big explanation of his deep-seated motivation towards killing people.

How fucking fascinating.

Check your DNA. Get some genetic screening done, because it’s possible you’ve had some chromosomes added or taken away by the evil radiation emitted by the sheer laziness and dumbness of this movie.

Rigg, the cop in case you lost track, is led by a sequence of notes in boxes and clues to travel all over this part of Canada in order to learn to see the world the way Jigsaw does. The big lesson, when it comes down to it, is that the unbelievable and tenuous sequence of events are meant to bring him to a particular place at a particular time in order to learn not to be too punctual. And not to walk through doors until he’s been told to. THAT’S the big lesson, the bitter realisation, the sting in the tail, the revelation of the divine folly of human existence?

Something like 40 people die over the course of these movies, in quite gruesome ways, and it boils down to what, exactly? That Jigsaw is some kind of fucking genius who peers into the souls of damaged people and offers them a way out? Or is it a testament to the ingenuity of the characters or the screenwriters who find macabre and interesting ways to terrify and thrill audiences?

Bullshit, absolute bullshit. The manner in which these scenarios plays out is absurd, and all the rapid editing and camera shaking in the world can’t obscure the fact that they ran out of ideas a long fucking time ago, and they’re shooting nothing but blanks.

This film is fucking terrible. Don’t watch it even if you’re the worst kind of horror-fan masochist. Not a second of it is worthwhile, and I say this knowing full well that there’s usually something at least to be amused by in any flick. There’s nothing here for you.

1 time I have stared death in the face and prefer it to ever watching these films ever again out of 10. I will discuss these films no more forever.

“I don’t want to play anymore.” – Saw IV