Entering Saw IV, I was wondering how they were going to get past the ending of Saw III. I mean, you can’t really do another movie without at least acknowledging what came before and, in this case, you sort of have to. Why? Well, Jigsaw, our enigmatic killer, is dead. No questions about it. And here we are, coming into another installment of the movie franchise that has made the Jigsaw killer a household name. But he appears to be dead now, so how do we get by it? Well, thankfully, Saw IV sort of made that the main focus of the movie, and the results are pretty satisfying, albeit slightly confusing.
With Amanda and Jigsaw dead, two seasoned FBI profilers, Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) and Agent Perez, arrive at the depleted police precinct and help veteran Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) sift through the latest grisly game of victims and piece together the puzzle. When SWAT Commander Rigg (Lyriq Bent), the only local officer who has yet to experience Jigsaw’s (Tobin Bell) handiwork, is suddenly abducted, he has just 90 minutes to overcome a diabolical series of interconnected traps…or face the deadly consequences. The genesis of Jigsaw’s evil is revealed, exposing the puppet master’s true intentions and the sinister plan for his past, present and future victims.
So, the above synopsis sort of gives it away. This isn’t going to be an easy movie to digest. Not only do we have all the usual traps and puzzles that Jigsaw’s victims have to solve, but this movie is just steeped in the past. Not only does it flash back to previous movies, but also way before that, before Jigsaw was actually “Jigsaw.” At one point, like most serial killers apparently, he was a kind man with a beautiful wife. Sadly, all that goes wrong after they lose their unborn child in a tragic accident. From there, Jigsaw is a changed man. The purpose of this movie is to basically close the doors on one story, by giving us the final pieces to the puzzle, and move ahead with the new one. It’s an incredibly hard task, but Saw IV is able to pull it off.
I’ve noticed this with Saw III and this installment that the franchise is now filling in the blanks, so to speak, with Jigsaw. In Saw and Saw II, we saw (Ha!) victims struggle against this mysterious and devilish killer. And now, with this movie and the last, we have basically humanized the character. And, does it work? Well, to an extent, yes. His background isn’t the most original, but it does provide a compelling launch pad into his very successful serial killer career. Plus, I like to think that, since we’re closing the doors on the Jigsaw killer, or this version of him, we’re finally granted all the information that many Saw fans have been eager to know. They wanted to know his background, and we get it. And the results are quite satisfying.
As for what this movie proposes, a new Jigsaw killer, well, it seems like we’ll have to wait until Saw V to see if he’s actually a worthy successor. It seems like there is definitely potential here for the second Saw Trilogy, the seeds of which are planted here. While this movie did confuse the hell out of me, I did eventually get it cleared up, I think, and I sort of like the idea of what Saw IV gives us, and what we could be seeing in future installments. I like that Jigsaw is directly responsible for manipulating the person who will possibly take up the Jigsaw mantle for the next series of films. Plus, given the excessive flashbacks these movies seem to use, I am sure this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw. Now, when you watch this movie, it’s probably best that you watch Saw III beforehand. I don’t want to spoil everything, but having the events of that movie fresh in your memory will really help when trying to figure out the ending to this movie.
I’m amazed at how meticulous and detailed this film series is. There’s so much continuity and complicated twists and turns, it’s really commendable. However, it can also be a bit of a headache. This film, especially, suffers a bit from the abundance of plot continuity and confusion. While there are neat callbacks and moments that tie all the films together, there’s also a lot of just bewildering moments, especially in the finale. It took more than a few tries before the ending made sense. It’s not a movie that’s complicated, it’s just that it requires a minute to put everything together while absorbing new information at the same time. But still, aside from the ending, fans and horror fans should just gobble this movie up. It’s a top-notch horror film that offers plenty of blood and gore, something that should keep fans happy. And while Jigsaw doesn’t have the most original origin, it is one that’s serviceable to the franchise.
Saw IV firmly closes the door on the first part of the Jigsaw story and opens another in a clever way. Now, whether this series can sustain itself for Saw V and Saw VI remains to be seen, but Saw IV is another solid installment in the acclaimed horror series.
But is the DVD solid? Well, not quite. As Saw fans have come to expect, first there’s a quickie one-disc release roughly three months after the movie is released, and then a souped-up two-disc release a couple weeks before the next franchise installment hits the big screen. Here, we get the quickie one-disc release. It’s still a fine release, but it is disappointing knowing that a two-disc set is already on the way in a few months time. Still, for those aching to add the newest Saw film to their collection immediately, there’s no shame in having this on the shelves. In the Unrated Standard DVD release, we get two commentaries, one with director Darren Lynn Bousman and actor Lyriq Bent and another with producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg and executive producers Jason Constantine and Peter Block. After that we get a few minor extras, nothing special or all that interesting. There’s the single deleted scene, the pointless music video, and couple of featurettes. The “Darren’s Video Diary” is the best of the bunch, offering us a more detailed look at the movie. Given that, outside of the commentaries, the rest of the extras are EPK-type material, this is a welcome and informative extra.
The DVD comes housed in a clear Amaray case with a see through plastic slipcase. On the slipcase we see Jigsaw’s severed head and, under it, in the clear Amaray case, we see the DVD disc art with a saw blade printed on it. A clever touch. The Saw films have always had inventive and eye-catching packaging and this is no different. The audio and video for this DVD release is excellent. It looks and sounds stunning, showing that standard DVD releases can still deliver a magnificent transfer.
Overall, for fans of the franchise, picking up Saw IV is a no-brainer and comes Recommended. However, for fresh fans to the franchise, you will want to check out the first three movies in order to get up to speed. This is a movie dripping in continuity, and it shows, and you will definitely need to be up to speed if you hope to make sense of this movie. But, for the franchise, it’s a good installment that firmly closes the door on the old Saw mythology and opens the door to the next installment. For such a difficult task, it’s handled really well. The DVD itself is a bit lackluster, but for those aiming to pick up this release just for the movie, go for it. For those waiting on a more elaborate release, hold on just a few more months. However you slice it, Saw IV is solid horror entertainment and should make for a great night in.
Saw IV is now available in rated and unrated DVD and unrated Blu-Ray editions. Saw IV is released through Maple Pictures in Canada and Lionsgate Pictures in the U.S..