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Overall Rating
2.25

Awesome: 13.46%
Worth A Look: 5.77%
Average: 7.69%
Pretty Bad38.46%
Total Crap: 34.62%

4 reviews, 28 user ratings


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Saw IV
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by Peter Sobczynski

"This Is What Brings Betsy Russell Out Of Semi-Retirement?"
1 stars

Like most people going to see “Saw IV” this weekend, I walked into the theater with one overriding question regarding the film. That question, of course, was “What the hell is Betsy Russell doing in it, let alone getting fourth billing?” For those of you unfamiliar with her, Ms Russell was a familiar face (among other body parts) on the teen exploitation movie scene of the 1980's. who never quite made it to bigger and better things. Her first big role was in 1983's “Private School,” where she played the bad girl who battled the sweet-natured Phoebe Cates for the love of Matthew Modine. Cates, of course, went from that film to such illustrious career highlights as “Lace,” the “Gremlins” films and marrying Kevin Kline while all Russell, who clearly had the more difficult role of the two (hey, you try going horseback riding naked sometime and then tell me how easy it is), got for her efforts was parts in such classics as “Avenging Angel” (“When you get to hell, tell them an angel sent you!”), “Tomboy” and “Cheerleader Camp” (a.k.a. “Bloody Pom-Poms”) before more or less disappearing from the business. Now here she is in a major role what will presumably be the biggest film of the Halloween season and while it is nice to see her again, I am just curious as to how she wound up getting cast in this particular film.

At this point, many of you reading this may have an even more overriding question–“Why the hell is this doofus going on and on about the babe from “Tomboy” instead of the movie he’s supposed to be writing about?” I guess I am just trying to postpone the unpleasantness for as long as I can because “Saw IV” is the kind of movie that willfully defies any attempt to analyze it using intelligence or logic. Instead, it is a generally repellent and always inexplicable mess that consists of 108 minutes of grisly torture and bloodshed barely linked together by a screenplay that doesn’t even try to make sense even within the confines of its own internal logic. This may sound like fun to some people–mostly those who have yet to enter their senior year in high school–but for the rest of us, it will come across as two of the more degrading and debasing hours of big-screen “entertainment” that you are likely to endure in this lifetime.

For those who have somehow managed to avoid the three previous “Saw” films (which begs the question of why you have read up to this point, unless it is to simply savor my delicious prose), they concern a man known as Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), a nutjob who combines the most terrifying characteristics of a self-help guru and your junior-high-school shop teacher in order to teach his victims lessons on the value of appreciating life by imprisoning them in fiendish traps that are so elaborately constructed that, as I think I have said in the past, Rube Goldberg himself would look over them and say “Dude, simplify!” When we last saw Jigsaw at the end of “Saw III,” he had just gotten his throat slashed from ear to ear by a student who perhaps didn’t quite get the message. Because this character was offed so decisively in the previous film and since “Saw IV” opens with the character’s corpse going through a long and detailed autopsy, some have wondered how Jigsaw might somehow cheat death in order to pop up this time around. Without giving too much away, I will simply note that Tobin Bell is one of the featured actors this time around and that while the film doesn’t quite cheat in the way that it brings him back into the fold, the machinations involved do pretty much stretch the boundaries of plausibility to the breaking point.

I will not attempt to recount the plot except to note that there appears to be a new string of Jigsaw-related killings going on, despite his apparent demise, and that a couple of cops (Costas Mandaylor and Lyriq Bent) and a couple of FBI agents (Scott Patterson and Athena Karkanis) spend much of the running time either following clues to some of the traps, stumbling upon the grisly aftermath of those traps or winding up in further traps themselves. Of course, those of you who are fans of the series no doubt have little use for a plot recap anyway–all you are presumably concerned with just how grotesque and ugly the kill scenes are this time around. This time around, besides the aforementioned autopsy, we are treated to such charming sights as a man whose eyeballs are sewn up fighting to the death with a man whose mouth has also been sewn closed, a woman getting partially scalped, an obese rapist being torn limb from limb, a man willingly plunging his face into a series of butcher’s knives and even a violent miscarriage as a change-of-pace. Once again, it is amusing to note that the kind of imagery that used to only be seen within the confines of low-grade exploitation filmmaking (in fact, one torture involving a victim, a noose and a slowly melting block of ice”, is a direct steal from “Ilsa–She-Wolf of the SS,” lacking only the quiet dignity) is now being mass-distributed in thousands of theaters while being backed by a multi-million dollar ad campaign

Beyond the gory details of the killings, “Saw IV” is nothing more than a brainless geek show that offers up a storyline so convoluted and self-referential (flashbacks from the last two films seem to invade it at will) that you not only have to see the three previous films if you are to have any hope of figuring things out, you need to have seen all three of them maybe six seconds before watching this one. Perhaps to aid potential viewers in this regard, Lionsgate helpfully held screenings of all four of the “Saw” films in a row the night before the new installment opened in theaters. Because life is too short and because I was too busy watching “American Gangster,” I did not sit through this particular marathon. However, I will admit that the idea of spending eight hours in the same room as people who actually wanted to the first four “Saw” films in a row is such a terrifying and potentially torturous notion that it could serve as a possible premise for “Saw V.”

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=16773&reviewer=389
originally posted: 10/26/07 18:21:56
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User Comments

3/25/13 E.C.D. Series should've stopped at 3. From here on, they're the same thing over & over again. D 2 stars
9/02/12 roscoe jigsaw died in the last one, so there was no reason to make anymore 2 stars
3/03/10 Stanley Thai Easily the best sequel in the franchise. 4 stars
3/23/09 mr.mike It should please hard-core Sawheads - but only them. 3 stars
10/28/08 Sugarfoot Completely routine, boring and pointless. The blade has gone dull. 2 stars
10/17/08 tiffany pettey these are horrible. they should have stopped at 2 2 stars
7/23/08 David V At this rate we'll see "Jigsaw Goes to Hell" within the next 5 years. 1 stars
6/03/08 PAUL SHORTT THE WORST AND MOST POINTLESS EPISODE OF THE GORE-SATURATED QUADROLOGY 1 stars
3/27/08 Jack Sommersby Grotesque simply for grotesque's sake. Creatively bankrupt and just flat-out boring. 1 stars
2/16/08 Mike Regurgitated movie from the other "SAW" movies. 2 stars
11/18/07 marina Amazing! like the others 5 stars
11/12/07 beau i didnt understand, it was confusing, just filled with anonymous torture scenes 2 stars
11/12/07 TS I didn't get it - please explain - point to a website which explans it please 2 stars
11/05/07 JohnKramer Obviously this guy didn't understand absolutely nothing, 3&4 are parallels, simply perfect! 5 stars
11/01/07 Rich hard to keep up with the characters. Wish they hadn't killed off Jigsaw 4 stars
10/31/07 Reign This entire review boils down to "I didn't get it, so it sucks" 5 stars
10/30/07 Kathie I thought it was brilliant. I would definitely pay to see it again. 5 stars
10/30/07 Ole Man Bourbon Convoluted crap. 2 stars
10/29/07 mike tried to be too clever and made it a mess. traps not as cool saw saw 3. better than saw 1&2 3 stars
10/29/07 Mike R. huge fan, love the saw thrillogy, hope the turn out to be a series like jason and freddy 5 stars
10/28/07 Brian Mckay didn't see 2 or 3 and had no clue WTF was happening - but it was better than the original 3 stars
10/28/07 Ozboy Film critics show time & again that they let their feelings rule their reviews.Clever movie 3 stars
10/28/07 Naurto Eli Roth licks hairy, sweaty, feces-encrusted monkey balls. 5 stars
10/28/07 Brock If you truly understand the storyline of the series, you'll like Saw IV. 4 stars
10/27/07 JT You all obviously dont understand the parallel of 3 & 4. This movie was great 5 stars
10/27/07 Shawn Eli Roth did not direct this. 1 stars
10/26/07 MickT The 1st,2nd,3rd number 4 is the worst of the worst!! 1 stars
10/26/07 Josh Russell got cast b/c Eli Roth = horror dork who casts washed up actors as "homage". Sucks! 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  26-Oct-2007 (R)
  DVD: 22-Jan-2008

UK
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