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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.21%
Worth A Look: 5.66%
Average: 9.43%
Pretty Bad37.74%
Total Crap: 33.96%

4 reviews, 29 user ratings

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Saw IV
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by brianorndorf

"Pure junk, but "Citizen Kane" compared to the others"
2 stars

When we last left the “Saw” franchise, Jigsaw was revealed to be a victim of a broken heart (awwwwww), and the producers bent over backwards to cram new, outlandish twists into this head-slappingly dreadful franchise, hopeful to extend the profit trail long enough before horror fans start to realize they’re being taken advantage of. After four of these harebrained features, I’m starting to think the audience enjoys the violation.

With Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and Amanda (Shawnee Smith) dead, two FBI profilers (Scott Patterson and Athena Karkanis) are called in to assist Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) with his investigation of the homicides and elaborate torture devices Jigsaw left behind. When SWAT Commander Rigg (Lyriq Bent) is kidnapped and set off on game giving him 90 minutes to survive a series of traps, the cops are in close pursuit, leading them to the doorstep of Jigsaw’s former ladylove Jill (Betsy Russell), where a few answers about Jigsaw’s macabre modus operandi are provided, along with chilling plans for the future.

There’s a built-in audience for the “Saw” films at this point in the game. I get that. What I find more confusing about this phenomenon is the adoration of such amateurish filmmaking and feverishly corner-cutting, logic-be-damned screenwriting. “Saw” has become a Halloween staple, now in its fourth year of bloodshed production. The previous entries in the franchise have been laughably acted, frightfully directed exercises in voyeurism, somehow equating the salivating display of blunt ultraviolence and fountains of gore with a social message on appreciating the brevity of life. Would it be shocking if I wrote that “Saw IV” is simply another serving of the same stale soup?

There’s really no reason to shake up the series at this point, since prior “Saw” sequels have been rewarded with bewilderingly ardent fans and impressive (if not blockbuster) box office returns. “Saw IV” is only trying to reheat the Jigsaw myth into pliable form to stretch the material for two more planned sequels after this, and for that goal alone, the latest round of sadistic traps and melodramatic tribulations is a great success. As for elements like “acting” and “suspense,” the latest “Saw” feature still leaves a lot to be desired.

If “Saw III” struck you as particularly punch-drunk with plot twists and character connections, bring some shoulder pads to “Saw IV.” Picking up right where we left off (kinda), director Darren Lynn Bousman is faced with the impossible task of sorting out the mess left behind in the previous sequel. But here’s the twist: he just adds more mess! The storyline for “IV” is a madcap construct that feels like watching “Back to the Future: Part II” in reverse; a time-hurdling package where the screenwriters are flying blind trying to dazzle the audience with shameful manipulations that have long lost their novelty. Perhaps there really is some enormous arc to all of these movies, but the way “IV” ends, with yet another dramatic rehash of deaths and reveals of allegiances, I’m willing to bet the screenwriters don’t have a clue what’s actually going on during any single point of this movie.

As for the blood-soaked trap sequences, fans should be pleased with the buffet of hurt in “IV.” There’s plenty of gross-out moments and squeeze-your-boyfriend’s-arm portraits of agony, yet the new film is more concerned with spinning yarn than squeezing heads. It leaves the picture with a Jigsaw-lite choice: either face the obnoxious, over-edited blur of the trap sequences or watch the story, which attempts to rationalize Jigsaw’s ludicrous plan for humanity. In the long run, both speeds of feature are a complete waste of time. However, the latter provides some giggles, and that’s a commodity these “Saw” pictures could use more of.

I suppose the biggest shock of the film is the confident performance from Scott Patterson (better known as Luke from “Gilmore Girls”), who is the first “actor” of the series to not completely drown in embarrassing acting-class hysteria. More curiosity is provided by Betsy Russell, a former nudie queen of 80’s teen flicks making a triumphant return to acting. Well, maybe not triumphant, but welcome.

“Saw IV” is by far the best installment of this cringingly moronic odyssey of pain. Granted, that’s faint praise, but there’s something to be said about leaving a theater with only a mild cultural headache instead of a knee-buckling case of cinematic depression.

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originally posted: 10/26/07 20:27:33
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User Comments

9/25/17 morris campbell not bad better than 3 3 stars
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
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
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  26-Oct-2007 (R)
  DVD: 22-Jan-2008



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