Pure torture

Saw IV
Starring Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor and Lyriq Bent. Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman. Rated R.
Rated 1.0

A year ago, I reviewed Saw III. It received two stars—rather, a slumpy little popcorn box. I wrote: “Where the first two films were shocking and gory and, actually, quite clever, this one is missing a few pieces ….” Sorry to say it, but things have only gotten worse.

Saw IV has the gore, and even a few jump-worthy shocks, but it’s severely lacking in humanity. When you don’t care about the victims, how do you care about them being tortured?

The fourth installment of what started out as a promising horror franchise does what many other horror franchises do: it revives the dead. In this case, however, while Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), the evil mastermind testing people’s will to live, remains dead and gone, it’s his work that lives on.

During Jigsaw’s autopsy, which opens the film quite graphically, a message is found for the homicide detectives. It appears he’s also left behind a slew of intricate death machines, complete with tape or video messages.

The rest of the film concerns itself with tracking down Jigsaw’s accomplice. Meanwhile, one of the detectives from the earlier films, Rigg (Lyriq Bent) is faced with a laundry list of Jigsaw’s tests that he must pass in order to save a colleague who has been missing six months.

It’s all quite silly, really. Sure, there’s blood—but nothing compared with the original. In addition, Darren Lynn Bousman, who also directed Saw II and III, throws in a lot of disorienting camerawork, as if to make things seem scarier than they really are. True to the franchise’s M.O., there’s a shocking twist of an ending, but by the time you get that far, you’ve likely stopped caring.