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The Independent Critic

Tobin Bell, Betsy Russell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Lyriq Bent
Darren Lynn Bousman
Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan
Rated R
95 Mins.
 "Saw IV" Review 
There's something to be admired when a horror film series manages to knock off its killer and, yet, somehow the series continues on without the killer.

When James Wan directed the first "Saw," a new terrifying persona was created in the annals of horror named Jigsaw (Tobin Bell). At the end of "Saw III," however, Jigsaw died and, had Hollywood greed not prevailed, so too would have ended the Halloween tradition of a "Saw" opening.

Yet, here we are again approaching Halloween 2007 and "Saw IV," minus both James Wan and original screenplay writer Leigh Wannell, and a relatively Jigsaw-free "Saw IV" sees us reliving the same horror games all over again.

"Saw IV" begins with Jigsaw's autopsy and, avoiding the lunacy of madmen coming back to life (ala "Halloween" or "Friday the 13th"), we nonetheless experience Jigsaw's presence throughout the film via a series of pre-recorded videos in which we finally learn much of what created Jigsaw.

Two "Saw" veterans are back in the persons of Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) and Rigg (Lyriq Bent). The two are joined by a couple of federal agents (Scott Patterson and Athena Karkanis) and, of course, even with Jigsaw dead the games continue. We are also introduced, through retrospection, to Dr. Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell) and her role in the development of Jigsaw.

Despite my overall resistance to horror films, I was actually a fan of the original "Saw," an inventive and intelligent film despite the over-the-top graphic violence. Since the original, however, the series has become nothing more than an excuse to invent newer, sicker, more graphic and more cruel means to torture, humiliate and kill the victims.

If I were to rate "Saw IV" solely on the basis of my personal enjoyment, it would undoubtedly be a massive failure. By this, the fourth installment, the series has lost its uniqueness, intelligence, twisted morals and, well, even its ability to be horrifying. "Saw IV" isn't particularly scary, suspenseful or's simply graphic to the point of nonsensical violence. Fans of horror-porn, "Hostel" and hardcore violence will be practically orgasmic...everyone else will simply shrug their shoulders and go "So what?"

To comment on the performances or virtually any aspect of "Saw IV" is pointless..."Saw IV" isn't about the performances, there are only so many ways you can act terrified or dying, but the "Saw" series has become almost solely about the "game" itself. Having directed the last two "Saw" films, director Darren Lynn Bousman offers nothing new in the way of action, pacing or photography and new screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan basically do a more convoluted version of the previous two films.

While the door is left open for a "Saw V," it is unclear if there exists plans for a fifth film. It is fairly certain, however, that 2008 will bring a break in what has been a Halloween tradition the past four years.

After three years of tricks, Halloween 2008's treat may very well be an end to this once promising series that should have died along with Jigsaw.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic