Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Saw IV

Saw IV (2007)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Scott Patterson, Lyriq Bent, Athena Karkanis, and Betsy Russell

Written by: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, and Thomas H. Fenton

Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman

Produced by: Lionsgate Films and Twisted Pictures

The Saw series has been a nice surprise. The original was an amazing creation of psychological terror. The second was not as good taking one victim in an elaborate test to several people in an elaborate test. The larger group provided about as many interesting moments as annoying ones, but the traps were interesting and the twist was welcome and overall, the second installment was good. Saw III was decent, but quality was continuing to slide as they were trying to come up with something different.

Which gets us to Saw IV. Jigsaw, despite being dead, continues to play his games and teach his lessons with a tape and the revelation that, while Jigsaw and accomplice Amanda are dead, there has to be another accomplice.

Officer Rigg finds himself the focus of Jigsaw's last test having 90 minutes to decipher clues and help people caught in their own traps. The final goal, rescue police officer Hoffman.

Meanwhile, FBI agents Perez and Strahm are following behind trying to catch up to Rigg and stop the carnage. This involves speaking with Jigsaw's ex-wife Jill where we learn more about how John Kramer became Jigsaw.

Rigg's story doesn't hold up too well. Running to the next scene, even a hotheaded cop who tends to run through unsecure doors would call in and get back-up. The traps/tests that the victims were in that Rigg was supposed to rescue them from were too dependent upon "cooperation" for Jigsaw to be certain everything would play out the way he intended. The woman in the hair trap could easily have decided not to try and kill Rigg. But then, I'm not sure what she was guilty of doing. We weren't given a good enough look at the photos.

And Rigg doesn't make much sense. He wants to save the hair trap girl, he forces the next guy into his trap to make him decide his own fate, and then tries to save one of the next victims. This ocillation is hard to reconcile. I'll admit that the idea of forcing Rigg to see what Jigsaw sees, feel what he feels, judge how he judges is an interesting goal, but too contrived here.

The interview with Jill, Jigsaw's ex-wife, doesn't add anything to the plot. Yes, it is interesting see specifically what happened that led John Kramer to become Jigsaw and seeing his first trap/test fall apart was intriguing, but it didn't provide any revelations pertinent to the Rigg story, which means it was just filler.

The end, with the twist revelation about who the third member of the Jigsaw trinity is, doesn't hold water. We are given no reason for this third person to work with Jigsaw.

The traps seemed less about teaching the victims to value their lives and more about forcing Rigg to make decisions which led to their murder. In fact, if Rigg was supposed to learn the lesson to not going running through doors half-cocked, then Jigsaw should have been warning him to take his time, not chastising him for wasting time. And a couple of victims are completely random with boobytraps designs to take out whoever happened to be in the right place at the wrong time.

Poorly pieced together plot. Unclear motivations. Overall, a blunted entry into the Saw saga.

Tobin Bell, Jigsaw, has two horror related movies due out in 2008. One is called Highway 61, a horror comedy about the manager of a struggling rock group arranging a meeting with the Devil at the fabled Crossroads intersection in Mississippi. Look for Bell as Jigsaw again in Saw V due out on October 24, 2008.

Also look for Scott Patterson, Agent Strahm, to appear in Saw V.

Lyriq Bent, Rigg, seems to be working in television mostly and does not have any films in the works.

Athena Karkanis's next film will be an action thriller with Wesley Snipes. The Art of War: The Betrayal is the sequel to the 2000 The Art of War and deals with Agent Neil Shaw being called out of retirement and finding himself in the midst of a plot to assassinate several leading Senators with himself set-up to take the rap for a recent killing.

Betsy Russell, Jill, will also appear in Saw V. She also appears in Chain Letter, a horror movie set to come out at an unspecified date in 2008 where a maniac murders teens when they refuse to forward chain mail. Chain Letter also stars Brad Ourif from Rob Zombie's Halloween and the voice of Chucky from the Child's Play series, and Michael Bailey Smith from The Hills Have Eyes and The Hills Have Eyes II (2006-2007).

Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan continue writing horror with The Midnight Man, currently filming and scheduled for release in 2008. In The Midnight Man, an ex-con, desperate to repay his debt to his ex-wife, plots a heist at his new employer's country home, unaware that a second criminal has also targeted the property, and rigged it with a series of deadly traps. Dunstan is set to make his directorial debute with The Midnight Man. Dunstan and Melton also are writers on the 2009 remake of Hellraiser.

Darren Lynn Bousman returns to the director's chain with Repo! The Genetic Opera, a horror musical in which a worldwide epidemic encourages a biotech company to launch an organ-financing program similar in nature to a standard car loan. The repossession clause is a killer, however. Repo! The Genetic Opera stars Paul Sorvino, Paris Hilton, Bill Moseley from Rob Zombie's Halloween, and Anthony Head who appeared briefly in Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Repo! is going to be shown in Canada at the Fantasia Film Festival on July 18 and will have a US theater release date of November 2008.

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