Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Tobin Bell, Scott Patterson, Lyriq Bent, Angus Macfadyen, Betsy Russell, Athena Karkanis
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
It’s become a tradition. Every Halloween there’s a new Saw film in theatres for blood-hungry fans to eat up. For some horror aficionados Jigsaw’s yearly arrival is akin to that of Santa Claus. The most surprising thing about this now annual event is the quality of each film in the franchise. Dare I say it, the Darren Lynn Bousman helmed sequels in my opinion were all even better than the original film that started everything. With Saw IV Bousman rolls the dice one final time before turning the directorial reins over to long-time Saw collaborator David Hackl, and the results, while not perfect, are still pretty damned good.
Let’s start with the story. Please try and follow along. It can get a little confusing.
Officer Rigg (Bent), a cop scarcely seen in Saw II and III, is now the main focus of Jigsaw’s game. After his best friend, detective Eric Matthews (Wahlberg), went missing at the end of Saw II, Rigg has taken it upon himself to finally uncover the mystery surrounding his buddy’s disappearance no matter what the sacrifice. Wow, is there sacrifice. The whole film revolves around this search, and by the time we get to the movie’s finale, we’re left with some long needed answers and a whole new set of questions that I’m sure will be tackled by the next couple of flicks in the series.
It’s quite the experience, but the problem lies in the fact that on its own it’s not exactly a fulfilling one. Trying to watch Saw IV without the events of Saw III extremely fresh in your mind will leave you completely confused. Why? Because the events in this latest film are taking place at the exact same time as those in the third entry. As a result Saw IV at times feels more like Saw III and 1/2 instead of its own movie. Still, if storyline doesn’t matter to you and all you want is more insight into Jigsaw’s past and some extremely gory trap sequences, Saw IV will more then satisfy your lust for the macabre.
Now let’s address the eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the room — the words “Unrated Director’s Cut”. Is there more gore? More torture? Yes, and it mostly comes in the form of some extra long looks at the film’s violence. The rest of it is mainly just some re-added transitional sequences. For a detailed account of what’s new and also some much needed insight on the events you’re watching, you may just want to watch Saw IV with the commentary on. Believe me; it helps.
Speaking of commentaries, the supplemental material kicks off with two of them — the first with Bousman and actor Lyriq Bent and the second with producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg and executive producers Peter Block and Jason Constantine. Of the two, Bousman’s is the best as he points out cameos by just about every single character in the franchise while supplying the aforementioned story-based insight. Even more fun, this is the first time Bent has seen the film complete, and his reactions to some of the mayhem are pretty damned classic. From there we get a thirty-two-minute featurette entitled Darren’s Video Diary, which delivers all the behind-the-scenes stuff you would expect by now. While this is pretty much cookie-cutter fodder, the standout bits come during the next two featurettes, The Traps of Saw IV and The Props of Saw IV.
Traps is comprised of seven featurettes that clock in at a few minutes each, and in it we’re given some really close looks at the true stars of the movie, Jigsaw’s toys. Finding out how these things were built and whose sick fucking mind came up with them always makes for a good time. Props is a nine-minute look at some of the movie’s amazing set pieces from the Billy puppets to my absolute favorite — Jigsaw’s corpse. You know, unfortunately I’ve seen a lot of dead bodies in my lifetime. If I didn’t know Tobin Bell was alive and breathing, I’d swear this was him. Never before in a film have I ever seen a corpse look so authentically dead. It just blows my mind. You can almost smell it. Rounding things out we have a forty-second deleted scene that adds nothing to the overall experience and a music video from a band called Japan X that somewhat resembles a horror version of U2‘s “Where the Streets Have No Name”. As always this is a pretty good haul.
So there you have it, kids. Another Saw DVD comes home. Yet, we still have one last thing to cover before closing the door on this fourth chapter — the inevitable double dip coming once Saw V hits theatres. Sigh. Even Bousman pokes fun at the yearly different versions during his commentary. There’s no doubt that come next October we’ll be seeing Saw IV hit DVD again in what will be yet another extended edition with some new extras. This really needs to stop as it’s becoming tiresome. Can’t we just get everything we’re going to get the first time around? How stuff like this doesn’t hurt initial DVD sales is beyond me. In any event, see you Saw fans in a few months when we’ll be discussing the extra three scenes added or whatever.
3 1/2 out of 5
4 out of 5
Discuss Saw IV: The Unrated Director’s Cut in our Dread Central forums!