‘Saw IV’ Pumps up the Gore
The ‘Saw’ franchise, for reasons indecipherable to most mainstream film critics, has, in only three years, become one of the most anticipated and highest-grossing horror franchises in history, not to mention one of the most-often-cited proofs of the moral decline of American youth.
The latest installment in the grisly film series, ‘Saw IV,’ arrived in theaters last weekend amid endless fan speculation and immense pressure on the filmmakers to top their previous three films while the film is unlikely to win any converts who have dismissed the series as unredeemable ‘torture porn’ (as the sub-genre is sometimes called), it does manage the seemingly impossible feat of satisfying what the fans of the series flock to the theaters to see, as well as offering enough surprises and new twists to make the film more than a rehash of the previous installments.
No one would have been faulted for thinking that ‘Saw III’ marked the end of a trilogy, given how Jigsaw, the titular character responsible for devising the tricks and traps for which the series has become so infamous, was pretty decisively killed by a power saw to the jugular in the final moments of it. But as always in horror films, the killer always comes back for one more. Even though Jigsaw is shown to be very much dead in ‘IV,’ the devious games he creates are very much at work, leading to yet another series of life lessons disguised as devious mechanical traps.
The player this time is Sergeant Rigg (Lyriq Bent), who’s deeply obsessed with finding his missing partners Detectives Eric Matthews and Allison Kerry, who found themselves at Jigsaw’s mercy in the previous film. After Kerry’s mutilated body is found by the police, Rigg finds himself distraught and wondering whether he can truly be effective at his job if he can’t even save his friends.
The question is answered for him when he’s attacked in his own home, knocked unconscious and wakes up to a TV screen of the chilling ‘Billie’ doll who describes, in Jigsaw’s trademark gravelly voice, the game he will now be forced to play. Two of his partners, Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg)