'Saw IV - Unrated'
(Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, et al / DVD / R / (2007) 2008 / LGF)
Overview: Jigsaw and his apprentice Amanda are dead. Upon the news of Detective Kerry's murder, two seasoned FBI profilers, Agent Strahm and Agent Perez, arrive at the depleted police precinct and help veteran Detective Hoffman sift through Jigsaw's latest grizzly game of victims and piece together the puzzle. However, when SWAT Commander Rigg, the last officer untouched by Jigsaw, is suddenly abducted and thrust into the madman's harrowing game, the officer has but ninety minutes to overcome a series of interconnected traps...or face the deadly consequences.
DVD Verdict: After Jigsaw died, I had a feeling the franchise would be over. Then I heard studios green-lighted Saw IV BEFORE Saw III was even made, and I thought oh god, not another one. I had my doubts, but listening to the commentary on Saw III assured me they had a plan. And what a plan it was!
So far, it seems all the Saw movies have had one prevailing theme to them. Saw II: Patience. Saw III: Forgiveness. Saw IV: Self Preservation. The most vital theme involves people in traps saving them self. Thus is where Lieutenant Rigg is tested, the black cop who has been in all the Saw movies, and seen all his partners die. The film makes it clear right away that Rigg's problem is he cares too much---he wants to save everyone, and everyone (from Jigsaw to his wife) is telling him he can't save everyone.
Alongside this, two other story lines go on, including a Lawyer who survived Jigsaw's first test, being put in a second, and flashbacks showing John Kramer's (Jigsaw) life before the events of the series, with his wife Jill, and his job as an engineer. We see what causes him to change, and leave his wife, and eventually (as well as getting cancer) sets about his games, where he personally witnesses his first victim succeed, only to blow it and try to attack Jigaw---to then get himself killed by his own stupid actions.
Despite all that's happened, Saw IV has plenty of twists and surprises, including the ultimate shocking turn involving Rigg's game, which I won't reveal here even though I checked the spoiler alert. It's simply too juicy. The events of the film (sans flashbacks) happen simultaneously to the events in Saw III, with the final autopsy shown in the beginning of the movie to set the tone, and to assure people Jigsaw truly IS dead.
The gore? Plentiful. It manages to improve upon its predecessors (as the movies always have) without getting overly excessive. The gore isn't there just to gross out or entertain the audience, and is rather tastefully handled, giving it an edge for realism as well as art. The traps are nothing garishly out there, but definitely some of the most creative in the entire franchise.
As with Saw III, potentially the goriest, most shock-inducing scene involves Jigsaw himself. Where in Saw III, it was the live, amateur brain surgery, Saw IV steps it up with a live autopsy complete with the nauseating buzz of saws, cracks of bone, and squishing of still-wet flesh and organs, which resemble a true autopsy. For the sake of quashing dreams of fan service, I will safely spoil by saying Dr Gordon is NOT tied to Jigsaw in any further way (though that would remain to be seen for the next two Saws) and both Jigsaw and Amanda are dead.
With the series running the risk of being milked by greedy executives into oblivion, the writers/director of the series show that they are masters of the craft of not only modern shock horror but noirish storytelling as well. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Audio Commentary with Director Darren Lynn Bousman and Actor Lyriq Bent
Audio Commmentary with Producers Dren Koules and Mark Burg and Executive Producers Peter Block and Jason Constantine
Darren's Video Diary
The Traps of 'Saw IV' Featurette
The Props of 'Saw IV' Featurette
'Saw IV' Music Video by "X Japan"
Bonus Deleted Scene