See-Saw (Day Four: Saw IV)

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Budget: $10million

Box Office: $139.3million

  • Fine. Let’s do this.
  • We open with an overly-long autopsy of Jigsaw. I’m going to give this film the benefit of the doubt and say this was done so we know for certain Jigsaw is dead so the audience doesn’t expect him to come back to life. No excuse for it to be quite this long though. And in quite so much detail. It’s odd, they’re playing it like it’s a scene from a horror movie. They’ve got the spooky scary music, dark lighting, and intense close-ups of body parts. But it’s not meant to be scary, it can’t be. How can it be?
  • We get the in-story reason for this now. They find a tape in his stomach. The one that he was shown to have covered in wax in the last one and eaten. They show that scene again in case you couldn’t remember it. This series has a weird approach to how it treats the audience’s memory. It replays A LOT of stuff from previous films, but also has so much where if you weren’t taking notes in previous films you wouldn’t remember who certain people were or why they matter.
  • I’m not lying about this being overly long by the way, it was five minutes long.Five minutes of someone just being cut open.
  • The tape is played, is pretty much what you expect. “my work will go on” etc.
  • Two people wake up in a room, one with his eyes gouged out, one with his mouth sewn shut. They’re chained to a machine that is gradually pulling them closer to a machine that will kill them. Who are these people? Does it even actually matter this point? Does anybody care?
  • Fight scene, and I have to say this isn’t really a fair fight, the guy with his mouth sewn shut is at zero disadvantage, you don’t need your mouth to fight really, whereas the guy with his eyes gouged out is fucked, not literally.
  • The guy with mouth sewn shut wins the fight and gets the key from the back of the other persons head. Because of course he wins. Don’t worry, you won’t see the guy from this scene again for like an hour, by that point you’d have forgotten who he was.
  • The police find Kerry from the last movie. Again, not much reason for this to be in this movie and not the last one. I actually want to see what this series would be like if it was edited into one long chronological story.
  • The police assume Jigsaw has a new accomplice.
  • There’s a book about Jigsaw, titled “John Krama aka Jigsaw. Is he the murderer the police say he his”. That’s not a typo on my end by the way, it genuinely says “he his”. Also, why would lead with his real name, then the fake? Also also, that book got published really damn quickly.
  • Daniel Rigg (who I think has been in previous Saw movies) seems to be the lead of this one. A cop who feels guilty for not being able to save people, particularly Eric Matthews (donnie whalberg from the 2nd one, who is still listed as missing). This film series has to be commended for that though; it’s done the film series equivalent of promoting from within. Most of the main characters for each film have been introduced in previous ones. It’s a great way of doing things and shows forward planning, rewards loyalty, and makes it feel less like a film and more like an actual world that exists.
  • He’s kidnapped, as a lot of people are in these films. Yeah, he’s definitely the lead. As condescending as this sounds it’s great to see a black lead in a horror movie. Especially one where his being black isn’t his main character trait. He’s not the black lead from Saw, he’s just the lead from Saw.
  • Oh, Donnie wahlberg is still alive it turns out. Barely, he’s being kept alive as the test for Daniel, who has 90 minutes to save both him and Detective Hoffman (who was in, erm, the 3rd one I think, I don’t know at this point).
  • His first test: he finds a woman in a pig mask tied to a chair, her hair tied to a machine that slowly pulls her head back. The tape tells him to let her die as it’s not his job to save her. From what I can tell her crime was being a prostitute. That does not seem worthy of death and torture. Or she might have been a pimp. Yeah that’s pretty bad.
  • He can’t find a knife to cut her hair loose so decides to deal with the problem in the most American way possible; he shoots the machine.
  • He gets the combination and saves her, but not before she gets nearly scalped and looses a lot of blood. What would have happened if her hair was fake and mainly made of extensions?
  • She grabs a knife and tries to stab him. In her defence, he was a black man with a gun, in his own house. The police have shot people for similar reason.
  • Oh that’s how she knew where to get the knife from, her tape said she had to kill him as he was going to arrest her for prostitution, so the only way for her to escape jail was to kill a cop. Obviously.
  • Wait, for him to have listened to that tape, she would have had to rewind it after listening to it?
  • Back to Donnie, who is chained to a ceiling suspended above an ice block. We flash back to the third one where he was knocked out by Amanda, because otherwise how else would we remember who he is? And we’re shown him being kept alive through tiny portions of food and an awful disgusting room. If he was on benefits the British government would describe that as “luxury”
  • Daniel goes to a disgusting motel run by an overweight guy in a white vest who owns a dog. He’s almost definitely a pervert/rapist/paedophile.
  • When he gets to the room there’s the picture of the motel owner and instructions to go to his room and do something whilst disguised with a pig mask. He’s still wearing the exact same clothes though and didn’t get the mask until he was in the motel room. So if there’s cameras all over the place as the tape said, then that would be noticed.
  • Yup he’s a rapist. We’re shown video evidence, he recorded it. I mean, I don’t care what happens to this guy, he’s a serial rapist who tried to deny it until the final moment.
  • He’s made to climb into a bed and tie himself up. Then gouge his own eyes out. He succeeds until the final part, and his limbs get torn away. Ah well.
  • Flashback to the time Daniel beat up a guy for abusing his wife and kids. Most the victims are kind of assholes so there is a cathartic quality to the deaths.
  • More flashbacks, this time to when Jigsaw was alive and his wife (oh yeah, she’s been in this movie, but her scenes have been really dull) worked at a health clinic and got robbed by a drug addict who caused her to miscarriage, causing him to become Jigsaw. Nice touch, kind of unnecessary.
  • Daniel now goes to a school where he finds the guy abused his wife and kids. They were being held together with spikes running through both them. To survive she has to pull the spikes out, she’ll live but he will die. This is weird as it’s a test for her. She seems to be being punished for being abused. We don’t need Jigsaw punishing women for being in abusive relationships, the police and courts already do this. He decides to let her save herself by giving her the key and setting off the fire alarm so that people are alerted. I don’t get what Daniel’s lesson in that was.
  • Crime scene technician there seems to be the worst ever and accidentally sets off a harpoon that kills another person at the scene. That’s not Jigsaw that did that, that’s not applying health and safety rules.
  • The cops (one of who i’ve already forgot her name) go into a room where the puppet is. They play the tape round it’s neck, obviously (seriously, why do none of the people in these movies remove the tape from the room and play it somewhere safe where more people can help solve it). The puppet explodes in her face giving her a shrapnel facial. I really wish the make-up team did a better job here, she looks fine just with stuff in her face. It’s not particularly devastating to see.
  • Just realised Donnie and Hoffman trap is being overseen by the guy who had his mouth sewn shut at the start. I haven’t mentioned that much but only because there’s not much happening there. I think Hoffman can die but not sure how. This film has WAY too much going on yet also somehow manages to have nothing happen for a lot of it.
  • Flashback to what was possibly Jigsaws first test. He kidnapped the guy who killed his unborn child and nailed him to a chair.
  • Jigsaw puts a torture device on his head, a series of knives where the drug guy has to push his head into them to unlock it. Jigsaw refers to it as a “tool”, which sounds silly, but that’s how Americans refer to guns.
  • The trap doesn’t work, mainly because the chair breaks. The guy decides that whilst he’s been heavily mutilated and lost a lot of blood, it would be a good idea to attempt to kill the guy who put him there. Jigsaw just moves out the way, causing the guy to fall into barbed wire.
  • Daniel, and another cop (Peter Strahm) end up in the same building the third one took place in. We get more flashbacks to that movie.
  • Wait, this isn’t a flashback, the entire film is. It’s taking place alongside the third one. Clever idea, but not cleverly done enough.
  • Daniel bursts through the door before he should, despite them not being any real warnings against this this is seen as a cardinal sin, it releases ice blocks which finally kill Donnie. He does this after shooting the mouth-sew guy. He shoots him again as he was reaching for his own tape recorder. Weird, a black cop shooting a white guy for reaching for something innocent. That never happens the other way around.
  • The tape tells him that “your impatience killed Donnie, if you did nothing he would have been saved. You failed”. That just seems unfair as he didn’t know what he was supposed to do. He was penalised for rules which weren’t really stated. I mean, he was told “don’t rush through a door, ever!” but that was by a cop, a long long time ago as part of a different moment.
  • And now we find that Hoffman is the real accomplice. Oh no, not Hoffman, he was so……he existed.
  • Hoffman locks Strahm in a room and I’ve gone past caring tbh. I don’t care about any of these people. There are too many twists and character turns that make zero sense and add nothing. It’s like watching late 90’s wrestling, just without the actors later killing their wife and child due to brain damage.
  • Oh, that’s the end? So to sum up the ending; one cop is locked in a room, one has been shot, one has had something blow up in their face but is still alive, one has become evil. Does that sound like the end of a movie? Or the end of a second act? NONE of these films stand on their own. I can only imagine how fucking pissed I’d have been if I saw these at cinema, having to wait a year to find out if a character died, but not really caring either way.
  • Wait, I forgot to say. Jeff died too.

Okay this film makes many many mistakes. The big one is it focuses too much on Jigsaw and his teachings. He’s an interesting character but he’s now dead and his disciples are ignoring his teachings, so as a character he is completely irrelevant to the narrative going forward. Yes, it improves the narrative of the previous movies. But Saw IV is not Saw II (despite containing a lot of the same fucking scenes), Saw IV is Saw IV, and as such it needs to focus on the characters in THIS movie instead of developing ones we know have no future development. It’s a huge logical storytelling flaw.

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