Despite being very thoroughly dead, Jigsaw is up to his old games again. This time, SWAT commander Rigg must race against time to rescue to kidnapped fellow officers. Jigsaw’s messages send him all over town, to one gruesome event after another. Meanwhile, the FBI is also on the case, interrogating the killer’s ex-wife, which means the audience finds out quite a bit more about Jigsaw’s backstory.
The film gets right down to work with an extremely detailed autopsy of Jigsaw, so the target audience should feel well-served. The torture devices are as baroque as ever, and the deaths are elaborately gruesome. “Elaborate” and “baroque” are pretty good terms to describe the plot as well, only not necessarily in a good way. The main problem here is excessive flashbacking (rarely a good tactic in cinematic narrative) and equally excessive reliance on the audience remembering every detail of the previous entry. On the other hand, there are some very nifty transitions between scenes, and I confess to being rather more caught up in the story than I was expecting, this many episodes in. For the most part, this is actually an improvement over the third entry. Then there’s the difficulty of the ending. The need to have each film end in a twist here results in a conclusion that’s borderline incomprehensible rather than shocking.
Impressively ominous audio here, with even the studio logos roaring out of all speakers like the track means serious business. Turns out it does, as every slice of skin and crack of bone is gorgeously rendered, and not one of these moments will permit itself to be ignored. Got your Surround EX torture right here, all right. If you’re up for it, then, the experience is utterly immersive. Dialogue us crisp and distortion-free.
Grain is apparent but minimal, and adds to the slightly misty atmosphere of the cinematography. The palette is an interesting one, with first one colour dominating, then another (green, brown, grey, etc.) and said colorus come through wonderfully in the transfer, with excellent contrasts and blacks, and zero murk despite the darkness. The image is sharp, and, needless to say, the red is as wetly lush as one could possibly hope.
There are two commentary tracks, one by director Darren Lynn Bousman and actor Lyriq Bent (who plays Rigg), and the other by producers Oren Koules, Mark Burg, Peter Block and Jason Constantine. The two tracks together are very informative, both for pointing out such things as the differences between this and the theatrical release (and it isn’t just the gore level that’s different) and for explaining a little bit more just what the hell is going on at the end. “Darren’s Video Diary” is just that, a behind-the-scenes record of the production, which highlights just how hard the creators worked to keep the storyline secret, and how difficult that could be. “The Traps of Saw IV” is a six-part featurette on the death traps, with each set-up getting its own little feature, and one gets a sense of how much work is involved in still coming up with new ways to off people. “The Props of Saw IV” looks in more detail at individual devices. There’s a music video by band X Japan, one deleted scenes, and trailers for other Lionsgate releases and the promising Condemned 2: Bloodshot game.
For fans of the franchise, this unrated edition is definitely the way to go, as the gore is delivered in spades. Enough is done with the Jigsaw character to convince me that my initial thought that the series was played out may be wrong, but the twisting of the plot is becoming a bit much.