This Week at the Movies: Saw IV

When <i>Saw</i> first came out in 2004, this low budget film was met with critical acclaim for being an original idea and a new spin on the horror genre. It was then decided that the story should be fleshed out even more and have the concept expanded upon. So a sequel was made… and then another… and another… and another until today. <i>Saw VI</i>, directed by Kevin Greutert and written by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, is the so-called final chapter of the epic saga. The twisted games and that super creepy doll are back once more to make the viewer appreciate life as if their mouths were in a ticking device of death. However, those with a weak stomach or a very thorough knowledge of the story may want to pass on this one.

The story picks up directly where the last movie left off, with the escape of bad cop and Jigsaw accomplice Inspector Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) and the brutal death of his pursuer, Inspector Strom. Then, after the very brief transition between films, the viewer is thrown right into the action and forced to witness what the Saw movies are best known for: disgusting and gut wrenching “games” that puts the human will to the test. The rest of the film then focuses on the game of one specific person, William, a CEO at a medical insurance company. Over the course of the movie, we see him go through various trials and watch the lives of his coworkers disappear in one of the most elaborate “games” of the series. This comes off mainly as being a contrite stab at social commentary that just seems stupid in a movie like this. While one can appreciate the film’s attempt at being current, politics don’t really belong in horror. Running tangent to this plot is the sort of main story arch that connects to the rest of the movies. However, this is almost impossible to follow if one does not have a detailed knowledge of the previous Saw characters and plot. They attempt to explain things to new viewers by flashing back and forth between scenes from previous movies or retelling scenes from different perspectives. They also have dead characters return to life to explain plot points in what appears to be schizophrenic hallucinations by the living characters. This, however, does little good in informing newcomers about the underlying story. All in all, it just confuses everyone a whole lot more.

Something should be said about the set design in this movie. While very twisted, the devices used to kill those who do not appreciate life are continually imaginative and realistic. The deadly maze that William must cross constantly changes pace, shape and color in a way that keeps the viewer interested throughout. However, this can be lost in the cinematography and editing. Camera angles are a mix between unoriginal and just downright confusing. Pans are jarring and sometimes it’s very difficult to find the focus of the scene. The editor must have had a fun time making this movie. Clips constantly flash back and forth between different angles in the present of one object or flash back in time. It’s really hard to tell the difference between the two. The color filters are turned up so high on some scenes that it washes it out everything else. You are in for quite the ride through this movie.

Even despite its weak plot and shoddy production values, this movie can be pretty entertaining at its core. If you’re just looking for an hour and half of being grossed out beyond belief and cringing at every severed limb, then look no further. If you’re a Saw fanatic and you’ve seen the first five, might as well complete the collection. Everyone else, however, will be either confused or puking by the end.