Sun. Jul 3rd, 2022

Since 2004, the Halloween horror movie market has been dominated by the “Saw” film series. The initial “Saw” became an instant classic, due in part to its originality, and it gave the horror genre a new supervillain. The most successful horror series have always contained a supervillain. Each villain contains something distinct about them. Freddy Krueger attacks teenagers primarily in dreams with bladed gloves. Jason possesses superhuman strength, a hockey mask and a machete. Pinhead controls the puzzle box and many devises of torture that border pain and pleasure. These characters gave rise to three very popular horror series-“Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Friday the 13th” and “Hellraiser”-but all of these horror icons are supernatural. These movies contained moments of terror and fright, but the audience watching knew that these events could never possibly occur in real life. “Saw” gave rise to a character that was evil and was distinctly recognizable through his methods, but was flesh and blood and could possibly be living in your neighborhood. That is why it is such a huge disappointment to have to watch any of the subsequent “Saw” movies. “Saw IV” is not only a bad movie, but it is the worst movie in the entire “Saw” series.

“Saw IV” starts out with the autopsy of Jigsaw. An audio tape is found during the autopsy and the movie shifts to a building resembling a dungeon. At this crime scene, the audience is introduced to two cops-Hoffman and Riggs-and two federal agents-Agent Strahm and Agent Perez-who are all trying to figure out who is helping Jigsaw. While Strahm and Perez try to catch the Jigsaw gang, Riggs becomes a major part of Jigsaw’s game. While this game is unfolding, Jigsaw’s ex-wife reveals an ulterior motive for why Jigsaw began his insidious puzzles. As the game develops, the unimpressive torture devices, the lessons and the big twist are all revealed.

The “Saw” movies have become known for the horror devices used to teach different people the importance of life. These over-the-top contraptions in the second and third installment of this series gave people a reason (as perverse as it is) to watch the “Saw” movies. Saw had the sawing through the leg, “Saw II” had the pit of needles, and “Saw III” had the machine that snapped a man’s arms, legs, and eventually his head. “Saw IV” lacked the cringe-factor prevalent in the previous films and lacked any real innovative designs for the torture machines, so it relied heavily on other aspects of the movie, which was a big mistake. This put too much of a focus on the character development of Jigsaw.

A portion of the movie aimed to make the audience sympathetic to the actions of Jigsaw. Agent Strahm’s interrogation of the Jigsaw’s ex-wife was where the director tried to convey this. Agent Strahm would ask her who was helping her husband and she would reply with a twenty minute story/flashback that had nothing to do with the question that Agent Strahm asked. So in-between watching the same lessons used in the first three “Saw” films be applied to new characters, the audience was being swayed to believe that Jigsaw was made this way by unfortunate events. No matter what happens to any person, the audience should not feel sorry for a character that makes the BTK killer look like a puppy. The “Saw” series has had four films, yet why can’t anyone seem to follow Jigsaw’s rules?

Why can Jigsaw consistently tricks cops and FBI agents to fall into his traps? They study this man and know that the only way to survive his game is by following the rules; however, they seem to forget all of their previous knowledge and training when faced with the situation. The fact that the only people who survive his games become his minions does not make any sense either. This film raised many questions like these and without the twisted nature of Jigsaw’s evil equipment, the film was garbage.

“Saw” was released during a period where the horror genre was moving towards remakes of old horror movies such as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Fog” and remakes of Japanese horror movies such as “The Ring” and “The Grudge.”

That is why “Saw” made such a big impact and an enormous reason why “Saw IV” is disappointing. “Saw IV” shows how difficult it is to create and sustain a horror series past three films. If Lions Gate continues to push the release of more Saw films, the series will become a bad joke released every October. With the release of “Saw IV,” the “Saw” series now should be compared to the Wishmaster series as one of the worst horror series of all time.

Tom Pittman is a fourth-year student majoring in Psychology with a minor in mathematics. He can be reached at TP623014@wcupa.edu.

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