>> Saw IV (Brandon’s Review, 6.5/10)

Saw IVI don’t know what there is left to say about the franchise. Do you like blood and guts and flashbacks? You’ll get all of those. Do you want complications, contradictions and contrivances? You’ll get those too. I don’t completely hate the “Saw” franchise– part two works best, one is just the shoddy realization of what turned out to be a durable franchise and part three was genuinely squirm inducing but it had an uppity biting the hand that feeds it attitude that rubbed me the wrong way. I realized as this one started that departing writers James Wan and Leigh Whannell (here on board as producers) were trying to kill the franchise dead… for themselves. As you can see it worked out for them. I was eager for the new blood to come in, but I find myself somewhat of a fence sitter.Following the events of “SAW III” two FBI agents are sent in to investigate the death of Detective Kerry (Dina Meyer) and discover that death is just the beginning as Jigsaw’s work continues unabated by his death. A former colleague of Kerry’s (Lyriq Bent) has a problem with helping people and so begins a game that will teach him the value of learning to let go, an odd tactic considering the original intentions were the importance of valuing the life you have and not being a horrible person. But the “Saw” franchise is nothing if not a fan of supplanting you pretty firmly in “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” territory. And while this old colleague of Kerry’s faces his test a couple of FBI agent contacts of hers go to work looking for Jigsaw’s accomplice– a fact they gather from keenly observing the crime scene and realizing that little petite, dead Amanda couldn’t have lifted up Kerry alone, she needed bigger, stronger help.

The good news is that this is the best acted film in the franchise so far and I don’t mean that it has some good bad performances, everyone is actually really good. The film is only about a quarter as “aren’t jump cuts scary” as you’d expect and there are a couple of really nice transitional wipes. There is also a long autopsy at the beginning and some other good gory stuff but I thought someone might care enough to want to know that other facets of the production have improved dramatically as well.

A downside to the film is that with Jigsaw and Amanda dead and the way the film ends you find yourself wondering whose left to test and why didn’t this person set up some kind of booby trap for whoever got the door shut on them? It looks like they could easily walk out a couple of minutes later and everyone can go home and buy light bulbs and be glad that this damn crazy morality test is over and done with.

The “Saw” films are what they are, the craftsmanship will improve but I doubt that your emotional investment will increase in any way.

6.5 on a 1 to 10 scale

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