Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Starring Tobin Bell, Lyriq Bent
Walking out of the latest sour headache of a Saw movie, I was consumed by a single question: Why are people going to see these movies? They’re cynical, depressing, and not that whole “fun” thing one would associate with Halloween. Now I’m not gonna say a couple of them aren’t decent, but they use up the same tricks over and over again and thrive on shallow, rusty shit. So why do people want to hurt the horror genre to the extent that they’re willing to shell over their ticket money every final weekend in October like clockwork? In three days, Saw IV made more money than the infinitely superior 30 Days of Night did in nine days. So with all the bellyaching I hear about how these movies suck, why do people still go?
Why do they hate America?
I have a couple of theories. I think some might wish to stay on the crest of the pop culture wave. If they don’t see it when everyone else does, what on earth will they talk about at work on Monday? Or hanging out with their friends that night? And I have nothing to tell these people other than “You’re fucking worthless, you’re dragging the curve down, stop going to the movies, you don’t deserve them.”
But there is another theory all the more sinister. These movies just might be attended by a whole bunch of unpaid Internet movie-humps like me, hoping to drum up some late October readers for whatever site or blog they post their stuff on. And they are read by OTHER unpaid Internet movie-humps looking for commiseration on the pissery and moanery of “HAVING” to see Saw IV. If this is the case, then I’ll be a man and admit it. I’m part of the problem.
What with all my waxing theoretic, I forgot about the actual movie. Fourth verse, same as first, second, and third!
Gory trap, development of characters we don’t give a shit about, gory trap, flashback, gory trap, the introduction of a time limit, gory trap, flashback, gory trap, wildly implausible ending, door left open for sequel, credits.
Aw, and I spoiled it for you.
The draw of these movies just may be the insidious and cynical nature of their plotting. Each Saw movie spends ninety minutes being wholly illogical and stupid. “How did that guy get there to do that thing before time ran out when he was supposed to be somewhere else?” Each following movie pulls whatever poor excuse it can out of its ass while being wholly illogical and stupid in its own right to warrant a sequel. A neverending cycle of defeat and rolled eyeballs. It gets as convoluted in this one as one of Jigsaw’s traps. Everyone in the movie gets a little Jigsaw audiotape, an ultimatum, and a destination across town to go to. Is he a serial killing life coach? Or is he Mr. Phelps from Mission: Impossible?
Yeah it’s gory, but neither this film nor any of the previous three were scary. You remember scary, don’t you? The cold pit in the bottom of your stomach opening up and trying to swallow the rest of you whole? The hairs on the back of your neck standing on end and trying to escape into the atmosphere? And while I was willing to give the second and third ones a little leeway because the gimmicky traps served a purpose and helped tell a story, Saw IV is back to Saw I form (and no, not in a good way, because that movie sucks). Why are the traps so convoluted? Why does the plot bounce around like a coked up SuperBall? Because the writers can’t do their jobs and they have ninety minutes to kill.
I guess there are a couple of things to recommend. Lyriq Bent, who popped up in the first three and makes his lead debut here, has a lot of presence, and knows his way around impenetrable dialogue. I’d like to see him in a movie that respects both him AND the audience.
And Jigsaw’s credo of “Cherish your life” really sinks in this time around. I should value every minute and not devote my life to a practice that defeats me. Which is why this is my last Saw movie. I’m done. I’m knee deep in a Hellraiser thing right now, and doing that TWICE is more appetizing than seeing Saw V. Not even in morbid curiosity, not even to deride. I don’t want to see Tobin Bell cart his sorry, decrepit ass around anymore. If you genuinely LIKE these movies, then by no means should you let me stop you. I don’t want to know what you dream about, or how you sleep at night to dream those dreams in the first place, but as long as you don’t talk to me on the street, the evil, genre-killing creation James Wan has wrought is all yours without any reprisal from yours truly.
But the ones I do want to reach are my fellow critics. You don’t like these movies. The people who read your reviews don’t like these movies. You’re not reaching or helping anyone. Just stop, and maybe you’ll be happier in general. This is the third consecutive installment they hasn’t screened for critics. Guys, THEY’RE TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING!
So good-bye shitty movie franchise, I knew ye more than I’d have liked. I think I’ll adapt my own tag line in these next few years:
“If it’s Halloween, I must be at home reading a book.”
* out of 4