The carnage continues in ‘Saw IV’ |

The carnage continues in ‘Saw IV’

Howie Nave
Scott Patterson plays Agent Strahm in "Saw IV." / Steve Wilkie / Lions Gate Films

In continuing with the Halloween theme of movies opening this weekend, we have one of the few Halloween franchises (of this century so far) that have weathered the critics and the jinxes that have plagued many a horror thriller. The thought process in releasing a horror film on Halloween weekend was that most fans of the holiday (yes, I refer to it as a holiday while others complain) would rather be out in costume and not in a theater, but the “Saw” franchise has once again proven the naysayers wrong.

This is the fourth year in a row that a “Saw” movie has been released, and even with the death of the movie’s main icon, Jigsaw, the movie still delivers in the scream department. But is Jigsaw really dead? Like most of the great evil characters from franchises that supposedly killed off the moneymaker, there are more tricks here than one can get candy from. Through a series of flashbacks and some unanswered threads that haven’t been tied, I wouldn’t write off Jigsaw just yet.

The original “Saw” (2004) introduced the movie-going horror fan to a new, heightened form of scaring someone: a game of wits and mind tweaking with a specified timeline before one expires from the constant tormenting that takes place. Who thinks up this stuff anyway? How about those involved who made unexpected millions off of the surprise hit that was “Saw III”? That movie scared up an incredible $35 million at the box office its first weekend, surpassing all expectations. A “Saw V” is already in the works and, yes, a Halloween release date is already planned.

With Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and his assistant, Amanda (Shawnee Smith), dead, how can the franchise continue? Oh, sure the new characters are OK, and the traps this time out are in line with the standard set from the first movie, but “Saw IV” has a lot to measure up to, and even though not as original as the first outing, it does deliver in the intensity department.

With the slate literally wiped clean (so much blood and leftover parts), “Saw IV” concentrates on the surviving member from Jigsaw’s menacing game, SWAT Commander Rigg (Lyriq Bent), who finds himself again reliving the hell, but with a new set of deadly traps.

I have to stress this isn’t a prequel, but it helps seeing the previous movies to know the back-story. This sets up some of the reasons from previous “Saw” movies as to what certain individuals said and what some of those mysterious notes indicated as well.

— Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv comedy club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout northern California and Nevada, including Sirius Radio. He hosts “Howie’s Morning Rush” on Tahoe’s KRLT radio and you can see his film reviews on RSN.

Keepin’ it reel:

Now Playing: “Saw IV”

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Lyriq Bent, Athena Karkanis, Justin Louis, Simon Reynolds, Donnie Wahlberg, Angus Macfadyen, Shawnee Smith, Bahar Soomekh, Dina Meyer

Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman

Rated: R for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture throughout, and for language

Running time: 1 hour 48 minutes

Howie gives it: 3 out of 5 bagels

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