Plot: What’s it about?
If it’s January, or in this case February, then it must be time for the latest installment of “Saw” to come to DVD. As it turns out, it is and it has. For the uninitiated, the “Saw” line of movies have become almost a staple of the Halloween-time horror festivities and with their success at the box office, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see “Saw V” later this year. These movies aren’t for everyone, they depict cruel, medieval torture techniques and I can honestly say that I’m scared as hell to meet the people who think up some of the scenes in these movies. The “Saw” movies are a combination of psychological terror and some of the most graphic violence I’ve seen on film. I think that’s what makes them so fun to watch. The underlying theme, however, is that these people aren’t just picked and tortured at random, but they’re all “bad” people who have done either someone or themselves some wrong-doing. They’re given a chance at redemption, but usually at the cost of some bodily harm and in most cases, death.
“Saw IV” actually does break some new ground in that we finally get a back story as to who and what Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) really is and why he does what he does. The movie needed this, by the way, as the character has gotten progressively less and less screen time over the course of the movies. Seeing as how this movie starts out with his autopsy, there needed to be some more of him and his story otherwise the entire franchise might have suffered. We learn that he was married to Jill (Betsy Russell) and that they lost a child due to a random act of desperation. This is what spurred John (Jigsaw) to spiral into his masochistic ways and why his marriage suffered because of it. The main focus is on officer Rigg (Lyriq Bent) and his obsession to save everyone he meets. He’s lured into the game by Jigsaw from beyond the grave and must do what others in previous installments have done win the game or lose his life in the process.
I have to admit that “Saw IV” was probably my favorite installment of the series so far. I didn’t really care for the middle two as they seemed to fall in the trap that most sequels fall into they’re overdone. I liked the back story that came with this movie and it makes the others a bit clearer as to why they were what they were. Naturally there’s no substitute for the original and while we’re missing Carey Elwes and Danny Glover, the cast really isn’t that important (except for Tobin Bell, of course). These movies certainly aren’t for everyone and if you can get past the cruel torture scenes and focus on the plot (yeah, right) then you might find them pretty enjoyable. The franchise shows no signs of slowing down and I’m sure as long as these movies continue to make a profit, they’ll keep making them. However if the series ended here, it would be a good spot as it provides a lot of answer to questions its predecessors asked.
Video: How does it look?
“Saw IV” comes to Blu-ray in a 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer that looks to be on par with the other “Saw” movies. These are all very dark in nature and in the way they’re shot with most scenes being in a dimly-lit basement (or dungeon) with very little natural light present. Even the scenes in the office are under a fluorescent light that give the actors a very green look and feel to them. Essentially what I’m saying is that if you’re looking for a movie with very bright and vivid colors, you’ll need to look somewhere else. The transfer doesn’t really have too many faults which is pretty impressive considering how dark it all is. I found black levels to be very strong and consistent with hardly any artifacting at all. I found a few scenes when I saw a bit of motion in the shadows, but only once or twice. Fans of “Saw IV” will appreciate exactly how good this movie looks on Blu-ray.
Audio: How does it sound?
Lion’s Gate has given us yet another DTS Master Audio on this movie that sounds, for the most part, extremely good. I’ve said it before that DTS Master Audio soundtracks are my favorite to listen to simply because they sound the best. This is a matter of opinion, of course, but I find it hard to top some of these tracks. Dialogue is very natural and we get plenty of ambient surround effects in a few of the key scenes. Granted, this isn’t a war or science-fiction movie, so there is some limit to what the sound will have but for what it is I was very impressed and again, it’s on par with the other “Saw” movies.
Supplements: What are the extras?
“Saw IV” does have a fairly sampling of supplements most notably with the two commentary tracks. We start off with the first track with director Darren Bousman and actor Lyriq Bent. The track isn’t too great with Bent not giving us a lot and Bousman complaining about how he didn’t want to do the movie. The second track is a bit more interesting with the production team that gives us a bit more insight on the movie, background and the actual storyline. A 30-minute video diary of Bousman is also included as are two pretty interesting featurettes: The props of Saw IV’ and The traps of Saw IV’. There’s a deleted scene, a theatrical trailer and a music video to boot. There’s also a Blu-ray exclusive with a link to molog.com (Movie Log) but my player wasn’t able to access the feature. Try it at your own risk.