Rated: R :: Released: 26 October 2007
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman :: Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson and Lyriq Bent
By James D. Deaux IV
08 November 2007 — James: Welcome to a special edition of the Tranquil Tirades. I am James, your ever-sardonic host. If you haven't read one of my columns before, basically what I do is I review a movie that I felt was, shall I say, subpar and rip it asunder. My pain is your gain. Well, this review is no different in that vein. The reason this one is special is that this is the first edition of the Tirades that I have conducted with a co-host. Thankfully, our guest was kind enough to sacrifice himself (and his brain) to me for a special joint review of Saw IV. Welcome.
Guest: Indeed, thank you for allowing me to share in your pain. Someone managed to make a movie that offended me on nearly every level, so here I am! Luckily, I didn't have to pay for this movie. That said, I'd still like my money back.
James: I must be the only numbskull on Earth-2.net that actually paid real currency to watch this piece of crap.
Guest: At least you weren't like Mike, who I specifically warned not to see it, and went to see it anyway. I liken it to a toddler putting his fingers in a fan despite the fact that he knows it's going to hurt. But anyways, on to what can loosely be called a movie! Where to begin?
James: It seems to me that any review of any Saw movie I have ever listened to or read starts with, "Where do I / we begin?" And much like all of those reviews, the response that follows is simply, "I don't know." This franchise, for as cool as the premise is, is atrocious. The best word I can think to use to describe the series on a whole is "pseudo-substance." The filmmakers think of themselves as super-intelligent and deep with this so-called storyline, but when you take just a slightly closer look, you can see the series for all of its blatantly obvious flaws.
Guest: Most definitely. It deeply saddens me that a lot of people I actually consider intelligent in the traditional sense find this movie to actually be "deep" on some sort of level.
James: Tell mewhen these people laud the supposed depth of these movies, do you ask them why they are deep? Because to me, every Saw movie is about as superficial as they come.
Guest: Because Jigsaw is sooooooo intriguing... or something. Actually, I think I have it figured out.
James: Enlighten me.
Guest: I look at it this way. There are, generally speaking, two schools of horror: gore horror and psychological horror. Gore horror, in its most effective sense, is almost always funny and over-the-top. Except in these movie. This franchise takes itself so seriously, that people actually are forced to believe on some unconscious level that this is a psychological horror. The only problems with that are A) psychological includes the world "logical," and B) psychological horror is so much more about what you don't see. But this movie does the complete opposite — it holds onto the gore for so long that it no longer matters. And it's not funny gore either, so we're forced to sit on our hands and wait for it to be over, like, for instance, the opening scene.
James: And therein lies one of the biggest problems with the series: in every single movie they feel the need to outline everything that happened the movie — and in the case of the sequels, much of what happened in previous movies — in these unnecessarily fast-paced and loud flashbacks during the closing minutes. They feel obligated to explain it all over again for some reason.
Guest: I'm actually convinced that Saw VI will simply be scenes from Saw II, III, IV, V and random pieces of a Nine Inch Nails video. There's also the old storytelling adage of "if you need to explain something that just happened, it's usually not worth explaining."
James: Exactly. The writers of these movies feel this urge to spoon-feed everything to us. Do you think that they realize that the majority of their fanbase are people who go to these movies simply to see people having their ribcages torn open or their limbs mangled and ripped off?
Guest: That's perhaps the saddest part of all. The people involved in this movie have to actually think that they're writing something brilliant. That's the only explanation for all of this.
James: Either that, or they know how dumb their fanbase is and they take advantage of it. Maybe both explanations apply.
Guest: Well, dumb people do love to spend money. Just look at the Ab Roller. What probably pisses me off the most is that this series, in its annual Halloween release date, could actually have been something great. Something to fill the gap left by Freddy and Jason in their senior years.
James: You know what my biggest grievance with the entire series is? It isn't the piss-poor acting, the plot holes or the pseudo-intellectual script (though all of those still irritate me to no end). It's Jigsaw's choice of victims. He chooses to put policemen and detectives through all of these inane tests; which means, ostensibly, he forces workaholics to go through a living hell. Why? Aren't there some more rapists or murderers he could be going after?
Guest: No. That would make sense.
James: Silly me.
Guest: In Jigsaw's world, being very good at police work is a crime of the highest order. But to be fair, they did have a bunch of criminals in Saw II.
James: I'll grant that the cops he goes after aren't perfect human beings by any stretch. But, they are the ones trying to imprison the very people who prey on vulnerable people such as, I don't know, Jigsaw's pregnant wife!
Guest: Who was probably the least likable character in the movie, looking back on it; and that's saying something. But that's the other thing, her inclusion as a character was completely unnecessary. Okay, you have cancer, survived a car crash, we get it. Half of this movie was a very uninteresting soap opera.
James: Maybe, but putting that aside, Jigsaw's goal is to make people appreciate their lives and in essence, change their behavior. By targeting law enforcement officials all the time, he is taking the very people who would help protect the public at large off the street and helping more of the people like that psycho asshole in Saw II stay on the streets.
Guest: Indeed. And watching a vigilante who tortures criminals would have made a whole hell of a lot more sense considering they're trying so hard for some reason to make Jigsaw sympathetic. But that would have actually made the movie somewhat good, I imagine. And we can't have that.
James: That, and if he was actually only torturing criminals. Last I checked, Strahm and Perez weren't criminals. What did Perez do to deserve having that doll explode into her neck and face? But that goes back to what you just said. Jigsaw is a murderer, but he is supposed to get a pass for torturing and killing people? Not only that, we're supposed to sympathize with this lunatic? I love how in Saw II Jigsaw had the audacity to claim that he didn't kill people. Sure, buddy. You're Mr. Clean.
Guest: Yeah. If I find a way to kill someone with the board game Mouse Trap, it might take me a while, but I still killed you, despite the fact that you may have had time to get away. You want to save people? Get rid of the time limits!
James: Yeah, it's like, "You have done bad things. You have a choice to make. You can save yourself... but I'm only giving you 45 seconds to do it."
Guest: "You have the exact running time of a cheaply made motion picture to figure out this game." That's the other huge problem with this movie — time.
James: Remember that episode of Justice League, "Wild Cards"? That was how you utilize a timer. Saw? Not so much.
Guest: I think everyone can learn a little bit from Justice League, but that's beside the point. The chronology of these movies is officially fucked. Things simply can't happen the way they claim it did.
James: Yep. I don't care how they try to dig their way out of the three or four mammoth plot holes they dug themselves into with Saw IV in Saw V — they are screwed. Royally. But people will still go and see them, by god.
Guest: They're not plot holes! They just haven't explained them yet! You gotta look at the big picture!
James: Ha. Ha, I say.
Guest: That entire defense is absurd, though. People act as if they planned to have more than just the first three movies all along. Hell, they should have never had a sequel.
James: These movies have all coagulated and congealed into a huge, tortuous throng of bullshit. Nobody knows where one event ends and another begins.
Guest: I think the only way to truly end this series is with David Hasselhoff coming out of the shower and revealing that it was all a dream. Then I'll forgive them for everything.
James: That would make more sense than anything that has happened in this entire series.
Guest: I look on the bright side, though.
James: No, you don't. That's why you're here.
Guest: No, no. I've found one bright spot for the coming sequels.
James: Oh, do tell.
Guest: At least they won't feature Jigsaw's penis.
James: ... okay, you got me there.
Guest: Oh wait... flashbacks. Damn it!
James: Ha, owned.
Guest: The actor is signed on for the next two movies, so they'll have to be flashbacks. Seriously, what is there left to tell with him? When Jigsaw was eight, his mother wouldn't by him an Almond Joy, and therefore, he must kill!
James: His name is Tobin Bell. And there is nothing. His entire story has been told. But somehow, we'll find out that everything Detective Hoffman is supposed to do and will do was all really Jigsaw's plan, not his.
Guest: The man is so brilliant that he's already planted hundreds of tape recorders across America. Except, he was bedridden. And the only guy helping him with the tapes is the guy he is going to test now. So, that means there must be another 15 or so sidekicks.
James: You know what's great about the warehouse scene that ends Saw IV? What if any one of the three guys traversing the damn building had come across one another? Jigsaw's entire plan would have been screwed. But that Jigsaw — he's such a control freak. Everything just magically falls his way.
Guest: No, that's just damn good construction.
Guest: Apparently this building is also about three square miles, and the only room that connects with any of the others is the one at the end. It's brilliant. And just wait until Saw V, when it's revealed that Cary Elwes was still in there crawling around without a foot somewhere at the same time.
James: Of course. Remember, Jigsaw is an engineer, a psychologist, a surgeon, a biologist, an executioner, an architect, a genius-level strategist and some would say one hell of a snappy dresser. He can do it all!
Guest: See, if I was Jigsaw's apprentice, I would simply buy stock in tape recorders. I'd be set for life.
James: Sony must love Jigsaw.
Guest: Oh god, thanks for reminding me. There's going to be a Saw video game. Kill me now.
James: Somehow this doesn't surprise me. Oh, wait, I remember now. Back when I originally heard this news, I questioned how the hell you could construct a video game around that premise. What kind of game engine would you use? What would be the objective? Who would you play as? It's insane.
Guest: You would play as the mysterious 18th victim in the warehouse, at the same time as Rigg, Strahm and Jeff. The engine? Pac-Man's. You must navigate the labyrinth of a warehouse while avoiding the plot holes! Only by swallowing a wax covered tape can you win.
James: Impossible. You'd never win. The plot holes are too colossal.
Guest: They'll be the Devil May Cry 2-esque bosses.
James: Speaking of plot holes, you brought one up on the Oratory a couple weeks ago. For those of you readers who haven't listened to episode 169 of Earth-2.net: The Show, share it with them.
Guest: God, there are so many. Ah yes, I remember now. At the very end, when all three of the men converge in the meat lockerwhateverthatthingis, Strahm shoots Jeff and Hoffman immediately locks Strahm inside. With Jigsaw! So... how did they get Jigsaw's body out for the autopsy? To make it even more confusing, the guys that they casted for Hoffman and Strahm looked way too similar. To the point that I didn't even realize who was doing what until I Wikied it later. If you have to fucking read Wikipedia to explain the ending to a movie you just watched, you've made a bad movie, my friends. Like I said, this movie had the potential to be the annual fun campy gore horror, or the creepy psychological mystery. And it utterly failed on both ends.
James: I honestly don't want to think about these plot holes. They literally make my head hurt. You know what's funny, though? Rigg, whose entry into this charade of Jigsaw's is by far the lamest in the entire series, actually followed Jigsaw's instructions for the most part. He let that fat guy in the motel die. He killed the hooker in his house (even though he didn't need to). The only thing he did wrong was try... to... save people. Uh, yeah. That's a horrible thing to be obsessed over, isn't it?
Guest: And he was the only one besides Jigsaw to actually have a character. I mean, he had a wife for a few seconds there.
James: Pathetic, isn't it?
Guest: I guess we're supposed to be upset when he fails at the end, but instead, it becomes, "Well, you should have stayed put, you dumb motherfucker. Serves you right."
James: Essentially, Rigg was thrown into the fray because he works too hard and his wife is pissy. Oh, no! Not that!
Guest: Maybe if they spent those 75 minutes of Jigsaw's origin on Rigg we might have actually had a reason to care. What if Rigg lost his kid because he wasn't there for his wife? That's still not great, but it's something.
James: Then we'd have a reason to care about another character, and we can't have that craziness, by golly. This is all about Emosaw!
Guest: Yes, we must weep for the villain, a character that was dead before this movie even started. Oops, I'm sorry, at the end. Or something...
James: Wait, maybe it will be in Saw V that he actually dies, and that was a carefully and intricately molded mannequin of Jigsaw in the morgue.
Guest: No, it was his secret twin brother — Bonesaw. That's what this movie needed. Randy goddamn Savage.
James: Couldn't have made it any worse. So, is there anything else we need to complain about?
Guest: I can't stress enough how much better this movie would have been with a different director, cast and writers. Other than that, no. This movie isn't worth any more of our time.
James: Well, then I guess that's a wrap. Despite our longing for any kind of logic to this series and all of our ranting here, we thoroughly enjoyed having this conversation. Thank you for reading it. Until next Halloween, when Saw V: Revenge of Jigsaw's Intestinal Tract hits theatres, I am James and this has been another heartwarming and uplifting installment of the not-so-Tranquil Tirades. Now, what shall I grade this?
Grade: 5 / 100 — Mercy is for the weak. Saw is for the weak-minded.