The Saw series lives on, as even a potentially final twist in Saw III does nothing to dissuade the filmmakers that there is more story to tell. Interestingly, Saw IV relies heavily on flashbacks, giving plenty of screen time to franchise lead Tobin Bell. His performance here, in my opinion, is his best in the series, bringing real emotion to the source of his games. Though in some ways this fourth instalment is not as strong as its predecessors, from a personal level this is my favourite Saw film other than the very first, simply due to the expansion of Jigsaw’s backstory.
Darren Lynn Bousman is back in the director’s chair, and series regular Shawnee Smith returns, but new writers are at the helm. Some leftover ideas from the previous films are incorporated into the plot, but the writing as a whole doesn’t feel as strong as it has done up until this point. Still, it’s entertaining. Costas Mandylor reprises his role from Saw III, as does Lyriq Bent who is given leading status here. Betsy Russell, who previously only briefly appeared as Jigsaw’s ex-wife, is given plenty more to do and her performance shows why. She is a fine actor who seems to be finally getting her due.
The plot is similar to before, though begins with an autopsy to change the game. There are the usual ongoing twists, and the plotting begins to feel far-fetched, but it’s all good trashy fun. If you’ve watched up until now, you might as well keep going.