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Blu-ray Review: Saw IV

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The Saw series has become a yearly tradition. This will probably continue until the box office dries up, and that can’t be much longer. Saw IV is the breaking point.

It’s slowly becoming apparent that the original set-up is beginning to weigh heavily on the series. The most interesting aspect of this sequel are its flashbacks into Jigsaw’s psyche and his reasons for creating his maniacal traps. Sadly these remain all too brief, and Tobin Bell's performance is hard to appreciate because of the time constraints.

Instead of giving a backstory, the franchise has to be filled with gruesome deaths, each topping the previous films. The time they use in a 90-minute movie is staggering. It’s formulaic by this point, standing apart from any crime drama on TV only by the willingness to go further each time.

Granted, the traps this time out are slightly more ingenious in their design. Saw III required an inordinate amount of stupidity on the part of Jigsaw’s unwilling players to work. Saw IV’s logic center is definitely stronger.

Even the gore is becoming tiring though. The opening sequence with an autopsy goes on forever, while its purpose could have been handled in less than a minute using the customary Darren Lynn Bousman quick-cut style. Instead, the audience endures Jigsaw having his brain taken out, his chest ripped open, and stomach torn apart. It’s not offensive or sick, it’s simply overdone and pointless. It’s nothing but an attempt to gag the audience from the start, yet without a point.

The winding plot line that is slowly developing with each new entry is interesting. Why these couldn’t be condensed into a single film to wrap things up instead of forcing audiences to drop ten dollars each year is purely for financial reasons. Either the formula breaks down, or the franchise does.

It’s hard for a movie shrouded in darkness to benefit from this HD presentation. The black levels are far too deep, blotting out details in faces and backgrounds. There’s an obviously apparent sharpness increase from the DVD version, though the actual benefit is meager at best. Color saturation is maintained to keep the accuracy of the various filters used during filming.

With all of its spinning camera angles and incomprehensible edits, the audio does get a workout. LionsGate 7.1 mix is active. Screams come from all angles, and voices surround the viewer effectively. Small groans from various locations are a nice touch in all channels. The subwoofer remains subdued though.

Two commentaries are included to kick off the extras, the first coming from all four producers. The second is from director Bousman and lead actor Lyriq Bent. Darren’s Video Diary is a half-hour collection of things shot on set, and makes for fun viewing.

Traps of Saw IV follow the latter in style, giving viewers a nice look at how the twisted contraptions used to kill people come about. There are seven featurettes in total, running for almost 17 minutes. Props of Saw IV picks up where Traps left off, running for nine minutes.

One solitary deleted scene is included along with a music video, a trailer for the video game Condemned 2, and loads of trailers. Finally, the disc is enabled for online features, though no current Blu-ray player is capable of using them.

The morning after Saw II opened, Saw IV was a go. The first sequel has proven to be the biggest box office success to date, and the opening weekend solidified two more movies. Unsurprisingly, solid earnings from the fourth has created a need for a fifth film in this franchise.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.