Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson,
Betsy Russell, Lyriq Bent, Donnie Wahlberg. Rated R.
Poor Jigsaw. The architect of the most deadly
committed to celluloid has endured inoperable cancer, a debilitating car crash
and even the premature death of his son, but nothing as painful or degrading as
He deserves better. Despite his macabre methods, John
“Jigsaw” Kramer (Tobin Bell) has remained one of the most charismatic serial
killers in screen history through two chilling sequels. Now, he is back,
however improbably, after suffering a lethal cut to the throat in Saw III.
Needless to say, he’s in a sour mood.
He should be, since, like one of his many victims, he
trapped in the mechanics of a plot that defies common sense. While the Saw
franchise has often strained the limits of the imagination, it has always been
informed by a twisted but durable logic – until now. Saw IV thrusts Jigsaw
and his arbitrarily chosen accomplices back onto the killing floor through a
series of expository flashbacks that strip the bogeyman of his menace and
reason. All that’s left, in the end, is a grotesquely mutilated corpse, which
serves as a fine metaphor for the movie itself.
For fans – and I count myself among them –
there is hope
that Saw V, inevitably due next Halloween, will recapture the inspired (and
aggressively distasteful) lunacy of past installments. Donnie Wahlberg, whose
long-suffering Det. Mathews finally meets a most bitter end in Saw IV, won’t
be there. Will Jigsaw? Who knows? As the late, great Fred Gwynne argued so
emphatically in Pet Sematary, sometimes dead is better.