Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) may be dead but the game isn't over in Saw IV, a slick sequel that gets the floundering series back on track. After a tape recorded message is found in Jig's stomach, Detective Hoffman (Carlos Mandylor) and SWAT Commander Riggs (Lyriq Bent) are thrown into yet another fiendishly complex morality play. With restless flashbacks fleshing out the late Jigsaw's origins and a collection of infernal torture implements shredding the flesh of the living, it's a cut above the rest of Saw's sequels.
Killing off its serial killer villain, Saw III left the franchise with a major headache; how to make a Saw movie without Jigsaw? The answer: don't. Instead, flashbacks show us the making of Bell's monster, a lost family, cancer and car wreck turning him into Jigsaw, the twenty-first century's first bona fide horror icon. Bell plays him as pallid and chillingly still as always; meanwhile, the rest of the cast wade through blood and severed limbs as the sadist's inventively nasty machines do all the hard work. One poor gal is scalped, a rapist is quartered and a survivor from Saw III spends ninety minutes dancing on a melting block of ice; if he falls off, the noose around his neck will ensure he doesn't make it to Saw V.
"A TRULY MISERABLE WORLD"
With two sequels already on his resume, helmer Darren Lynn Housman nails the series' dank, yellowing aesthetic once again. He sticks us in a truly miserable world so lacking in human kindness it could be set in '80s, pre-Giuliani, New York. It's deeply unsettling; just like a horror movie should be. True, the labyrinthine plot makes little sense (is making it impossible to follow a deliberate ploy to ensure DVD sales?) - but then Saw's always been about sensation: an assault on the the stomach, not the brain.
Saw IV is out in the UK on 26th October 2007.