See Saw with Alex, Day 4: Saw IV
An uptick after III.
Day Three: Saw IVSuspecting they would have large significance in later sequels, I yesterday refrained from commenting on Saw III's plethora of useless shots. The camera's fixation on Agent Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), barely above a bit player in part three. Amanda reading a letter. Jigsaw pouring candle wax on a tape. All of these are meant to clue us in to later events in the series, but taking Saw III as a standalone movie (a test that, I believe, all movie sequels have a responsibility to meet), these moments were just dead weight that contributed to an already slow, putrid movie.
All Saw sequels cannibalize previous entries by twisting past events on their head but at least II and IV were good at doing so. There was no point in IV where I was drawn out of the movie because the filmmakers were flagrant and obvious about dumping story material into the movie to be expounded later on. In fact, Saw IV was rather thrilling, easily the most tightly paced of the series so far.
That's quite a feat since it has a quadruple story thread. There's John Kramer's origin, tracking his depressing arc from distinguished gentleman with a hot wife 20 years his junior to crazed Jigsaw. We find out Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) is alive, in a trap with Hoffman. There's also Rigg (Lyriq Bent), long-time series survivor racing to avenge Kerry's death and save Matthews. And then we have Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson), a newcomer agent interrogating Jigsaw's wife, Jill.
Resurrecting Eric Matthews has the guise of being a real crowd pleaser, as we all hope he'll escape and exact some revenge. Instead, his head gets crushed by two ice blocks. Awesome, and truly merciless.
I've liked Patterson since Gilmore Girls and when I heard that he had been cast in a Saw movie back in 2007, I took pity. But, you know what; it's a decent performance and a great character. Strahm is exactly what the series needed at this point: somebody serious, cocky, and competent. It's like when you watch a zombie movie and the heroes know to shoot 'em in the head. You like those people right away and it gives the writers less room to allow them to do stupid things.
Most inventive trap: The ice trap that kills Matthews. Hilariously brutal.
Stupid person in a horror movie moment: I would've figured that Art (the lawyer in charge of keeping Hoffman and Matthews in place) would've told them to keep still for 90 minutes and then they could go free. This was a cheap ploy to keep the audience in suspense.
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