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By Michael Ferraro | October 29, 2007

There’s just no stopping it. The “Saw” franchise is a force to be reckoned with. We will probably see a new “Saw” film every year for the next millennia. There is already talk of them shooting the next two (parts V and VI respectively) at the same time, which would then cover the next two Octobers. For horror fans looking for unique and original experiences, this bit of news couldn’t get any more depressing.

Now, I’ve seen every film in this franchise. Sadly, I can’t really remember the details of any of them, as they are pretty forgettable. From what little details my memory did provide me with however, “Saw IV” picks up right where the last one left off.

The infamous Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is dead, as is his cohort Amanda (Shawnee Smith). But as the horror genre has shown us many times before, just because a villain is dead, doesn’t mean their legacy doesn’t live on. Jigsaw was smart enough to concoct a plan that would be carried out after his death.

That plan involves Riggs (Lyriq Bent), an obsessed SWAT team member being unwillingly thrown into Jigsaw’s latest game. Detective Mathews (Donnie Wahlberg) is still alive and it’s up to Riggs to complete a series of tests in order to get him out alive.

Meanwhile, in a “Law and Order” style plotting method, a pair of FBI agents is still in the midst of the Jigsaw investigation. Here is where I am a bit confused… I seem to remember reading a few articles in the media about Tobin Bell’s appearance in this film (since his character is dead) wouldn’t include too many flashbacks.

Well, “Saw IV” has more flashbacks than a homeless Vietnam vet on acid. Not just with Bell’s character but all throughout. There are even flashbacks to scenes that happened just a few minutes prior. And as with all “Saw” films, there is that end flashback-recap scene in case you’re too stupid to comprehend the intricacies of the screenplay, or in case you fell asleep (the filmmakers probably provide that for the latter).

Director Darren Lynn Bousman’s career consists only of three “Saw” films (II-IV) thus far but it’s safe to say that he pretty much just made the same movie three times. The first “Saw” was somewhat of an intriguing film that was plagued with bad acting from otherwise good actors (Danny Glover’s performance in that film is absolutely terrifying). The rest of the series includes not only that fatal flaw but annoyingly predictable story arches as well. The magic of the intricate death traps is long gone.

It is told that the next film will have a new director. Let us hope that he or she (sadly that is doubtful) watches these last three entries. It’s obvious they don’t have to change a thing (look at their box office receipts) but it would be nice to spice it up with something new. And these headache-inducing editing tactics do nothing but, well, induce headaches. For devotees of the series, the gore is still there and the traps are just as weird as they were in the other entries but for the rest of us, your mind will forget it the second the end credits roll.

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