Saw IV is a mystery psychological thriller and the fourth installment of the Saw franchise, first released in 2007. Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and written by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Thomas Fenton, the film's story revolves around Officer Daniel Rigg, who has to face one of the Jigsaw Killer's gruesome games, while the FBI is looking for another, yet unknown, apprentice of Jigsaw in their attempt to finally end the murders. The fourth movie further explores the life of John Kramer before the events which turned him into the Jigsaw Killer. Furthermore, it serves to bridge the gap between the first trilogy and the future films.
Following the events of Saw III, the corpse of John Kramer, the Jigsaw Killer, is examined at the morgue. During this autopsy, a wax-coated audio tape is found in his stomach. Therefore, Detective Mark Hoffman is called to the morgue to listen to the tape, which contains a message from John Kramer himself, who warns Hoffman that the games will continue and that he will be tested as well.
The scene shifts to a mausoleum, where two men, Trevor and Art Blank, are chained by their necks to a winch-like device in the middle of the room. Trevor's eyes and Art's mouth have been sewn shut, making communication nearly impossible. Unable to see anything, Trevor accidentally activates the device, which starts to pull them together. In panic, Trevor attacks Art, but is ultimately killed by him in self defense. Art retrieves a key, which is attached to Trevor's chain and uses it to free himself. As he begins to scream, he rips open his mouth.
Shortly afterwards, a SWAT team led by Officer Daniel Rigg and Detective Mark Hoffman raids an underground area, where they find the corpse of their partner, Detective Allison Kerry, who had been missing for four days already. Just after they secured the crime scene, Hoffman is introduced to the FBI special agents Peter Strahm and Lindsey Perez, who inform him that Kerry had been their informant inside the police department. Along with her last message, which said "Open the door and you will find me", they had received a key with a yet unknown purpose. Upon investigating Kerry's corpse, they quickly realize that the trap, which had killed her, had been inescapable and therefore suspect someone else than John Kramer behind the murder. However, they also deduce that his accomplice, Amanda Young, couldn't have set up the trap on her own, leading to the conclusion that there was another accomplice of Jigsaw involved in her death.
Since the disappearance of his colleague, Detective Eric Matthews, six months earlier, Officer Riggs suffers from depression, which become even worse after Kerry's death. However, he is convinced that Eric is still alive and becomes obsessed with finding him. Later that night, he is attacked and subdued in his own apartment. After waking up again, a video tape by Jigsaw informs him that Eric is in fact still alive and has 90 minutes left to save himself. The survival of Detective Hoffman, who was abducted as well, is connected to Eric's fate. However, Jigsaw warns him that their survival depends on his obsession with saving them.
Moments later, Rigg finds a woman named Brenda, who is chained to a mechanical chair in his living room. Another tape of Jigsaw tells Rigg to simply go away and leave her behind. Rigg, however, tries to save her and thereby accidentally activates the chair, which begins to slowly tear off her scalp. Eventually, he manages to free her, but is suddenly attacked by her with a knife hidden underneath the TV. After killing her in self defense, Rigg finds a tape recorder, which had told Brenda, who was in fact a pimp, to kill Rigg as he would arrest her for her crimes if she refused to do so.
While Rigg leaves the scene to find his second test, Strahm and Perez are called to his apartment. As they enter it along with a SWAT team, they find Brenda's corpse, as well as several photos on the wall. While most of them show the victims of Rigg's game, including Eric, Hoffman and Brenda, some of them show a woman named Jill Tuck, the ex-wife of John Kramer. Therefore, she is taken to the police station for interrogation.
Meanwhile, Rigg arrives at the Alexander Motel to face his second test. In one of the rooms, he finds another audio message, which tells him to abduct the motel proprietor, Ivan Landsness, who is a violent serial rapist but has repeatedly escaped justice. Angered by seeing videos and photos of Ivan's crimes, Rigg forces him into a prearranged trap. Ivan has to choose to either gouge his eyes out within 60 seconds or to being dismembered by the trap. As he can only bring himself to sacrifice one of his eyes, his limbs are ripped off his body.
Rigg leaves the motel after finding the next clue, which leads him to an elementary school, where Rigg had once attacked a man named Rex, whom he suspected of physically abusing his wife, Morgan, and his daughter, Jane. Hoffman had intervened and staved off a criminal charge against Rigg. As he arrives at the school, he finds Morgan and Rex in one of the classrooms, impaled back to back by several metal spikes. At the time Rigg finds them, Rex has already succumbed to his wounds as the spikes had pierced his major arteries, while only inflicting non-lethal wounds on Morgan. Prior to Rigg's arrival, Morgan had been given the choice to die of bloodloss or to remove the spikes, which eventually resulted in her husband's death. Upon investigating the classroom, Rigg finds a clue to Eric Matthews' and Mark Hoffman's location, along with a message, which tells him to go home. Therefore, Rigg sets off the fire alert to make sure that Morgan was found, while he left the school to go to the location of his final test.
Shortly afterwards, the police, as well as Strahm and Perez, arrive at the school in time to save Morgan. They find out, that Brenda, Ivan and Rex had all committed various crimes, but were successfully defended by the same lawyer, Art Blank, who is also the lawyer of Jill Tuck. As they further investigate the school, they find a mechanical ventriloquist puppet, commonly used by Jigsaw to communicate with his victims, in the principal's office. Another audio tape tells Perez that her partner "will soon take the life of an innocent man" and warns her that her "next move is critical." Ignoring the warning, she takes a closer look at the puppet. A few seconds later, the puppet's face suddenly explodes, severely injuring her face and neck with shrapnel. As she is taken to the hospital, she gives Strahm the key sent to them by Detective Kerry.
Furious, Strahm returns to the police station, where he angrily interrogates Jill. Pressured by him, she finally tells him about her and John's past. When they were still married, Jill was pregnant with a boy, who was going to be called Gideon. However, she lost the child due to a miscarriage when Cecil Adams, one of her patients at her recovery clinic for drug addicts, attempted to rob her. Following this tragedy, John grew apart from Jill, resulting in their divorce. When he received his cancer diagnosis shortly afterwards and survived a subsequent attempted suicide, John decided to spend his last remaining days on testing other people's will to survive in order to make them appreciate their lives. His first test subject was Cecil, whom he abducted and strapped to a chair, which slowly cut his wrists. To escape the trap, Cecil had to press his face into several knives. As he did, the chair suddenly collapsed. As he attempted to attack John, the latter evaded his assault, causing Cecil to fall into a cage filled with barbed wire, where he ultimately died. Upon listening to Jill's story, Strahm realizes that her son, Gideon, had the same name as John's first building as a civil engineer, the Gideon Meatpacking Plant, and concludes that this was the place of Rigg's final test.
Meanwhile, Rigg has arrived at the abandoned plant and finally reaches the room, where Eric and Hoffman are trapped along with Art Blank. Eric stands on a melting ice block and is held in position by a chain-noose around his neck, while Hoffman is strapped to an electric chair. Both are standing at the opposite ends of a large seesaw. If Eric jumps off the ice block or too much of it melts, the water will flow to Hoffman's side and cause the chair to electrocute him. Art Blank, who has one of Jigsaw's devices strapped to his back, is forced to oversee the game until the 90-minute-timer for Rigg's game expires. Afterwards, he can press a button and release all three of them. However, if the door of the room is opened before the time runs out, Eric's head will be crushed by two large ice blocks. As they see Rigg through the door's window, Eric frantically tells him not to open the door. To prevent him from entering, he shoots him with a gun given to him by Art earlier. Even though he is shot in the chest, Rigg breaks through the door nonetheless and witnesses Eric's death. Believing that Art is responsible for the game, he aims his own gun at him and shoots him in the head when Art reaches for his bag, believing that he is grabbing a weapon. The weapon, however, turns out to be a tape recorder with a final message for Rigg. The tape tells him that he had failed his test as it wasn't his task to save Eric but rather to let him save himself. Just as Rigg realizes his mistake, Hoffman frees himself from the electric chair and reveals himself to be Jigsaw's accomplice. He ends the game with the words "Game Over" and leaves the room, while Rigg lies on the floor and succumbs to his gunshot wound.
Only moments after Rigg, Strahm had also reached the building. During his search for Rigg, he discovers another room instead and opens it with the key given to him by Perez. Inside the room, he finds the corpses of Jigsaw and Amanda Young. At this point, it is revealed that Saw IV took place at the same time as Saw III, except for the opening scene at the morgue. As Strahm enters the room, Jeff Denlon, one of the third film's main protagonists, aims his gun at him and demands to know the whereabouts of his abducted daughter, Corbett. Strahm kills him in self defense, fulfilling Jigsaw's prediction of him killing an innocent man. Moments later, Hoffman reaches the room and locks him up inside along with the corpses of Jigsaw, Amanda, Jeff and the latter's wife, Dr. Lynn Denlon. In the final moments of the film, the scene shifts to John Kramer's autopsy once more, where Hoffman listens to the tape found in his stomach.
- Tobin Bell as Jigsaw/John
- Costas Mandylor as Hoffman
- Scott Patterson as Agent Strahm
- Betsy Russell as Jill
- Lyriq Bent as Rigg
- Athena Karkanis as Agent Perez
- Justin Louis as Art
- Simon Reynolds as Lamanna
- Donnie Wahlberg as Eric Matthews
- Angus Macfadyen as Jeff
- Shawnee Smith as Amanda
- Bahar Soomekh as Lynn
- Dina Meyer as Kerry
- Mike Realba as Fisk
- Marty Adams as Ivan
- Sarain Boylan as Brenda
- Billy Otis as Cecil
- James Van Patten as Dr. Heffner
- David Boyce as Pathologist
- Kevin Rushton as Trevor
- Julian Richings as Vagrant
- Kelly Jones as SWAT Pete
- Ingrid Hart as Tracy
- Niamh Wilson as Corbett
- Janet Land as Morgan
- Ron Lea as Rex
- Joanne Boland as Crime Scene Photographer
- Zoe Heath as Lab Technician
- Bill Vibert as Young Cop
- Eric Gores as Matt
- Devon Bostick as Derek
- Tony Nappo as Gus
- Emmanuelle Vaugier as Addison
- Noam Jenkins as Michael
- Mike Butters as Paul
- J. Larose as Troy
- Oren Koules as The Man
- Alison Luther as Young Girl
- Kim Roberts as Nurse Deborah
- David Webster as Dr. Steve
- Sandra Manson as Nurse Patti
The script of Saw IV was written by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Thomas Fenton, making it the first film in the series which wasn't written by Leigh Whannell. Nonetheless, he served as the film's executive producer along with James Wan. Saw IV was also the last film in the series directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, despite his original plans to already stop his work on the series after the second film.
Like its predecessor, Saw IV was granted a budget of $10 million. The principal photography took place in Toronto from April 16, 2007 to May 3, 2007, while the post production began on May 19. As in Saw II and Saw III, many of the transitions from one place to another were not made using digital effects. Instead, the transitions were shot on the spot.
Saw IV was eventually released in Australia on October 25, 2007 and one day later, on October 26, 2007 in the United States and Canada. Like with Saw III, Darren Lynn Bousman and producer Mark Burg had problems to receive an "R" rating from the MPAA and had to alter the film. As the only other option was to release the film with an NC-17 rating, they cut the final version of the film and were able to obtain the "R" rating. Lionsgate also held the fourth annual "Give Til It Hurts" blood drive for the Red Cross, where nearly 38,000 pints of blood were collected.
On January 22, 2008, the Unrated Director's Cut, which contained a slightly altered ending as well as several extended torture scenes, was released in America and on March 3, 2008 in the UK on Blu-Ray and DVD. Additionally, an "Extreme Edition" was released exclusively in the UK, before the release of Saw V in October 2008.
Despite slightly lower box-office revenues than the third film, Saw IV was a financial success nonetheless. It earned $63,300,095 in the US and $134,528,909. Critics of the film were mostly negative. It received a rating of 17% from Rotten Tomatoes, based on 75 reviews, while Metacritic gave it a score of 36 out of 100, based on 16 critics. The general consensus was, that Saw IV was the weakest entry in the series at that time, with its plot being redundant, incoherent and illogical, while the excessive violence was criticized as well.
The soundtrack of Saw IV was once again composed by Charlie Clouser, who had already delivered the music for the previous installments of the series. It was released on October 23, 2007 by Artists' Addiction Records. The song "I.V." by X Japan, which plays during the credits, was not included on the soundtrack album.
2. Just Begun
4. SWAT Hall
8. It Says...
11. Hello, Rigg
12. Hair Puller (Version A)
14. Hair Puller (Version B)
15. Hello, Brenda
17. Hair Scene
18. SWAT Body
19. Jill Cold
20. Help Them
22. Room 261
23. Rigg Pig
26. One Step
27. Bed Ripper
30. She Stays
31. Step Back
32. It's Art
33. School Daze
36. Save Yourself
37. New Game
38. Hello, Perez
42. The Tool
43. Knife Face
44. Smash Clock
46. Better Hope
47. Let Go
1. Payroll (John O Mix) - Nitzer Ebb
2. Collapse - Saosin
3. Shame - Drowning Pool
4. Tomorrow - Sixx:A.M.
5. Misery Loves Its Company - The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
6. Eternal Rest - Avenged Sevenfold
7. Life Is Good - Ministry
8. Werewolf - Every Time I Die
9. Trapped - Soulidium
10. Better Think Again - Submersed
11. On The Offensive - From Autumn To Ashes
12. Spasmolytic (Deftones Remix-Habitual Mix) - Skinny Puppy
13. Beatcrusher - Dope Stars Inc.
14. Dead Is The New Alive (Manipulator Mix by Dope Stars Inc.) - Emilie Autumn
15. Do You Want to Play a Game - Oxygen
16. Crossing the Rubicon - The Human Abstract
17. Dread Prevailed - The Red Chord
18. Thrash is Back - Fueled By Fire
19. I Believe (In Blood) - Nachtmahr
- The nurse that helped Jill Tuck during her miscarriage is Deborah, the same nurse that talked to Lynn Denlon before she was kidnapped in Saw III. Many other characters from previous films reappeared in flashbacks in Saw IV including Paul Leahy, Donnie Greco, Michael Marks, Addison Corday, Gus Colyard and Troy.
- This is the only Saw film in which the bathroom does not appear in any shape or form.
- Originally, Saw IV was supposed to take place at the same time as the first film and would have included a scene of Peter Strahm finding and entering the bathroom, moments after Adam Stanheight had been left there to die. Adam would have attempted to shoot Strahm out of fear, causing Strahm to shoot and kill him in self defense.
- During a scene in Jill's clinic a character named Derek is seen in the background watching a fight between Cecil Adams and Gus Colyard. Derek is played by Devon Bostick who later returned to the series as Brent Abbott in Saw VI.
- This is the only film in the series, where producer Oren Koules is credited for his cameo appearance as Donnie Greco. However, the credits only list him as "The Man."