The reports of torture porn's demise may have been greatly exaggerated, but this fourth entry in the mutilate-yourself-or-die series joins what may be the worst genre of the decade: the lamely ''sympathetic'' serial-killer backstory.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
Over the course of [its] sequels, the Saw franchise took a novel, if distasteful, idea and basically tortured it to death.
Jeannette Catsoulis - New York Times
Saw IV is no Saw III. Just as Saw III is no Saw II. But neither Lionsgate, the Saw distributor, nor the North American box office seems to care.
Wesley Morris - Boston Globe
This death trap may be rusty, but as long as it keeps generating fresh blood, it's unlikely to slam shut anytime soon.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
A film as edgy as a rubber knife.
Scott Schueller - Chicago Tribune
Even fans of good, old-fashioned, onscreen torture will find themselves rolling their eyes at the twists and turns in this impossibly convoluted story.
Adam Graham - Detroit News
Just as Jigsaw tests his victims, the franchise's own test will be whether such suspension can be maintained, or if matters lapse into a torture chamber of self-parody.
Robert Koehler - Variety
After two solid entries and an OK one, the franchise is getting long in the tooth: This one is Saw It Be-IV.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
It's somewhat better put together than Saw II or III, though there isn't a scare in it.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
An incomprehensible cacophony of screams, shock cuts, dour pseudo-philosophizing, heavy metal mutilation and low-rent TV-standard performances.
Geoff Pevere - Toronto Star
The original Saw was crafted with thought and precision. Saw IV is an orgy of blood.
Stephen Cole - Globe and Mail
Easily the worst and most pointless episode of the gore-saturated quadrology.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
The famously inventive torture sequences here seem depleted of imagination.
Frank Scheck - Hollywood Reporter
The first thing you see in Saw IV is Jigsaw's balls. A sign of things to come? Most definitely.
Ali Gray - TheShiznit.co.uk
Brent Simon - Shared Darkness
Joshua Rothkopf - Time Out
There's the obligatory twist at the end, which hardly makes up for the excruciating boredom viewers are forced to endure. But, hey, if you're paying for torture, expect to suffer.
Steve Newton - Georgia Straight
We now find ourselves in the downward slope of the Saw series as Saw IV stretches credibility to the breaking point.
Wesley Lovell - Oscar Guy
Wesley Lovell - Cinema Sight
Tom Meek - Boston Phoenix
Dean Essner - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Jigsaw is an interesting character with an interesting worldview and an interesting way of carrying out his will. It's too bad the movies themselves aren't worthy of him.
Rob Gonsalves - eFilmCritic.com
Dean Essner - Film Threat
This gruesomely efficient horror sequel shows noticeable wear and tear.
Tim Grierson - Screendaily
I do wish that these movies were well made, because I actually think the premises are quite clever, but unless a veteran who is more confident in his abilities takes over, we are left with what could have been...
Austin Kennedy - Sin Magazine
Poor Jigsaw. The architect of the most deadly traps ever 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 'Saw IV.'
Rossiter Drake - San Francisco Examiner
... any serious consideration of the killer's fascination with violence is superseded by the director's (and the returning viewers') own sadistic pleasures.
Felix Gonzalez Jr. - DVD Review
Joshua Rothkopf - Time Out New York
Outro tipico exemplar da serie: o final, como de habito, e ate engenhoso, mas a formula cada vez mais desgastada exige paciencia ate que cheguemos a ele.
Pablo Villaca - Cinema em Cena
Whereas the first Saw and the third met the right balance, the second film and now the fourth push things a little too far and end up being less effective as a result.
Kevin A. Ranson - MovieCrypt.com
Were it not for the saving grace of Tobin Bell's mere presence, there's little doubt that Saw IV would come off about as well as a typical straight-to-video horror sequel.
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
Torture, you may recall, used to be an unparsable, unpardonable sin. Now it's porn.
Marc Savlov - Austin Chronicle
Dean Essner - Screen International
Like many villains before him, John turns out to have been wronged rather randomly, an act of terrible violence that he absorbs into his worldview.
Cynthia Fuchs - Common Sense Media
Opens with the clinically graphic dissection of the deceased Jigsaw, who finally lives up to (dies down to?) his name by being separated into pieces...
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Might be the best since the first, but still a task to watch. A painful, meaningless task.
Bob Grimm - Reno News and Review
Previously, Jigsaw and the filmmakers played fair, but too much about this latest instalment seems simply arbitrary.
Kim Newman - Empire Magazine
Dean Essner - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Brian Marder - Hollywood.com
Like the movie's mysterious Jigsaw doppelganger, Saw IV is itself a poor substitute for the original (or even the first two sequels).
Scott Foundas - L.A. Weekly
The games, the traps, are still the thing and as long as Jigsaw's flunkies continue to build 'em, we will come.
David N. Butterworth - rec.arts.movies.reviews
There's more gore in store. Now here's "Saw IV."
Linda Cook - Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)
The puzzles in this movie and the infinite number of sequels which have already been queued behind it have been designed to tear the dead presidents from your wallet like a sobriety chip from the shaky palm of Lindsay Lohan.
Mark Ramsey - MovieJuice!
The law of diminishing returns is in full effect here.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
Stultifying in its pseudo-sensationalistic schlock, this numbingly and nightmarish narrative has no legitimate creepy conviction beyond flexing its meaningless, morose muscles
Frank Ochieng - World Voice News
Despite the clucking disapproval of the cinematic intelligentsia, the Saw films aren't successful by accident.
Brent Simon - FilmStew.com
Even by the not exactly high standards of the Saw movies, this one's scraping the bottom of the entrails pail.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Perfunctory and confusing and needlessly over-plotty...but somewhat better-constructed and significantly less morally outrageous than at the very least Saw III.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
It's deeply unsettling; just like a horror movie should be.
Jamie Russell - BBC
The Syriana of slasher films, so complicated and circuitous that your only hope of understanding everything is to eat lots of fish the night before and then watch each of the previous films, in order, right before you enter the theater.
Peter Hartlaub - San Francisco Chronicle
Those of us who quickly tired of the grisly fun and games midway through Saw II will resent the unnecessarily convoluted plotting and storylines that require a master's degree in Saw studies to make any sense.
Ken Fox - TV Guide's Movie Guide
The absurdity reaches new highs in Saw IV, which asks us to swallow developments that simply aren't logistically possible, never mind realistic.
Ethan Alter - Film Journal International
If the gore quotient has been upped in this chapter (really, after a certain threshold has been reached, who can tell?), the style has, too.
Annlee Ellingson - Boxoffice Magazine
The series has essentially become a shell game, entertaining for a while if you can stomach the gore, and then the credits roll and you're pretty sure you've been cheated somehow.
Alex Markerson - E! Online
The dullest Saw in the shed.
John Monaghan - Detroit Free Press
Saw IV is a fluid film, as neatly constructed as the deadly puzzles Jigsaw creates to snare his victims.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
Fortunately, amid all the slavishly photographed grotesquery, there's comic relief. It's called the script.
Kevin Williamson - Jam! Movies
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.
Michael Ferraro - Film Threat
This is hard core Pain And Suffering territory... The film wastes no time getting down to nasty business, ripping, slicing, gouging, piercing, smashing and tearing every part of the human body
Urban Cinefile Critics - Urban Cinefile
Dean Essner - Bullz-Eye.com
A commercially savvy though ultimately empty combination of warped morality tale, mystery, gore-fest, and torture porn.
Nathan Rabin - AV Club
If it ever had a prime, the Saw franchise is well past it...a mess...and an ugly mess at that.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
as cheap and cheesy as its brethren, but oddly boring for long stretches
Jesse Hassenger - Filmcritic.com
Boasting more posthumous recordings than Tupac, Jigsaw should have spent time devising clever new traps instead of buying Radio Shack's entire inventory of tape recorders.
Matt Pais - Metromix.com
"Saw IV" should be tossed into the business end of 1988's "Woodchipper Massacre."
Christopher Smith - Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Easily the worst entry in the series, and the first one that undeniably feels like a sloppily thrown-together rush job.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
Two of the more degrading and debasing hours of big-screen "entertainment" that you are likely to endure in this lifetime.
Peter Sobczynski - eFilmCritic.com
If the original Saw was the kernel of a potential terror universe, Saw IV is, by this time, a series of satellites and lesser celestial bodies bound together by some of the best bloodletting in modern macabre.
Bill Gibron - PopMatters
An excessively convoluted rehash of its predecessors.
Nick Schager - Slant Magazine
The appeal, I suppose, is that some really awful stuff is unfolding up there on the screen and not to us.
Larry Ratliff - San Antonio Express-News
By far the best installment of this cringingly moronic odyssey of pain. There's something to be said about leaving a theater with only a mild cultural headache instead of a knee-buckling case of cinematic depression.
Brian Orndorf - eFilmCritic.com
It's a been-there, done-that sort of sequel, but it's still more creative than most of what passes for Hollywood horror these days.
Scott Weinberg - FEARnet
Saw IV almost makes you believe there are hundreds of rooms out there at this very minute with puppets, tricycles, and audio tapes just waiting for the next game.
Brian Tallerico - UGO
Mike Barnard - Future Movies UK
I can think of five things that are more torturous than what the victims endure in Saw IV...
Josh Larsen - Sun Publications (Chicago, IL)
As far as fourth installments in a series, Saw IV is quite impressive.
Kevin Carr - Film School Rejects
It is impossible to take a movie seriously when the movie obviously doesn't care if you do or not.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
...parts of it are good, and the rest really feels like cynical photocopying.
Luke Y. Thompson - LYTRules.com
The need to incorporate familiar characters and icons from the earlier films, together with flashbacks that flesh out Jigsaw's pre-'puppet master' past, simply leads to an irritating series of creative dead ends. Truly, a hack-Saw.
Nigel Floyd - Time Out
Dave White - Movies.com
With Saw IV, the pieces have all come together and [it's] the best of the lot.
Staci Layne Wilson - Horror.com