Saw IV marked the first time one of the films in the series would be written by someone other than Leigh Whannel, with Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan working on the screenplay. Darren Lynn Bousman did return to the director's chair, however.
Bringing in $139.4 million at the box office off of a budget of $10 million, it was yet another huge success for Lionsgate Films.
Here, we’ll be delving into the shocking storyline we saw take place on the big screen, including the reveal of a brand new Jigsaw Killer…
Where do we begin?
Breaking from tradition with its opening scene, Saw IV doesn’t start with a trap but instead kicks off with the autopsy of John Kramer (Tobin Bell), following his death at the hands of Jeff Denlon (Angus Macfadyen) at the end of the third movie.
The man working on the autopsy discovers a wax-covered mini cassette inside Kramer's stomach, which contains a message for Detective Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) telling him that he will now be tested, despite Jigsaw’s death.
Kramer says: “Are you there, Detective? If so, you are probably the last man standing. Now, perhaps you will succeed where the others have failed. You feel you now have control, don't you? You think you will walk away untested. I promise that my work will continue. That I have ensured. By hearing this tape, some will assume that this is over, but I am still among you. You think it's over just because I am dead? It's not over. The games have just begun.”
We are then taken to our first trap of the film, featuring two unwilling participants. One of them has his eyes sewn shut, whilst the other has their lips sewn together. With one unable to see and the other unable to speak, they’re incapable of communicating which would be essential for them both to survive.
Chained by their necks to a device which will draw them slowly closer together - but also eventually snap their necks with a winch if they don't escape - the man with his eyes sewn shut activates the device in his panic. He then attacks the other ‘player’, but it is the one with his mouth sewn shut who is able to get the upper-hand in self defence.
Grabbing a key from the neck of the other person being tested, he is able to unlock the chains around his neck and screams, ripping his mouth open as blood pours. We later find out that this is Kramer’s business partner Art Blank (Justin Louis), but we’re getting ahead of ourselves…
We then see a SWAT Team led by Detective Hoffman along with Officer Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent) enter the underground area in which Detective Allison Kerry (Dina Meyer) was killed by the now-deceased Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith).
There, they meet FBI special agents Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) and Lindsey Perez (Athena Karkanis), who reveal that they too had been working with Detective Kerry, as she had been their informant inside the police department.
The last information they had received from her was a key, along with a note that told them, “open the door and you will find me”. The agents deduce that not only was this not a trap set up by Kramer himself, due to the inescapable nature of it, but that for Detective Kerry to have been lifted in place, it must’ve taken somebody other than both him and Young to put her in place.
Another Jigsaw Killer’s work begins…
Back at Officer Rigg's home, we learn that he has slipped into depression and further struggles with his mental health, due to the disappearance of his colleague Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) six months earlier. Convinced Detective Matthews is still alive, he’s determined to find his friend and save him from whatever grisly fate awaits.
Later in the night however, Officer Rigg becomes the subject of his own game when he is attacked and subdued, before waking up to a tape that tells him that Detective Matthews is indeed still breathing, but he has just 90 minutes to save his life. Jigsaw tells him that the fates of both him and Detective Matthews are intertwined, but his obsession is the key to survival.
Moving into his living room, Detective Rigg finds a woman who we learn is a pimp, chained to a mechanical chair along with another tape, that instructs him to go against his instincts and leave her exactly where she is. Instead, he tries to save her, thus activating the device which slowly twists her hair way from her head, removing her scalp whilst he gets the numbers for her lock from the turning motors.
Though he does eventually help her escape, she grabs a knife from underneath the television and attacks him. Killing her in self defence, Detective Rigg finds another recorder which has the woman’s message on it, instructing her to kill Detective Rigg if he did release her from the bindings, as he would use the evidence of her crimes scattered around his apartment to send her to prison.
After leaving in pursuit of his second test, agents Strahm and Perez turn up at his apartment where they find the woman’s corpse, along with pictures of the victims involved in the detective’s game. One of them stands out to Strahm however; those of Kramer’s widow, Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell). She is called in for interrogation at the police station, where she maintains she had absolutely nothing to do with Kramer’s sick tests.
Detective Rigg’s game continues
Arriving at the Alexander Motel, Detective Rigg makes his way to one of the rooms where he finds yet another tape recorder. This time, he is told to abduct the landlord of the motel, who he discovers is a violent, serial rapist who has repeatedly evaded real justice.
Detective Rigg lures the man into the room, where he forces him to put on the straps which have been prearranged around the bed. His message tells him that he must gouge out both of his eyes with sharp blades, by pressing two buttons, but when he only manages to do one, each of his limbs is ripped from his body.
We see a flashback when Detective Rigg reaches his next location; an elementary school where he had formerly attacked a man who he suspected of physically abusing both his wife and young daughter.
In the present day, we see him find both that man and his wife impaled together, by a number of different sharp implements. Another flashback shows us how the wife was told she must either wait to bleed out or, remove the iron spikes from her body so that she can get help.
The spikes had been placed meticulously so that they didn’t pierce any of her major arteries, meaning that she would be able to survive if she took them all out and got to a hospital fast enough. The same could not be said however, for her abusive husband.
When Detective Rigg arrives, one spike remains. He finds his next clue giving him the location of Detective Matthews along with a note that tells him to turn back and go home. Instead, he goes to his final test after setting off the fire alarm so that the surviving woman at the school can be found, hoping to save everybody…
Where is Detective Matthews?
Throughout the film, we get glimpses of Detective Matthews who has been chained up above a huge block of ice, which has gigantic heaters blaring onto it, so that it melts at speed. That’s not the only part of the device, however.
We also find out that Detective Hoffman has been captured, restrained in a chair which is being held up on a platform due to Detective Matthews’ weight on the ice. If he drops, the water will trickle down the platform and ignite a huge electrical blast, killing Detective Hoffman.
The two are joined by none other than Art Blank from the first trap of the film, who appears to be working as a Jigsaw apprentice but, whom we discover is actually facing one of his own tests at the behest of the killer.
Back at the school
When agents Strahm and Perez arrive at the school, they learn that Art Blank - who is a lawyer - has helped defend all of the people involved in Detective Rigg's game get away with their crimes. They also discover that he is the acting lawyer of Jill Tuck.
Exploring other rooms in the building, they find the infamous ventriloquist dummy along with a tape, which tells Perez that her partner will “take the life of an innocent man”, before she is warned that her “next move is critical”. Ignoring that warning, she leans in further towards the dummy, which explodes, injuring her face and neck with shrapnel. Before being taken to the hospital, she hands Agent Strahm the key that they had received from Detective Kerry.
After learning that Agent Perez has succumbed to her wounds and died, Agent Strahm is furious in his interrogation of Jill Tuck, who eventually breaks down and tells him all about her past with Kramer and, how the pair of them were expecting a baby, but she suffered a miscarriage.
Having worked at a clinic that aims to help addicts, Tuck was tricked into reopening after-hours for a frequent visitor, who shoved her aside and robbed the venue. Upon leaving, he slammed the door aside inadvertently squashing Tuck behind it, causing her to lose her baby.
Kramer was waiting for his wife outside the clinic at the time and sees the addict fleeing. We learn that at a later date, that very addict was likely Jigsaw’s very first test subject. He is told he must push his face through several knives to escape but, the chair underneath him collapses. Attacking Kramer, the birth of Jigsaw sees him simply step aside, so that the addict falls directly into a cage filled with barbed wire, where he dies.
Hearing this story and learning that their unborn child was going to be called Gideon, Agent Strahm realises that the meatpacking plant which Kramer once called a business, alongside none other than Blank, is likely the location of Detective Rigg’s final test.
The big finale…
At that abandoned plant, Detective Rigg arrives with a few minutes to spare. He reaches the room in which Blank, Detective Hoffman and Detective Matthews are trapped, unaware that Blank has a button that can release all three of them from their binds so long as the timer reaches zero without the door to the room being opened.
Detective Hoffman, who was earlier given a gun by Blank, spots Detective Rigg behind the door, shooting him to try and stop him from coming through. Unfortunately for everybody involved, he fails in his mission, with Detective Rigg bursting through the door and two large ice blocks both swinging downwards, squashing Detective Hoffman’s head between them.
Under the impression that Blank is responsible for the game, he shoots him when Blank goes to reach for his own tape, believing that he was grabbing a weapon to take Detective Rigg down. As Blank slowly dies on the floor, he presses play on the cassette.
The message tells Detective Rigg the error of his ways, but that's not the big twist. That's left for Detective Hoffman, who frees himself from his bindings and reveals himself to be Jigsaw's accomplice.
“Game over,” he tells Detective Rigg, before leaving the room and the officer to die due to his gunshot wound.
But, that’s not the end! Agent Strahm reaches the plant just moments later and, during his search, finds a room that opens thanks to the key given to him by Agent Perez. Inside, he finds the corpses of both Kramer and Young. It then dawns on the audience that the events of this film are running concurrently with those of Saw III, aside from the opening morgue scene.
Inside the room, Denlon aims a gun at Agent Strahm, demanding to know where his abducted daughter is. Unaware that the gun is out of bullets, Agent Strahm kills Denlon in self defence, fulfilling Jigsaw's prediction that he would murder an innocent man.
Detective Hoffman then appears, locking Agent Strahm inside the room with the dead bodies, before we’re taken back to the autopsy room once more, where his tape plays out before the credits roll.
Spiral: From the Book of Saw comes to cinemas across the UK on Monday, May 17th, 2021.
- Saw revisited: Looking back at the film that changed the horror genre forever
- Saw II revisited: The twists that shaped the future of the franchise
- Saw III revisited: A test within a test... within a test
- Saw IV revisited: A new Jigsaw Killer rises
- Saw V revisited: The walls are closing in
- Saw VI revisited: The beginning of the end
- Saw VII aka Saw 3D aka Saw: The Final Chapter revisited
- Jigsaw revisited: The Saw franchise is brought back from the dead
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