Saw IV: Blu-ray Review
So is watching a horror film in high-def as good as being in the theater?
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January 22, 2008 by Marshal Rosenthal

Keeping a horror franchise alive is an interesting proposition - one where marketing and greed often circumvents both the logic and satisfying progression of the story once the sequels start coming in. In the case of Jigsaw, he may be dead but that doesn’t seem to stop a serial killer nowadays. Which means that the highly aggravated cast of characters who’ve returned from the previous three films are up to their necks (while they still have them) in insidious and painful plots that demonstrate why man is truly the ultimate killing machine.

What lets this film succeed comes from staying true to its roots while striving to be a bit “different” - which isn’t to say that blood and gore don’t fly about just as they did in the earlier incarnations.  And right from the start I can’t say the higher-resolution hurts one bit: there’s still that sense of urgency in the imaging when things get tense and demented traps start popping up. More to the point, HD lets you get more sucked into what is going on - because things like dark areas are no longer just black holes as they are in lesser resolution. And small bits of violence are stark reminders of a reality that could be just around the corner.

Now the days of the teen-inspired horror films seemed to take out audio as being important for anything other than amplifying screams. Here it returns to its roots for conveying mood and a sense of foreboding. No it’s not subtle, but the DTS-HD contributes to the overall ambiance by creating what feels like a more powerful soundfield.  And those with subwoofers working will gain an added boost to the excesses being displayed.

Extras, for when things calm down, consist of such things as a deleted scene, audio commentary, music video and factoids - but an addition is MoLog, an interactive movie blog requiring an Internet connection or Blu-ray Profile 2.0 (fortunately the Playstation 3 has Ethernet and got the profile via an update about 2 weeks ago). This lets you see commentary as film clips run and is a fun way to participate online with an active community (note: registration online is a requirement and the usual safeguards as regards to personal privacy must be kept in mind).

So is watching a horror film in high-def as good as being in the theater? Maybe it’s a bit less scary since the room isn’t pitch-black and you have a remote to stop the film if your stomach can’t handle the gore. But is it just as intense? Yeah it is.

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Disc Specs and Credits

Format reviewed: Blu-ray
Video: N/A
Disc Size: N/A
Aspect Ratio: 1080p, 1.78:1
Audio: DTS-HD
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Screenwriter:  Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan
Starring: Tobin Bell. Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Lyriq Bent. Athena Karkanis, Justin Louis, Simon Reynolds, Donnie Wahlberg, Angus Macfadyen, Shawnee Smith, Bahar Soomekh, Dina Meyer, Mike Realba, Marty Adams
Studio: Lions Gate Entertainment
Rating: Unrated
Retail: $39

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