Film scores

Soundtrack review: Saw IV (Charlie Clouser – 2008)

“Saw IV” was the beginning of the second trilogy from this surprise hit of a horror franchise. I am not ashamed to admit it might by my favorite horror franchise. Even if Jigsaw is dead, his legacy goes on. During his autopsy, a cassette tape is discovered in his stomach in which he warns that his gory games will continue. SWAT Lt. Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent) is forced to follow a blood-drenched trail of torture, dismemberment and death in order to find two missing colleagues. A pair of FBI profilers follow Riggs, suspecting he might be Jigsaw’s accomplice. Charlie Clouser was back to write the score and this is the only horror franchise to use the same composer for its duration; it gives the music of “Saw” a unique identity and character.

This also means there’s a wonderful familiarity in the music for me. from the barbed wire sound of the opening seconds, to the industrial echoes and the metallic sounds, everything is tied to this franchise. I also know the “Hello Zepp” theme will make an appearance and the anticipation adds to the excitement of listening to “Saw IV”. I recognize a light and almost normal sounding version of it in “Just begun”. This could be the theme all dressed up to be shown to people who don’t like horror.

If the precedent score “Saw III” was all about the emotion and intensity this one focuses on tension. The sound is more developed now and if for the first three scores the label of full horror could be argued, I feel it’s best deserved here. It makes the music colder and harder for me to connect with. I liked the intensity of the first three scores and the moments when the music just went spectacular and flashy and I can’t find that in the first few cues from this one. Only dark, deep tension, suspense done right but not my favorite kind of thing to listen to.

It’s not until the relentless and wild “Hair puller B” comes that I can finally say I’m enjoying this score. “Saw IV” lacks the heart and pulse of the previous three. A cue like “Cherish” could never have found a place on the other scores. Safe for very few moments “Saw IV” stays too quiet and muddy for my taste. I couldn’t find the emotion I was looking for and the explosions of energy that worked in the other scores. I did find a few moments to remember, but too few. Still the ending with the main theme salvages the impression. Can’t go wrong with that.

Cue rating: 72 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 7 / 60

Album excellence: 12%

Highlights:

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About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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