it's tough to take the Hockey Mask stage after john barber's last post, especially with such a mainstream and seemingly cliche film as SAW VI, but the newest installment of Jigsawian madness needs all the attention this site can afford.
i've said it several times before and i will say it here again: SAW VI is the best sequel in this franchise since SAW II. although i did not care much for SAW III, IV, or V, i am a huge fan of the first two SAW films.
SAW and SAW II walked a taut tightrope between the genres of horror and crime drama, offering enough bloody edged predator tactics to be somewhat scary, while also building enough cat-n-mouse tension to attract a large non-horror fanbase. the franchise marginalized itself within the opening five minutes of SAW III. (my wife, who admits to enjoying the first two SAWs, walked out of SAW III before jigsaw's voice perked up to define the first "game.")
although the SAW mythology has expanded with each film, the p
lot has stretched increasingly thinner with each sequel. yes, SAW III questions amanda's devotion to john kramer and shows us the death of major players in the jigsaw puzzle. yes, SAW IV gave us tons of back story on why john kramer became jigsaw. yes, SAW V deepens the characters of john and jill, while also advancing the depraved apprencticeship of mark hoffman. still, and regardless, these are not good films. they're barely worth the price of admission and stand only as descending stepping-stones in a modern day DIVINE COMEDY.
however, and just in time, the producers of SAW have given us a film worthy of its origin.
this one film successfully explored more background story and character development, while still offering the most meaningful life-and-death game traps, than any SAW sequel to date.
(the SAW theme song helped me write this review, so i hope it helps you read it.)
1.) BACKGROUND AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. in this SAW, we learn about the deception between amanda and mark hoffman, as well as the full history of amanda's involvement in john's creation of jigsaw. also, we see jill, john's wife, as a primary accomplice in the whole scheme, as opposed to her existing like a silent bystander in previous films.
mark hoffman's character soars in SAW VI as a primary principle. from his initiation into the SAW mythology to his freshly tested survival, mark hoffman reigns as a character to anticipate in subsequent films. and, yes, SAW VI ended on a note necessitating a SAW VII.
2.) PLOT. the primary game in SAW VI revolves around the CEO of an insurance company, a man who has developed a formula to rate the long-life probability of new insurance applicants. according to the CEO's formula, if the individual looks like a money maker, keep them. if they look like a cost to the company on any level, ditch them as rodents in the sewer. jigsaw, thereby, takes this man through a series of games that make the CEO fully responsible for choosing the life of one (or more) over another. removed from mathematics and comfortable desk chairs, the CEO finally comes face to face with the death of individuals, causing him to act in ways that may contradict his previous career philosophies, which brings us to the next theme in the SAW films.
3.) SAW "GAMES." the last three SAW films have felt like montages of vigilante justice. games are not fully concurrent with the sins of the player. traps are not always truly purgatorial as to absolve the player's specific sins.
in SAW VI, however, the traps do not match the victims in the traps as much as they match the player: the insurance CEO. a man who has determined the longstanding survival rates of policy applicants must now choose, within moments, the fate of co-workers. formulas for survival rates are erased as the player literally holds life and death in his hands. given the choice of deciding who lives and who dies, the CEO must lean on something more primitively human than anything he has worked with on a daily basis thus far.
for example, the scene on the merry-go-round (featured in the poster below) is the first SAW trap that actually felt frightening to me. most traps are so ridiculously far-fetched that i have never felt affected by their grotesque mechanisms. however, this merry-go-round trap messed me up. the merry-go-round holds six people, but only two can get off. the CEO has to choose which four die and which two live. that's all i'll say for now, except that i was all over my seat in this scene. this was one of the most disturbing scenes i have seen in a SAW film yet. and i still recoil at the thought of it.
i give SAW VI an overall 4 reverse bear traps to the jawbone out of 5. though not enough to top the first two films, it definitely succeeded the past three sequels by a long shot. see this in the theater. go somewhere dark, somewhere sinister, somewhere in total solitude. see this film alone on a tuesday night in an empty auditorium. nothing makes you feel closer to SAW than an empty auditorium, echoing with the synthesized energy of abduction, of entrapment, of playing for keeps.
"let the game begin."