Saw 6

10/27/2009

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Starring: Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Costas Mandylor
Writers: Marcus Dunstan/Patrick Melton
Director: Kevin Greutert

Saw has become like The Simpsons: it doesn't feel right if there isn't a new installment every year. Since 2004, Lionsgate has been pumping these things out on cheap budgets and making a ton of money. And yes, they have been of very questionable quality, but you also need to factor this in: the first Saw, while a cool concept, had some of the most atrocious acting to ever be committed to celluloid. Anyone who tries to tell me Cary Elwes was passable will be immediately slapped. In the face. Hard.

I personally love the series though, because while it is really about what weird kills they can come up with next, the underlying story of Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and his apprentices and how everything interlocks with each other is absolutely fascinating and gives the series more depth than many horror franchises. Now we come to Saw 6, but before that some plot details need to be spoiled from the previous film so if you really care that much...skip this next part.

Jigsaw and his original apprentice Amanda (Shawnee Smith) were killed in Saw 3, and in Saw 4, Detective Hoffman (Mandylor) was revealed to be the third man in the group. Special Agent Strahm (played by some guy who'll be a staple at horror conventions) was onto Hoffman, but Hoffman managed to get the upper hand and at the end of Saw 5, Strahm was crushed to death.

Saw 6 immediately picks up after this, with Hoffman tampering with the evidence even more, making Strahm look like he was the killer overall. But there's also a new target: the Umbrella Health Insurance company, who denied Jigsaw pre-insanity the chance to undergo a gene therapy that could have potentially saved his life. At the helm of this company is William (Peter Outerbridge), who has devised the formula for either granting or denying health care to those in need. Naturally, this pisses off the Jigsaw clan and although he has died, Hoffman has set up the new test and the film follows William as he atones for his past sins.

That's not everything however. The film also follows Jill Tuck (Betsy Russell), Jigsaw's ex-wife who was given a mysterious box in Saw 5 in Jigsaw's will, as well as the FBI who are still investigating Strahm's alleged involvement in the Jigsaw murders...and they may be getting closer to the real culprit...

Anyway, enough half-spoiling everything and let's get down to the nitty gritty of the review. Saw 6 doesn't suck. In fact, it's actually pretty good. As opposed to before, when people were addicts or murderers, Saw 6 deals with the health care workers who routinely deny people medical care to save money. It's a lot like the Michael Moore doc Sicko, but with a bit more blood and a bit less fat. A social message in the Saw series only took six films, but it is actually pretty biting and deep for a one a year franchise.

The actors are what to be expected for a low budget film. Costas Mandylor takes some getting used to, but his mean streak is readily apparent and he plays maniac well. Tobin Bell is still the best of the bunch and even though his character's been dead for three movies, they throw flashbacks in to make sure some good acting occurs once and awhile. Ditto for Shawnee Smith, who makes her return, despite also being dead. Oh, and Eddie from Family Matters is in it too, so that's cool too. Apparently Jaleel White had better things to do, like cry.

The kills themselves aren't very imaginative, and are more like a game show than anything. Two of them involve one being able to do something quicker than the other or to outlast someone within a time limit, and a lot involve at least one death for every life spared. The thing is...it works in context because since William chooses on paper who lives and dies, it makes sense that he would do so in the game.

The twists and turns and intertwining of the films is also done well, and if you haven't seen the other five films, you'll be really confused. For us fans who still hang on though, it was pretty cool and continues to add dimensions to the story. It does run the risk of being hokey though.

Is Saw 6 a great movie? No. Is it a great horror movie? No. Is it a great Saw movie? Yes. A definite worthy addition to the Saw franchise, and I can't wait for the next one...in a year...when it's in 3-D.

Final Verdict:
B+

 


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