Saw VI (Unrated Director's Cut)
Why I watch the Saw movies, I almost couldn't tell you, but partially because I would have to explain why I watch the Leprechaun franchise, the Friday the 13th franchise, and the Hellraiser franchise (I draw the line at trying to watch too much of the Children of the Corn franchise, though I keep going back to it for some reason). Horror comes in bulk. Why? Maybe it is because Universal, the first popular horror distributor, set the bar with five or so Mummy movies and a half dozen Draculas. The Hammer, the British torch-bearer, repeated it with even more Draculas and a series of similar, but not the same, might-as-well-be-sequels. Horror has embraced the sequel in a way that few other genres dare. I say "sequels" loosely, because most of them veer off on tangents and restarts and retellings and retcons and just plain old marketing with new everything but the name. This is part of the draw of Saw (sorry that rhymed): you could edit them all into one big movie and they play out as a continuous look into a couple of weeks of hell. Little clues from one of them will show up in a big way a few movies down the road. At least they have that going for them.
Seeing as how unlikely it is that anyone I know and who regularly reads this blog has seen all of them up until now, I am in a unique position here. I can either spoil everything because no one cares or have to tread lightly because no one would know what I am talking about. Ah, um. Ok, let's go half-and-half. In the original trilogy, we are introduced to Jigsaw, a demented serial killer who kills his victims by forcing them to participate in various games. The games have such rules as "Cut the key out of your thigh before the needles gouge out your eyes". While one of the motifs of the series is that "You can survive these games and learn to appreciate life," every "episode" has several games where someone has to die, or the chance of victory is far too remote. Anyhow, at the end of the third movie, Jigsaw is finally killed. The fourth one picks up where it left off and shows that the games are going to continue, thanks to Jigsaw's various accomplices. I won't spoil who is who, just. At the end of the fifth one, stuff happens. It sort of wraps up the series to the point. I don't remember Saw IV or Saw V all that much because they were pretty bland. They were just cash cows to bring in money for the studio and gave only the slightest bit into the background.
Which brings us to this one. Saw VI shows that Jigsaw's most dangerous apprentice is putting together even more complex games, and that there is another player in the field. At the core of it is an insurance man, head of his own company or close to it. He wakes up with explosives attached to his hands and his legs and he has to perform several tasks. All of them involve a "who lives?" aspect. Does he let someone else die so that he can live? Does he choose the first person or the second person to live. Which, really, is a good touch. It rounds some of the violence, give it more of a context besides random suffering. It is still quasi-random, but that quasi- is all the difference.
Gore fans will probably delight in the bookends, the climactic trap involving acid and how it is resolved and the opening trap: two bankers must carve flesh from their own body. The one with the most missing pieces at the end gets to live. The rest of the effects are more in the spurting here or there category. By the way, did you notice the fact that the first victims are bankers and the main victim is an insurance man? That's right, this movie is chock full of references to the bail-out and the public health care debate. In fact, while it is the most balanced Saw since the original trilogy, by a notch, it is also the preachiest yet. John Kramer (Jigsaw) goes on and on about "Only after facing death can you know life," and, as a twist, it turns out that insurance companies are the cause of his demise and the final straw in eroding his faith in his fellow man. To watch this movie is to get preached out, is all I am saying.
Acting, pretty good. Believability? I am not feeling it. All of them are like this, I know, but somehow the idea that someone will always step to the right spot is getting tiresome. One slip, maybe? He grabs the handle but then slips and let's go, rather than holding the whole thing balanced. She steps to the right instead of the left, and is fine. Something to give a little water to the think cream that has Jigsaw predicting movements even after his own death. The mood: decent. The banker scene gets it going and the color palette is well done. The music: I enjoyed it, sort of Lustmordish.
Overall, right down the middle. The movie was Fair and that is all I can say. Fails in places, succeeds in places. I would rather this be the swan song rather than, as it is, the opening to a potentially new chapter. I didn't get my wish. Rent it from a Redbox or through your Netflix queue though, unless you have the others in hand. If you are curious for a Saw watch through, I would say do the first three and then this one and try and catch up. It will save you a couple of hours. As a final aside, special features are not super supreme. The collector's edition comes with a copy of the first movie (as a second disk), a couple of commentaries, and some not all that inspiring making-ofs. Then you get four music videos, only one of which was any fun to me. I'll let you guess which one.
Si Vales, Valeo
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