After six years and six movies, you’re either a fan of SAW or you aren’t. In the nine years that I’ve been running Bloody Disgusting my one major discovery was the first SAW film, and to this day I have always felt a personal connection to the franchise. Up until last year, I couldn’t believe four (rushed) films managed to keep true to the original and somehow take it one step further. SAW V hurt, it really, really hurt. While each and every “good” SAW movie felt like an accidental blessing, I never expected the fifth to be as bad as it was. It was so bad that it removed me from the franchise; I couldn’t have cared less if SAW VI was even made. Yet, comes another Halloween, another SAW… who is going to say “no thanks”? With expectations already at rock bottom, SAW VI opens in such a fury that within five minutes time I leaned over to Andrea (Mrs. Disgusting) and exclaimed, “This is already better than SAW V.”
Explaining the plot and going over the previous films is a nightmare, so we’ll keep this short. Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton returned once again to pen SAW VI and have done something they have never done before as they bring a real-world political situation into the fold. As you all know, Jigsaw was dying of brain cancer, and well, his insurance company didn’t see it in their best interest to help him find a cure. Let’s leave it at that. The movie focuses on William (Peter Outerbridge), a man who denied Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) the chance to live, thus, he must learn his mistakes through four rigorous challenges (traps) that will lead to his potential salvation.
There are a few key elements that brought SAW VI together into a solid package of blood-curdling goodness. First and foremost, I would like to congratulate director Kevin Greutert for having some f*cking balls. SAW V was shot in the laziest, safest way I have seen in nearly any movie (unless you count Hallmark specials). On the other hand, SAW VI blends elements from SAW, SAW II and SAW IV; you get some flash cutting, while there are also some beautiful establishing shots and even handheld work. Greutert was really paying attention and learned from Darren Bousman, who delivered the engaging pacing of SAW II, the mind-bending experience of SAW III and the flashy delicious gore of SAW IV – SAW VI has a taste of it all.
While Greutert was the man behind the camera, what he really did was bring justice to the screenplay by Dunstan and Melton, who proved to the horror Gods that they actually listen to the fans. The major problem with SAW V is that Jigsaw and Amanda were nearly non-existent, and even Hoffman’s (Costas Mandylor) character was extremely underdeveloped. In SAW VI, Jigsaw once again is the protagonist (or anti-hero if you will; in fact, you’re pretty much rooting for him from square one) and plays a major, major role in the unrolling plot. Even Shawnee Smith returns as Amanda and brings together a major twist you’ll have to see to believe. But more remarkable is the rise of Hoffman, who somehow goes from zero to hero in a measly hour-and-a-half. He has personality, depth and drive; and for the first time I saw him as an intricate part of the SAW world. In addition to the character development, Dunstan and Melton bring the viewer an engaging, suspenseful and coherent story that opens with a bang and leaves you screaming (pun intended) for more.
While the film has its share of issues (mostly in the acting department) and other technical flaws, in the end what it delivers is pure entertaining. What more can you ask for from a fifth sequel?
In the end, SAW VI is faithful to the franchise and the twist/finale are 100% satisfying. SAW fans WILL walk out of the theater with their fists in the air with the feeling that they’ve reclaimed their beloved franchise.