A new game is about to begin…
Image Courtesy of IMPawards.com
Director: Kevin Greutert
Notable Cast: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor
The term “critic proof” is used to describe a movie that, no matter how bashed by critics, no matter if it’s even screened for critics, will come out unscathed at the box-office. For the most part, the horror genre seems to be the most critic proof of all genres and out to prove that once again, for a sixth consecutive year, is Jigsaw and the Saw series.
When the first Saw hit theatres back in 2004, it brought a fresh take on a tired genre. It had shock value that was actually quite shocking, twists that worked, a budget of about one million dollars, and an eventual worldwide gross of over $100 million. Since then, every October fans can be certain that another piece of the overall puzzle will be placed in the ongoing saga. Though in recent years it seems some stretching of the imagination was needed, and the feeling that the studio was milking this ‘ongoing plan’ Jigsaw had became clearer with each sequel. Enter Saw VI, where the foundation of the series is shaken up, and while still problematic in certain aspects, others help put it above the most recent entries in the series.
As per usual, the most recent entry into the Saw series picks up where the last left off, though one thing that’s always been somewhat of an issue in recent installments is the timeline. These traps are so elaborate now, taking up entire warehouses, and what even seems like sewer tunnel at times, that one would think it would take years to put these types of traps and plans together. But those aspects are never touched upon; the films are riddled with flashback sequences to fill in the story and show how the previous entries in the franchise intertwine. The timeline sometimes seems relatively short, and you’re left to wonder how so much gets done in such short periods of time by these killers.
Aside from that, the story of how this was all a master plan by Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw character continues. Once again, there are almost two movies going on at the same time, as the FBI is pushing closer to finding out who Jigsaw’s accomplice is in one, and another victim is chosen to play a game in the other. This is where Saw VI breaks off as a pretty solid effort, and a mess – however, a mess that may be able to be viewed as intentional.
The chosen victim is William (Peter Outerbridge), a man who runs a health insurance company that has a strict guideline by which they choose who they will cover and who they won’t. William has a team of six people who do nothing but find holes in the files of those applying for coverage, which allows his company to take the money of people while they’re healthy, and drop them when they actually do need the insurance. Through flashbacks we find out that Jigsaw was one of his clients – and obviously – he decided William needed to be taught a lesson.
The games that William is put through are actually quite nail-biting, and while gruesome, aren’t as in-your-face bloody as recent installments have been. This actually adds to the suspense of each game, best of which being the “wheel of death,” which is simple, yet quite effectively done.
In the FBI story, Jigsaw’s previously revealed-to-the-audience accomplice, FBI agent Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) continues to evade the police, and this time tries to pin the accomplice crown on Agent Strahm. Strahm can’t do much about this, as in Saw V he was killed by Hoffman (or according to the rules of Jigsaw, was killed by himself – and suicide by being crushed by two enclosing walls is certainly making its way up the chart as the way to do it these days). This would be the weaker story of the two, as the two FBI agents on the killer’s trail seem incredibly slow and can’t put together parts of the case that are right in front of them. It gets worse as they continue to reveal new clues that almost all point to the ever-growing suspicious looking Hoffman, yet continue to do nothing about it.
Hoffman on the other hand is losing his cool throughout. It’s as though by this fifth sequel, the writers wanted to test new waters, and realized even though the box office wouldn’t show it, that the routine had grown somewhat stale. Instead of a super-confident killer, who is always one step ahead of everyone, Hoffman shows weakness and seems to get sloppier as everything seemingly begins to unravel around him.
The film’s tagline reads “The Game Comes Full Circle,” though it seems odd that with so many people who need to be taught a lesson through Jigsaw’s ways remaining in the world, that Jigsaw would have an all out end-game. Maybe he chose to do so because he knew he’d be dead, and he realized his two apprentices were both to unstable to live up to his code and continue his work without him. One thing is clear though, with Saw VII having already been given the go-ahead, and Jigsaw’s end-game having been revealed, the series almost has to take an entirely different approach next year, and it’ll be interesting to see how they pull it off, and how audiences will react.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):