For the past five years we’ve received a new “Saw” film every Halloween. At first, I welcomed these movies, especially with how much I loved the first two. Unfortunately, the “Saw” franchise thoroughly wore out its welcome about three films ago, and “Saw VI” doesn’t appear to be the game-changing installment it implied it would be.
To try to explain the plot of “Saw VI” would be an exercise in futility and probably give you a headache. Suffice it to say, although Jigsaw (Bell) is dead, his evil machinations are still in play. Detective Hoffman (Mandylor) has taken up his legacy and is now carrying out his instructions. But like always, there’s a lesson to be learned and this time, it could be anyone’s game.
What’s there to say about a cast whose sole purpose is to literally be nothing more than fodder for Jigsaw’s nefarious plans? It’s hard to really quantify someone’s acting when all they’re doing is hacking off their own body parts to stay alive. If judged solely on whether or not they make you feel as if the situation they’re in is real, the performances are solid. Aside from that, it’s all pretty pathetic. Mandylor is able to do nothing more with his character than make his lip curl and act as if he’s incredibly sinister. Bell remains as cryptic as ever as he tries to “help” those he sees not living life to its fullest. If anything, Bell has perfected the art of portraying a dying man.
What bothers me the most about the “Saw” franchise is Jigsaw’s sense of self-righteousness. He acts as if he’s doing God’s work and can’t see himself for the sadistic serial killer that he is. What made Jigsaw such a unique madman is that he always found ways for his captives to kill themselves, and while that still holds true, that initial ingenious spark died a long time ago. What we’re left with is nothing more than a ridiculous shell of a man who, even after death, still feels his actions are not only justified, but necessary. The audience was supposed to be on Jigsaw’s side, sharing his indignation. I don’t know if Jigsaw could now ever be viewed as a somewhat sympathetic character.
Of course, there’s the blood and guts, and “Saw VI” actually has plenty of it. Although it’s not justification enough to see this movie, the gore is actually done well and there’s more than enough for everyone. I think I can go as far as saying that this installment is more than likely the goriest film in the franchise. If that’s all you’re looking for in a “Saw” film, then this is the one you’ll want to see.
In addition to the blood and guts, there’s also the traps that can capture the darkest corners of our imagination. I’d be remiss to overlook one of the better aspects of the “Saw” films. Yes, the traps are still relatively decent this time around, and with more players than ever nearly everyone has a game that Jigsaw is testing them with.
With a new director on nearly each film, one would think that the visual look of “Saw” would at least change a bit from film to film. But no, “Saw VI” looks exactly the same as the other ones and that MTV style of editing and cinematography is still plentiful.
If you liked all the other “Saw” movies, you’ll probably like this one, as well. It’s unfortunate, though, that a franchise that held such promise in its first two films could devolve into such mindless, unappealing and unmitigated trash such as this. End the madness and don’t go.