SAW VI Image


By Stina Chyn | October 26, 2009

Watching fictional characters engage in self-mutilation satisfies morbidly curious, voyeuristic tastes. If the desire to observe such spectacle outweighs any concern for mediocre dialogue, storytelling, or editing style, then the “Saw” films collectively meet expectations. Though the same cannot be said of each film in the series, “Saw VI” (this one helmed by Kevin Greutert) is visually and narratively solid.

“Saw VI” consists of two main storylines, one focused on William (Peter Outerbridge) and the other on Jigsaw’s (Tobin Bell) accomplices Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) and Jigsaw’s wife Jill (Betsy Russell). William is among the top brass at a health insurance company. His day-to-day responsibilities involve deciding which clients would and would not be approved for healthcare coverage for special treatment based on a formula. No matter the severity of illness or efficacy of medical regimen – an application would have to be declined if the math doesn’t compute favorably.

William’s four trials force him to appreciate the consequences of his actions. In order to survive, he must do as he is told — at the expense of someone else’s life. The twist is that he must be able to terminate the life of someone he knows. In his first test, for example, he is up against the janitor (Gerry Mendicino) from his floor. Whoever holds his breath longer will not get crushed by two iron waist braces. For every test he passes, he is led to a key that will unlock an explosive device shackled to each of his limbs.

Perhaps I ought to root for William and hope that he learns his lesson (or can at least exercise the same cold, discipline to his colleagues as he does policy holders), and yet I do not. As William makes his way through the obstacle course, the film delves farther into Jigsaw’s motivations and elaborately orchestrated plan. The tension between Detective Hoffman and Jill, created and sustained predominantly through flashbacks, culminates in a sequence that yields much viewer pleasure.

“Saw VI” conveys a much louder political message and the implementation of violence reflects as much. The film declares so in the first scene: two bank loan officers trapped in “Saw”-land. Their crime? Greenlighting loans for people who would have no realistic means of repaying the money they borrowed. Diving straight into the gore, the film has the overweight, male loan officer cutting off slabs of flesh from his mid-section and the toned, female loan officer hacking off her own left forearm in order to avoid death by temple-drilling-screws-helmet-contraption. She lives but hasn’t gained any wisdom from her ordeal. Put this bit and the ending together, and who doesn’t smell a seventh “Saw” film?

It’s just that Saw that doesn’t end. Yes, it whirrs on and on, my friend. Some people started watching it not knowing what it was; and they’ll continue watching it forever just because it has made a lot of money. Yes, it earns on and on – no kidding. More people return to the series because they know what’s coming…. You get the idea.

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