Another Halloween, another Saw. It’s crazy to think that we haven’t gone a Halloween in six years without seeing Jigsaw torturing the unjust on the big screen. In the sixth installment the series gets political, pointing a finger at the health care system. Insurance companies aren’t always fair and the Saw franchise is indulging in a little payback of its own.
John/Jigsaw’s (Tobin Bell) latest game focuses on William (Peter Outerbridge), a bigwig at an insurance company and the man who personally declined John the coverage necessary to find a cure for his cancer. This isn’t a personal vendetta; John isn’t the only individual William denied the chance to live. William abides by a formula that takes into account a person’s health, age, history and everything under the sun except their will to live. Clearly this isn’t in step with Jigsaw’s ‘ethics,’ and William finds himself at the center of a series of death traps requiring him to decide whether someone else will survive or die. He can hide behind his desk when it comes to insurance, but in Jigsaw’s world, William must suffer the consequences of his actions and watch the denied perish.
John is still the man with the plan, but he isn’t the one putting the gears into motion. That job went to Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor). Carrying out John’s dying wishes is a big to-do, but Hoffman also has to keep an eye on the FBI agents who are getting dangerously close to uncovering his secret.
Saw VI contains plenty of references to the previous films that will go completely over the unfamiliar viewer's head, so their primary source of entertainment is William's situation, and damn is it suspenseful. Not only are the blood and guts flowing but the methods that unleash them will make you cringe. The brutality and gore shown in the Saw movies is nothing new when it comes to the bloodiest of horror films, but what makes the franchise stand out from the rest is the mind-boggling mental element. What would you do if you were in that situation? Saw isn’t not about catching the audience off guard, it’s about knowing what you have coming, which makes the circumstances far more terrifying.
Before discussing what will appeal to avid fans, you should know that while I’m very familiar with the Saw movies, in no sense do I consider myself a franchise expert. My knowledge of the details are vague and my devotion to the series merely lies in the fact that seeing a Saw film is a six-year Halloween tradition. No Saw movie can compare to the ingenuity of the first, so Saw-seeing has become more of a recreational activity than a meaningful movie-going experience. That being said, I’m pleasantly surprised with Saw VI. Without spoiling anything, you’ll be glad to know that Tobin Bell is back, as is Shawnee Smith, who has a major secret to reveal. This is particularly refreshing after Jigsaw’s near absence in the fifth film.
Saw VI is far from perfect and not nearly as good as the first film, but writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton really put together a tight script especially compared to their work in the fourth and fifth films. This will help reel in the fans led astray by the poor previous productions and permit new recruits to join in on the bloody fun. The flashbacks and other series-long elements are enough to satiate the devotees but don’t detract from the general pace of the film, allowing novices to get a satisfying horror fix as well. That being said, Saw VI will appeal to franchise fans and those with a thirst for mutilation and that’s it. If you don’t have a desire to see victims ripped limb-from-limb, cut in half and watch their insides spill out onto the floor, avoid Saw VI at all costs.