The Game Comes Full Circle (well at least six sevenths)
The biggest, most successful sequential horror franchise of the past 20 years roles on to entry number six. Sequential is an apt term indeed for the SAW franchise. The franchise bares a passing resemblance to slick, high budget, episodical US TV shows like CSI, except of course for the vivid violence and lovingly gratuitous scenes of torture. The SAW franchise’s episodical quality is certainly an aesthetic quality that distinguishes it from it’s 80s genre forefathers. Each entry (especially from Part 3 onwards) bares a similar aesthetic quality, you certainly know you’re watching a SAW film without having to see Jigsaw or a torture trap, unlike the likes of Friday the 13th or Halloween where sequential entries would have some vast narrative and aesthetic differences.
SAW VI continues Jigsaw’s grand elaborate scheme, now being carried out by Detective Hoffman (or is it?). Of course Jigsaw hasn’t been with us in the present tense for two movies now, certainly a brave and innovative move by the filmmakers, killing off your boogeyman. However just because he’s dead doesn’t mean the film is without him, Jigsaw exists in flashbacks, audio recordings, and in the traps he’s devised. I think this is where the series may be made or severed like a head in a reverse bear trap. Some may not enjoy Jigsaw’s actions being carried out across the franchise by up to (now) four people, others may view this as refreshening as we move along the timeline. Personally I like it, and I enjoy seeing the excellent Tobin Bell fleshing out the Jigsaw backstory via the flashbacks. However I also have one eye on the old adage that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth‘, in other words don’t water-down the killer’s actions too much with too many villains, otherwise we may have SAW XII where each town has its own Jigsaw franchisee.
Jigsaw aside, the main gimmick of any SAW movie is now the traps, and SAW VI certainly doesn’t disappoint there; the brutalist of all being the opening ‘pound of flesh’ trap which sickening simplicity makes it all too horrific. And then there’s the carrousel shotgun trap which is sadistically inventive and a real treat for genre fans. Previous loose ends are tied up as always, and new ones are left open for next time. This time you get to find out the Deal-or-no-Deal answer to what’s inside the box. Jigsaw’s wife has a larger present-time role and it’s strongly hinted that her on screen time is only going the increase next time. The ending is as heart pounding as ever and a twist is teased only for it to be re-twisted before the credits hit, which is kind of nice. As always don’t forget to wait until the credits are over for even more teasing. SAW VI is solid, the franchise as a whole benefits from good filmmakers, writers, and character actors, and SAW VI has all of these covered. SAW VII is going to be an interesting film because I’m not sure how much longer the current SAW format will survive without some kind of swerve to keep us all guessing.
The blu-ray presentation of SAW VI is fairly immaculate (although with all SAW films the contrast is overdone, but that’s a style choice rather than a technical error), and the franchise suits the HD format with it’s fetishising of injury and gore.., no bad thing there. The extras are limited, but you get the feeling that when SAW finally concludes we will be treated to an uber SAW box-set with all of the trimmings and retrospectives of the franchise which has succeeded where all others have failed since the 80s. There are two decent commentaries, one from the producers, and one one from the director Kevin Greutert. ‘The Traps of SAW VI‘ segment is a little thin on the ground and could have done with some eleboration for tech geeks. The best of the extras comes in the also too short ‘Jigsaw Revealed‘ segment where we get to spend some time in the company of the ever fascinating Tobin Bell who gives use more of his intriguing insights into the Jigsaw psyche. There’s also a look at the Universal Studios interactive SAW experience ‘Game Over‘ and the usual music videos, trailers, and BD Touch.
SAW 6 is released in the UK from Lionsgate on March 8th on DVD and Blu-ray. Visit www.saw6movie.co.uk for further info