Posted by: Peter Hall
Directed by Kevin Greutert, 2009
Written by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton
I am not a consistent fan of the SAW series. I love that it is a franchise, I love that it has filled the Halloween event film void that went vacant for far too long, but as far as quality goes, part 3 was the last of the entries that I enjoyed. Part 4 had me likening the intertwining plots and bullshit twists to a Klein bottle, a hypothetical mathematical construct that works on paper, but cannot exist in the real world. And Part 5 found me writing the least professional review I’ve ever put my name on. And yet I am now forgiving of those two films, because SAW 6 isn’t only good, it’s good enough to make the mistakes learned on those two worth it.
It’s not just a matter of being pleasantly surprised by low expectations, either. Gone are the ludicrous plot devices, the endless retconing that kept re-writing the Jigsaw mythos, the need to build towards some hackneyed twist. What remains is a tightly wound story that keeps the Jigsaw tradition alive without the need to jump through holes in space and time just to keep Tobin Bell in the picture. Sure, the gore is still there and Jigsaw still does show up in flashbacks, but the script Dunstan and Melton have written is the most restrained, linear, goal-driven backbone the series has ever had. And though director Kevin Greutert, who has edited every single one of the prior SAW entries, has kept the staple spinning camera and boiler room lighting, his film also has more mature aspirations towards showing the ‘big picture’ of each trap, building tension by anticipation; as opposed to the last few films that were overflowing with surprises to the point of absurdity.
Basically, if you had written the series off, as I had, you’re going to be shocked at how solid of a film SAW 6 is. The script may be a little too topical for some, as this time around the story follows the journey of a man, William (Peter Outerbridge), who devised a formula for an insurance company to project possible earnings depending on an applicant’s probability to live long enough to pay them a tidy profit, rejecting coverage to those who don’t fit that bill. Jigsaw, who has spent 5 films explaining his twisted philosophy that life should never be taken for granted, has a bit of a problem with this, so he has arranged for William and his complacent staff to make the same kind of life-or-death decisions for each other that they make for complete strangers.