SAW 6 Review. [Way to Save the Series]

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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.

THE COLLECTOR, Review – American Horror Worth Championing.

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Directed by Marcus Dunstan, 2009
Written by Marcus Dunstan & Patrick Melton

If we’re going on track records alone, I’m not the kind of person who should be cheerleading THE COLLECTOR.  I’m rather indifferent to the first FEAST, but don’t care for the sequels.  I stopped being interested in the SAW franchise after part two, which admittedly is before Dunstan and Melton took over subsequent sequels, leaving that less to do with them and more to do with SAW, by act of inheritance, being a fluke worm that behaves the same no matter how many parts you cut up into.  Yet it is still impossible to overlook the fact that Dunstan and Melton wrote parts 4 through 7, so the idea of another similarly themed Dunstan/Melton torture team up initially seems capable of being little more than an untrademarked SAW sequel.

It isn’t.  THE COLLECTOR may be a lot of things and may feature a house full of traps, but a SAW franchisee it ain’t.  Not by a long shot.   Dunstan’s directorial debut is a response to needs I’m so accustomed to being disappointed by that I think I’d subconsciously given up hope on finding a film that packages them all together.  Finally an American horror movie that is brutal without being a freak show.  An American horror movie that is a legitimate throw back to an era gone by without having to yuck it up.  An American horror movie that tortures people without devolving into torture porn.  An American horror movie made outside of a major studio umbrella that doesn’t give a shit how small its budget may be, that doesn’t have to shortcut tough logistics with insert shots and cutaways.

Yes, THE COLLECTOR is a good horror movie no matter what country it comes from, but that it’s an American horror movie made with a budget that might barely cover craft services on Platinum Dunes production is a great thing to me.

Bear Traps, Masks, Home Invasion: THE COLLECTOR Trailer.

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I didn’t realize a trend of calling Green Band trailers Red Band trailers would catch on this quickly, but here we have the first look at Marcus Dunstan’s directorial debut THE COLLECTOR.  The flick so far has been shrouded in mystery, but the trailer finally reveals the twist of a burglar who unknowingly breaks into a home whilst it is under siege by Jigsaw’s apprentice (though not really, since that last bit would be problematic with licensing and all).

I’m game for Dunstan keeping their SAW sequel tuned house of traps so long as they lose the SAW franchise trope of spinning the camera like a crack addict on a merry-go-round.  I don’t get that impression from the trailer, which looks like a promising time could be had, jagged bear trap packed rooms and all.

THE COLLECTOR opens on July 31st, with a Fantastic Fest/Horror Squad presentation of it on July 22nd in Austin with a Dunstan/Melton Q&A following the premiere.

Poster for THE COLLECTOR Looks Vaguely Familiar.

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