The nadir of a franchise

Katie Anderson 29 October 2009

Katie Anderson willingly undergoes horrible torture and watches Saw VI

Saw VI – 1hr 31mins, 18

1/5

Before going to see Saw VI I felt like I’d rather be caught in one of Jigsaw’s traps than see another instalment of the beleaguered franchise. I was right. Saw VI delivers almost continuous, gruesome violence with a certain childish glee – in short, everything you’ve come to expect from this household name.

The basic plot actually provides a decent foundation for action and pulls together a good twist at the end, even if it does involve a strong sense of deja vu. John Kramer’s (aka Jigsaw) final warped attempt at rectifying the mistakes of modern morality is left for his apprentice, Dan Erickson, to carry out.The trap is set for healthcare insurance executive William Easton, who routinely rejects or discontinues two thirds of applications for cover at ‘Umbrella Health’, granting him godlike powers over who lives and who dies.

In a series of ‘games’, he is forced to witness firsthand the devastating impact the decisions he makes on a daily basis have on people’s lives. The tensions involved in such two-faced morality are an interesting premise, but the tape here feels replayed rather than remixed.The original Saw dealt with the same ideas but without the arbitrary substitution of gore for suspense.

The opener of a woman hacking off her own arm pretty much sets the tone for the rest of film. In fact, to remain for the full length felt like a constant betrayal of basic survival instincts. Flight over fight wins every time when bodies that have been crushed to a beanbag of bones and blood are the order of the day.

Compared to films of the genre Saw VI fails to provide either the comic diversion that made Eli Roth’s Hostel bearable, or the genuine scares of The Ring. Nevertheless, it retains some credibility. Considering the quality of the rest of the film, the passable acting counts as a pleasant surprise.

This is as much of a positive comment as I can bear to make and even that makes me feel like I’ve just been canvassing for the BNP. The fact that the main character, William, has roughly an hour of screen time and yet inspires about as much emotional attachment as the silent, fat janitor is, quite frankly, embarrassing.

His character is a one-dimensional joke that begins and ends with him being a big shot in the insurance world.Kramer’s wife does a better job with the stilted script but even an army of her evil looks cannot save this casualty of the horror genre.

Despite presenting the most unfailingly repulsive picture since, well, Saw V, its attempts at social awareness don’t fall entirely flat.The targeting of the insurance executive is one long nod to the current debate about overhauling the healthcare system in the United States.To be fair, this doesn’t feel forced and adds some level of interest to what would otherwise be an absolute mess of a movie.

The fact that the serial killer propelling the Saw franchise has now been dead for two films and they have managed to scrape together enough material to see through these hours is a small miracle in itself. With two future instalments planned, I can only wonder at how much more the medium of flashback can bear on its slim shoulders.

Saw VI is a disgusting, stomach-churning mess whose only redeeming features can be found in the far better executed original.Those who came for a gore show will not be disappointed. For everyone else, it is almost definitely the worst thing you’ll see this year. Save yourself the inevitable feelings of sickness and revulsion and stay well clear.

Saw VI is now showing at Vue Cinemas

Katie Anderson