February 6, 2010

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Saw VI is here to remind us that Lionsgate doesn’t have any problem pumping $10-20 million into a half-baked horror film if it means that they’ll take the top spot at the box office on Halloween weekend.  It’s hard to believe this series has sustained itself for 6 films, but here we are.  So, did director Kevin Greutert put some life back in the Saw series, or is this just the cash-grab from Lionsgate that this critic suspected?  Find out after the jump, my precious snowflakes.

Saw VI Saw 6 movie poster (1).jpgThere’s been a bunch of commotion coming from director Kevin Greutert lately over his continued direction of the Saw franchise.  Just last week, the dude wrote a couple scathing notes on his website about being contractually obligated to direct the next film– Saw 7, set to arrive in 3D this Halloween– instead of the film he actually wanted to direct, Paranormal Activity 2.  Having seen Saw 6, a director badmouthing the studio that’s been happily giving him work for the past few years makes perfect sense: Dude clearly doesn’t have a dog left in the Saw fight.

Saw 6 comes to us as a pale imitation of the film that originally kick-started this series.  Remember back when Saw was about a couple dudes in a room, the mystery surrounding their backstory, and the tension inherent in their attempt at escape?  Well, with each new Saw film, whoever’s writing these things has had to go out of their way to tie a new story into the old mythology, complicating the timeline of the Saw films in ways that many viewers either A) won’t give a shit about, B) won’t be interested enough to make sense of, or C) will have trouble understanding.

Look, I’m a reasonably intelligent guy.  I’ve seen all the Saw movies.  But these things stopped making sense after the second one (and I’m giving the Saw 2 what may be more credit than it deserves; could be that I’m misremembering whether or not that one was any good). Because the makers of the Saw series have insisted on keeping one overall storyline going (rather than, say, rebooting the whole thing with a new “Jigsaw” in some other city and just starting from scratch), they’ve been forced to retcon the entire mythology into oblivion, leading things to make little sense at this point.

Saw fans will express outrage at such an idea, and tell me that if I’d just pay closer attention or looked up the storyline on Wikipedia I’d have it figured out.  But guess what?  I don’t want to have to do homework to keep track of who’s who in these ugly-ass movies.  And, speaking of which, the fact that the films are so ugly to look at (and I’m not talking about the gore; I’m talking color palette, actors, set design, etc) doesn’t exactly make the casual filmgoer want to spend an ample amount of time in this world, trying to understand the mythology of the films.

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Last time this whole series made any sense to me, the dude who’s actually Jigsaw was trying to teach people better living through torture.  That made sense.  Killing off Jigsaw was retarded, especially if Lionsgate knew they’d continue to make these films.  With Jigsaw’s death, the writers have had to bend over backwards for any future Saw installments to make any kind of goddamn sense.  Why not just let Jigsaw live and terrorize some new people with each film, rather than try and convince me that– prior to his death, mind you– he had time to set up all these traps for all these people whose lives he’s intimately familiar with and now he’s had not one, but two successors?  It’s preposterous, lame, and boring at this point.

If it’s relevant to you, Saw 6 continues the plot thread left off in Saw 5, with Costas Mandylor (that’s your leading man?) as the heir to the Jigsaw throne and attempting to stay undetected while carrying on Jigsaw’s work.  That’s what’s up with the plot.  But we all know the real reason to watch these flicks is the kills, and those aren’t even that interesting here.  I’ll confess to falling asleep while trying to force my way through Saw 6 for the first time, only to have to push myself to get through it on two subsequent occasions.  If the kills (or the plot, or the performances, or, or, or) were compelling or inventive in any way, this wouldn’t be happening.

Saw VI Saw 6 movie poster (3).jpgThe Saw films are now perilously close to self-parody.  The mythology is convoluted and uninteresting, the films are ugly to look at, and the villain– or the new villain, played with a raging disinterest by Mandylor– is just lame at this point.  It’s time to retire this franchise for good.  The Saw series is the perfect example of a studio sinking money year after year into a worn-down franchise rather than focusing their energies on some original, new, and interesting idea.  Unfortunately, this will never happen until people stop paying for the Saw films.

If you’re in total disagreement with me, then you’ll want to know what Saw 6 offers in the way of bonus features.  The copy I received for review had a second DVD containing the first Saw film, which only rubs your face in how bad the series has become.  The Saw 6 disc also contains a producer’s commentary, plus another one featuring the director and writer(s).  There’s a featurette on the Traps featured in the film, another featurette called “Jigsaw Revealed”, another called “A Killer Maze”, a handful of music videos, and other previews of Lionsgate films that are no doubt better than this one.  Really, do ya give a shit?

Look, by this time you’ve already determined whether or not these films are your bag.  If they are, I imagine that there’ll be plenty for you to enjoy in this installment.  If, like me, you find this series tired and bled-out (no pun intended), then you can feel safe avoiding this sixth installment, as it offers nothing new in the way of kills, plot, or visual aesthetic.  And, with the film’s director already establishing his disinterest in filming the next Saw, it’s likely that this trend will continue.

If you want to read more from comedian and humor writer Scott Wampler, head on over to his page over at, where he’s covering things that are far more intentionally funny.


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