Saw VI (2009)

The Saw franchise is prolific if nothing else. This is the sixth Saw movie shunted out in what is undoubtedly the most popular series in the “horror-porn” genre. Saw VI is confused, didactic, slightly arrogant but definitely compelling. The death-traps are solid and reasonably inspired, but the pacing does drag when people are not screaming in agony as bits of them are being crushed, torn, ripped, sliced or drilled. It is essentially about watching the deserved being tortured and Saw VI has succeeded in providing this. It sadly provides little else.

For those who know the Saw franchise, this is much of the same. For those who don’t, this will be completely and utterly, epically confusing. The original antagonist is dead, his successors are dead, but the newest groupie of Jigsaw’s murder-trap legacy has emerged as psychotic cop Mark Hoffman (played with literally no charisma by Costas Mandylor). There’s a reporter sniffing around, a cop back from the dead, Jigsaw’s wife and many other sub-characters unnecessarily filling up the screen. For Saw die-hards, this is great, but for anyone fresh to the franchise it’s simply frustrating.

Apart from the muddled and clunky cop investigation that threatens to expose Hoffman and sink the film in boredom, Saw VI thankfully focuses on William Easton, the owner of a merciless medical insurance company that has a habit of turning desperate people away on minor clauses or loopholes, ultimately leading to their death. Peter Outerbridge is the one reason to watch this film – his portrayal of William Easton is excellent and compelling throughout, somehow sympathetic despite his corrupt moral integrity, and this depiction is believable enough to make the tasks he has to endure relatively harrowing. Yet despite his best efforts, Outerbridge is still stuck in a broken vehicle, sadly going nowhere different.

Essentially the Saw franchise has crawled up it’s own backside and is tangled in its intestines. Choked by its past, Saw VI has to explain the history of multiple characters to potentially new audience members, meaning a lot of flashbacks punctuate the framework, reducing the tension and fluidity that the first few Saws benefited from. Luckily the final third of the film leaps into some excellent pacing where William has to make some truly remarkable decisions based on his nefarious past. It is only then that this feels like a unique film and not just an additional episode to a rather grotesque soap opera.

Saw VI is brutal, unoriginal, occasionally dull and exceptionally patronizing. Thankfully one strong central lead and some inventive ideas keep this horror floating higher than perhaps it should. With Saw VII announced before Saw VI was even released, this certainly isn’t the last we’ve seen of Jigsaw’s sickening and confused self-righteous violence.

Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

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