Thursday, July 21, 2011

REVIEW: SAW VI (2009)

Hahahaha…oh, man, this was funny. I’m sorry; I really shouldn’t be trying to do this review without showing you some of the absolutely hilarious acting and scenes this movie has, but I’m afraid still pictures will have to suffice, because it’s all I’ve got handy. This is the sixth SAW movie, and it mostly fails at being scary, instead just hitting comedic and silly. Let’s dig into this carnival of camp and see what makes it so enjoyably over the top.

Director: Kevin Greutert
Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Peter Outerbridge

Our movie begins with a young woman waking up with a really out-dated dental contraption on her head:

It could also be some kind of headset to communicate with aliens...

OK, OK, it's not any of that stuff. It’s actually our favorite animatronics nightmare, the SAW doll. He tells the young woman that she and her companion, who both do good jobs giving people loans they can never pay back, that they have to cut off their flesh and put it on a scale, and whoever can get the heaviest flesh wins. A great contest for the whole family indeed. Let’s introduce the idea at the next elementary school field day!

Now, pardon my sick sense of humor, but aside from the fact that this is incredibly gory, I just find this whole scene hilarious. I think it’s for two reasons. One, this is just SO OVERDONE. Look, movie; in Se7en, all the guy had to do to get the lawyer to cut his flesh off was point a gun at his head. You’re doing it all wrong. You don’t steal old 1930s dental contraptions and mix them with crude bear traps. You don’t have to construct all these elaborate traps. A simple gun to the head is enough to make people do anything!

And I know nothing about that…nothing except what I’ve seen in movies. Stop looking at me like that.

Oh, and two, the acting is just silly. I’m going to introduce a little game that I like to call ‘silliest faces in a gory horror movie’! Here’s candidate #1:


How do you think the script for this scene went?

JIGSAW: All your life, you’ve blah blah blah…

OPENING KILL GIRL: AHHHHHHHH! *blood noises*

OPENING KILL GUY: GRRRRRRAARRRRG! *more blood noises*

Truly worthy of Shakespeare!

So, yeah, then we see our new Jigsaw Killer, Mark Hoffman, cleaning up a crime scene while a flashback from the last movie plays. He gets called over to the crime scene we just saw, and gets a shock when he finds out that another character from the older movies, Perez, is still alive, and is now helping look for the guy they think is Jigsaw, who Hoffman framed. Meanwhile, an evil health insurance man named William Easton is busy having flashbacks to happy times when he used to deny terminally ill patients money just to be a giant jackass. Oh, the better days. He interacts with his whole firm which means you’ll get to see them all die eventually…oh, I’m sorry, was that a spoiler?

Then Jigsaw’s wife comes into the picture and it turns out that the big reveal IS…she has no personality aside from being in on the whole murder game plots. That’s it. Hurrah? Also, there’s a journalist character, who is portrayed as sneaky, over-confident and self serving, doing a lot of exploitation pieces about Jigsaw to make him look bad in the media after his death…yeah, because he would have looked so good otherwise; what with being a mastermind behind several gruesome murders and all, right?

"Ohoh, I have no other character traits but being a nosy, moral-less journalist! Muahahaha!" Yeah, it was a generic picture caption for one of my reviews, but it's about as much work as the writers put into this character, so you shut up, reader!

Either way, aren’t you tired of journalists in movies being portrayed as moral-less leeches who don’t have any qualms with digging in unpleasant places for stories? I am. Next paragraph!

So, yeah, not much to say about the rest of the movie, as it all kind of runs together. The parts with Tobin Bell playing Jigsaw are quite good actually, as he has a lot of charisma and still seems like an interesting character. Costas Mandylor as Hoffman is decent, too, although the writing for him is pretty phoned in, and doesn’t realize the full potential of the character. Mandylor does a decent job at playing the character, with some fits of subdued insanity, but eh, he still could have been better, because after all, who doesn’t expect amazing Oscar-level performances from a SAW film, right? The directing is riddled with all kinds of spastic cuts and quick edits that would probably give small children seizures. Pretty stock stuff for these films…

While I don’t want to get away from this very objective critiques of this very important movie, we do have a plot to continue slogging through, don’t we? Now we find all our characters moved into this abandoned building with tons of elaborate torture games set up. You know, I’m amazed. I’m amazed at the lengths these movies go to set up these traps. In a few movies it’ll be like, “Oh no! They’ve kidnapped the entire US Senate and forced them to do some horrifically gory act! And they got the entire Iranian military defense team too! They’re setting them up in that suspicious old abandoned building in the middle of nowhere that has a bunch of complex machinery being hauled in during the day!...why didn’t we notice this earlier again?”

So let’s take a rundown on the traps for the movie, i.e. the only reason anyone ever watched a SAW movie. First up we have a delightful game in which whoever breathes first gets their lungs crushed.

And you thought all those times you played 'who can hold their breath the longest' at the pool would be useless...

Then we see what happens when William the evil insurance man has to choose between an old sick woman employee with lots of family, and a young guy employee who has no family and “will disappear from the world without a trace,” because he has no family? How does one even do that? Does he really have NO ONE at all who cares about him? Did he kill them all? Oh, screw it; this is just making me more confused.

After that we get an intense game of Double Dare when this attorney has to make her way through a maze of hot pipes or else she’ll be…hot-piped to death. Man that sounded like a bad innuendo. She makes it to the end and finds out the key to the bomb strapped on her is actually inside William! What follows is a horrible reality show in the making:

When Survivor just doesn't cut it anymore.

While this is all going on, we have a sequence of scenes with what is APPARENTLY William’s family, locked in a room opposite the journalist from earlier. Both rooms have lots of deadly acid in them locked inside containers, along with switches that say ‘Live’ or ‘Die.’ But that doesn’t matter anyway. Let’s have a scene with a super-fun merry-go-round ride:

Yeah, I remember when I used to wake up tied to childrens' playground equipment all the time; fun days, those.

Yes, this is the movie’s big ace in the hole. Apparently he can stop this gun from shooting two of his assistants from work, but the other four will die. This leads to perhaps the most hilarious scene in any SAW movie when they all start trying to appeal to him not to kill them, like they’re vying for an extra bonus pay-raise at the job. I don’t mind the ones who plead saying they’re pregnant or have kids to look after, but it’s the ones who try and bring up stuff from work like “I did everything you said!” or “I made the most money for you!” It’s just really over the top, and it comes off as ridiculous rather than desperate with the actors they chose. Maybe if we knew these characters better, it would seem more serious, but I had to hold back laughter watching this scene.

And speaking of over the top, I think we have a new candidate for ‘silliest faces in a horror movie’!

Is he turning into a werewolf or something?

This guy is just a RIOT, man. When he gets picked to die, he goes on this huge rant about how much women suck and how much he hates William’s policy…because the hardest way to hit a man who’s been tortured all day is by telling him he’s crappy at his job. When he looks away, the kid goes berserk and screams “YOU LOOK AT ME WHEN YOU’RE KILLING ME!!!” Gee, I think this kid’s on the fast track to becoming the new Kiefer Sutherland. You know, if we ever need a replacement for him…

"YOU DON'T!!!"

So then William gets to the end of the maze, where it’s revealed that the family that we thought was his was actually the family of the last guy William denied a loan to. The mother is too wimpy to kill him for this, but the son goes ahead and kills him. The movie basically just brushes over this and doesn’t bother to try and give the scene any emotional weight at all – I mean I know it’s a SAW film and I shouldn’t expect much, but seriously, they could have a really gripping story here if they wanted to. It wouldn’t be too hard to incorporate some depth into the kid’s character as we see what effect killing a man has on him. But nope! We just get a scene of William getting burned to death by acid and having half his body fall off. Hooray for lazy writing!

There’s another subplot about Hoffman going nuts and killing everyone who finds out he’s the new Jigsaw Killer, and then getting killed himself by Jill. But that’s plot, and so, it is unimportant compared to the gore and traps. There. Am I a true SAW fan now?

This movie is silly. I don’t hate it like I’ve hated some other films I’ve reviewed, but it’s just so over the top and ineffectual at displaying any kind of real tension or drama that it becomes a big self-parody. It’s not as bad as some of the other SAW movies, but it’s not good either. And that’s my review for this movie. See you next time when I review SAW: The Final Chapter.

Man, that was a lot nicer than some of these review endings get…I hope I’m not losing my touch.