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Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Shawnee Smith, Samantha Lemole

Director: Kevin Greutert

Writer(s): Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton

Cinematography: David A. Armstrong

Original Score: Charlie Clouser

Running Time: 90 Mins.

Given Saw VI comes with the tagline “the game comes full circle” you would be forgiven for expecting some kind of resolution to the drawn out escapades of Jigsaw and his random disciples that seem to/ grow by one in each film. However where you may hope the tagline will ring true giving the series a long overdue sense of closure, your gut feeling that yet another “story” (I use this word lightly) strand will be spun from the ever increasingly thin premise is more likely to be the unfortunate yet correct one.

Opening, as you would well expect given the strong sense of deja vu that the franchise now carries, with a trap where the trapped person/person(s) must do something horrific and give some sacrifice to save their own life, which then leads on predictably to a start point that picks up precisely where the last left off. Meaning we discover that Jigsaw’s latest accomplice/heir is continuing to set a plan in motion whereby yet another group of highly immoral people will be tested with much bloodshed and many lives gruesomely lost, or saved as was Jigsaw’s will.

So it is in this predictability that the Saw franchise finds is most prevalent flaw, acting as a checklist and falling into the monotony of the very best horror franchises (see A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday 13th), so there is the plan that drives the film, the Jigsaw of the moment (Jigsaw, Amanda, Hoffman or Jill) putting their plan into action, and the worst aspect of all as the films go on, the flashbacks that seem to be there to serve two purposes, firstly to enable the now iconic Tobin Bell to continue to appear and secondly to give the current plot some place in the back story of the past films.

This device has no become so hackneyed and managed to tie itself up in so many knots my love of the original is becoming tarnished very quickly, as most of that film’s plot has been so twisted to fit the needs of the never-ending sequels, this one included. Yes it is nice that rather than simple rehashes much like Halloween et al, that the film’s writers attempt to create a more complex mythology but this, as is proven time and again, isn’t neccessarily a good thing.

Since Jigsaw died in Saw 3, there have been successor’s dragged in and to a much wider degree with each installment. Amanda, followed by Hoffman followe by Jill to a larger extent this time, so more backstory begets more loose ends being created and more questions raised. Again Jigsaw himself appears in a handful of scenes setting up the main victim this time round but using Jigsaw in this way simply highlights how weak Hoffman is as a substitute, lacking the natural charisma or menace of Bell he is left to snarl and look worried…until the film’s close.

On the almost-plus side there is an attempt to introduce topical issues into the plot machinations with issues over healthcare and the financial crisis touched upon, but in the context of something this manufactured its hard not to be cynical and feel they have been used in the face of any other ingenuity rather than in any clever way or attempt to comment on society, there has been little evidence of cleverness in this series since its initial entry and with the prospect on a 3D Saw VII one can only imagine that will mean plot is substituted for spectacle to a much larger degree, for better, or most certainly, worse.

VERDICT

When the best endorsement I can find for Saw VI is that it sets up the next to potentially have a good nasty villain, there really is something amiss, despte its attempts to incorporate some social issues it simply ends up tying itself in knots with yet more flashbacks, and the fond memories of the original get more and more lost…

grade-e+

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