Saw VI
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Saw VI

Blu-ray

DVD

In the world of film the Holy Grail is to create a movie that can serve as the foundation to establish a franchise. While this can hold for almost any genre there are a few that are more dependent on franchising that others. At the top of that list is the horror film. Several horror franchises have soared beyond a dozen flicks and are still going strong. Series such as ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘The Nightmare on Elm Street’ are not only incredibly popular with the main stream horror community but have created their own fiercely loyal fan base that can be counted on to go and see the next film no matter what critical response it may have generated. One of the latest horror stories to achieve the lauded level of franchise it the ‘Saw’ flicks. This set of movie not only became one of the most popular horror flicks in many years but for better or worse it became the vanguard of a new wave of horror aptly referred to as torture horror films. This new direction has literally altered the face and direction of the genre creating a lot of controversy in some countries the films in this series have received the same rating as typically given to pornographic movies. The ‘Saw’ flicks have taken the genre to previously uncharted waters of overt violence and mindless gore; far more than anything that had been considered acceptable. There is a modicum of story for this film and even a couple of plot threads to provide a touch of continuity. I do admit that this film is not exactly what I look for in a film, even a horror film. I grew up in a simpler time when horror movies focused more on psychologically frightening the audience rather than cheap almost tawdry special effects that pander to a quick visceral scare by employing as much stage blood and phony entails as possible. The theatrical cuts are bad enough for the faint of heart but the true diehard fan of the franchise waits for the unrated DVD and now you can see the mayhem as realistically as possible with ‘Saw VI’ being released in high definition Blu-ray.

This film continues with many of the previously established cast and crew but does represents some changes. The writers, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan were winners on the cable based competition ‘Project Green light’. This earned them the backing for their own horror trilogy’ The Feast’ flick. They also have scripted for several of the ‘Saw’ films. They worked on what is being called the ‘second trilogy’ mostly concerned with the apprentices of the original psycho killer, Jigsaw (Tobin Bell). This actually works in favor with this kind of situation. It makes a clean distinction between the first and second segment of the franchised providing better than usual continuity especially appreciated when the main villain is killed off rather early in the series. It is admittedly a clever idea to break the overall franchise into a series of semi independent trilogies. This helps to consolidate the pervading theme of not fully appreciating the gift of life, what a person will do to preserve their lives and finally that all people are guilty of sin. As much as the extent of gratuitous gore doesn’t appeal to me personally I do have to admit that the premise and exploration of the above mentioned themes. Beneath all the split guts and flowing pools of blood there is a somewhat fascinating glimpse of the darkest of the side of human nature. It also fits in with why many people are so infatuated with stories about serial killers. They are among the most heinous criminals possible often defying understanding by any rational person. By reducing such terror to entertainment it somehow defuses the heinous, random aspects of such psychopathic behavior.

The director for this film, Kevin Greutert, has a rather interesting background. Most of his prior work experience has been in the editing department He participated in several of the other ‘Saw’ flick’ but also worked on a wide variety of movies including ‘Donnie Darko", ‘Inspector Gadget’ and ‘Repo! The Genetic Opera’. This does demonstrate a perchance for the bizarre and as an editor and an understanding of how to properly maintain a proper narrative. Some of the visual aspects of his style were under constraints imposed by fan expectations and the required elements of the franchise. The opening follows the format that began with the original; two people in a room facing a horrible death. In this case they have devices attached to their heads that will pull their jaws off if a scale set between them tips in the wrong direction. The heavy set man cuts fat and flesh off his own body to move the scales in his favor. The other person calls his move and ups the ante by removing her own arm ensuring the trap take the other victim. The actress in this scene, Tanedra Howard, won her role on a cable network reality/contest series. Veteran of these bizarre deaths, Lieutenant Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor is assigned to respond to the scene and discovers fingerprints belonging to Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson), the FBI agent following the Jigsaw murders. This initiates a chain of events that pulls a new group of people into the deadly legacy started by Jigsaw and continued by his apprentice Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith). In this installment an extremely topical subject is taken on; in often unfair health care system. This script is an improvement over the others, an effect achieved by infusing a generous dollop of sharp satire. Although this was not the same level of financial success as its predecessors it does manage to help re-invigorate the series.

Posted 01/14/2010

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