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John’s Horror Corner: Saw VI (2009), Jigsaw fights the insurance industry from the grave in this redeeming sequel!

September 27, 2017

MY CALL:  This was a redeeming sequel, making up for the writing, character and death scene shortcomings of parts IV-V.  We’ve returned to the standard expected by Saw fans and the plot expansion was tremendously satisfying.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Saw:  Well, after Saw (2004), Saw II (2005), Saw III (2006), Saw IV (2007) and Saw V (2008) there are sequels up to part VIII, Jigsaw (2017). Other torture porn for gory thrill-seekers would include Hostel I-II (2005, 2007; but not part III), Martyrs (2008; not the remake), The Human Centipede films (2009, 2011, 2015), the I Spit on Your Grave series (1978 original, 2010-2015), and even the Final Destination films (2000-2011; but skip part 4).

The “where are we now” SIDEBAR:  Remember back when we learned that Amanda (Shawnee Smith; The Blob, Saw I-III/VI, The Grudge 3) was Jigsaw’s (Tobin Bell; Boogeyman 2-3, Saw I-VII) apprentice since the beginning? Well, apparently, Hoffman (Costas Mandylor; Saw IV-VII, The Horde) was his other apprentice—perhaps unbeknownst to Amanda (who died in part III).  We left off (in part V) as Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson; Saw IV-VI) was being crushed to death with his blood oozing over Detective Hoffman’s escape chamber.

I must admit, after loving parts I-III, IV and V felt a bit lazy on the death trap scenes and writing (for me).  But thankfully part VI starts out strong with two victims racing (against each other) to cut off their “pound of flesh” to save their own life and watch the other die.  I really savored the frantic nature of it all.  And, as an added bonus, we see the sloppy gore that remains of Agent Strahm.  Deliciously messy!

Our victims in this redeeming sequel are all connected to an insurance company oozing with slimy scams to screw over ill policy holders.  There’s something oddly satisfying in that—seeing the insurance company get their grisly comeuppance.  Our star victim is William (Peter Outerbridge; Silent Hill: Revelation, Land of the Dead, Mission to Mars), an executive behind some shady dealings who must run an obstacle course of death spanning much painful sacrifice as he decides who among other victims live or die.  The flashbacks explaining his connection to Kramer are great, and bring a new level of justification to the “game” that befalls William.

Like parts IV-V, some of the death traps were unimpressive—but some were decent, and that was a nice rebound.  The breath-vice trap was meh, the barbed wire hangman trap was morally compelling but just meh as a death scene, likewise I was unimpressed by the mechanism itself but enjoyed the mean-spirited mass hysteria of the merry-go-round roulette scene, the boiler room steam maze was exciting, and the acid death is a gooey wonder!  We even have a surprise reappearance of the reverse bear trap jawbreaker (Amanda’s test; part I).

There’s a lot going on in this sequel, and it manages to follow all ties through to a satisfying end. I was actually surprised that the same writing team was behind this (which I enjoyed) and parts IV-V (which I didn’t).  I really cared about these characters (a lot), victims and villains alike—even though ones I didn’t like in part V.  So, yes, credit is due.  There are many surprises, many reveals.  Agent Perez (Athena Karkanis; Saw IV, The Barrens) is alive and Agent Erickson (Mark Rolston; Saw V, Aliens, RoboCop 2) finds clues implicating “a new killer” behind the Jigsaw murders!

We also continue to find new bold revelations that are tactfully reverse-engineered to befit the story of the entire franchise.  This sequel continues to enrich the franchise with Kramer’s complicated history with his wife Jill (Betsy Russell; Cheerleader Camp, Chain Letter, Saw III-VII) and the mysterious box she was willed in part V.  Contrary to how things appeared in part IV (as if Amanda perhaps didn’t know about Hoffman), we learn that Kramer, Hoffman and Amanda were all working together the whole time, making a lot more sense of how such elaborate measures were accomplished.

I must extend my appreciation to director Kevin Greutert (Saw VI-VII, Jackals).  Across the board, this was a reinvigorating installment to the franchise.  The writing, direction and deaths were all stepped back up to the standard expected by Saw fans and the plot expansion was tremendously satisfying.  I haven’t said this since parts I-III, but I can’t wait to see what happens in part VII!!!!!

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