Monday, March 1, 2010

Saw VI: Six Times Not As Good

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Unfortunately, I already own Saw I-V, so I pretty much have to buy Saw VI now. At 1hr 30something minutes, it's the shortest one that I can remember, but I may not have noticed before. It picks up right where Saw V left off, which is to say, right in the middle of Crazy Murder Town. I don't want to give too much away in terms of plot, since none of these films are very old, but it's not quite as good as the others. Directed by little-known Kevin Greutert, he was an editor on several of the previous Saw films. He's also filming Saw VII as we speak, despite the tagline "Game Over" associated with the sixth installment. I'm honestly wondering how many more of these they're going to end up making...

Quick plot run-down: Jigsaw is a crazy mo-fo. He designs Rube Goldbergian deathtraps for "bad" people to sacrifice themselves out of; in essence, his victims "kill themselves" trying to escape their traps. Throughout the previous five films, various police detectives have tried to track him, as he constructs more and more elaborate traps and machines for his victims. They also attempt to show the audience some sort of "pattern" involved in the victims and the accomplices Jigsaw ends up roping together. Jigsaw (or John) was a cancer victim that decided to use his last days, somewhat considerable money, and criminally insane mind to show people the value of life by making them face their death (and prior sins) head on.

In this installment, Jigsaw's accomplices capture an Insurance Vice President that, through his decision to deny coverage, has been responsible for the deaths of several validly sick people (including Jigsaw). He forces him to go through four tests in order to save his loved ones; he ultimately ends up killing seven of his employees in the process, as part of the game. Meanwhile, the police are catching up to the accomplice(s), and John's widow receives a mysterious box from her husband with his final wishes as Jigsaw.

All in all, these movies are generally enjoyable for fans like me. I didn't like Hostel, but mostly because I found the European Sexcapades portion of the first half quite arbitrary and frankly boring. I just wanted all the gore and horror and violence! Saw never disappoints in that respect; the first "throwaway" trap (often used in these later films to show some quick victims that don't necessarily affect the overarching plot) features people required to remove "pounds of flesh" from themselves to prevent time-released bolts from screwing into the sides of their skulls. I know this doesn't sound entertaining, but for some reason, it kind of is.

I studied horror film somewhat in college, and have read many articles that liken horror to pornography. It's essentially designed to elicit an involuntary bodily response. In horror's case, that response is fear, terror, revulsion. The impulse to recoil, cry out, and hide your faces. For people like me (more or less casual sociopaths, people that watch eagerly as the guy cuts his love-handle off to put on a scale, or watch a woman hack her own arm off with a butcher knife), it's engaging and entertaining, we look up at the screen and enjoy. It's over the top, of course, and clearly not realistic in any possible fashion.

I wouldn't say I'm maladjusted, or desensitized to violence. I'm sure if a woman walked up to me on the street and cut her own freaking arm off, I would probably vomit all over myself in sheer pants-shitting terror. However, when I watch Saw VI, I'm constantly, acutely aware that this is a movie, and nothing more. At best there are some metaphors here somewhere, but it's unlikely. This film has no great love for good directing; Greutert's job is to point that camera at someone getting shot, or crushed to death, or injected with acid, or getting hot steam blown in their faces. He's not trying to create visual metaphors or some deeper meaning. He's trying to scare the hell out of anyone that he can.

If you like Saw, or have seen any of the other five, you may want to check it out. They really are trying to tell one big, long, crazy-ass story across all these movies. I'm curious as to how many there will be, and where it's really going. However, if you've never seen them, don't start here. Overall, they're all pretty terrible. But they're a special kind of terrible, known to every true horror fan out there.

I guess I could give it a cliché'd three severed fingers out of five, but I think I'd rather give it three terribly edited "frenetic" scenes of screaming faces out of five, or three pounds of human flesh self- removed out of five.

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