Ahhh, Halloween! That's right kids it's time for a new Halloween tradition, guessing how many supersize meat-lover's pizzas Costas Mandylor has consumed between the last Saw film and this one.
My guess, 20.
Kevin Greutert has been given a Herculean Labor via the fine folks at Lionsgate Pictures, to direct the sixth entry in the torture porn franchise, Saw. The Saw series has fallen quite hard into the rut of employing lower level production employees in much higher level positions as each film has gone into production, so the original writer/director of the original film is way long removed from the idiocy of the sequels, and the same can be said of the directors and writers of Saw 2, and 3, and 4 — Kevin Greutert was editor on Saw 3 and again on Saw 5, so he's no stranger to the numbered template he's asked to clumsily color in. Z-grade actors? Check. Annoying, seizure inducing lighting and pointless camera cuts? Check! Two second walk on cameos by stars of previous films? Check! Incomprehensible script?
No check there. Saw 6 can actually be followed by a relatively normal person who might have suffered through only one of the preceding 5 films, and that's the film's only real strong point. But hey, with crap like this you have to take what you can get. The script by Saw 4 and 5 alums Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton treads the same ground as the previous two films in which Jigsaw and Amanda are still dead and Detective Hoffman is running the same Jigsaw games while trying to avoid being tied to the crimes by the most inept and bafflingly unobservant police in film history.
Seriously, Frank Drebin and Nordberg of Police Squad would have had this plot wrapped up by the middle of Saw 5 — at the latest.
But here the central story is again whether or not Hoffman will throw the other cops off his scent, a possibility largely academic as Agent Strahm from Saw 5 is dead (squished) and Agent Perez (Athena Karkanis) has been brought out of hiding to assist Agent Erickson in piecing together how Agent Strahm managed to pull off all of these copycat crimes. Perez is a hiccup in Hoffman's plan as she was both his partner (until he thought she'd been killed in Saw 3) and Strahm's somewhere before the Saw series started. Also, because someone on the writing staff has been watching Forensic Files on Discovery Channel, the agents are doing stuff like comparing cut marks on some victims and digitally processing the Jigsaw tapes to see if it's really Strahm's voice buried under all that distortion.
This, of course, freaks out Agent Hoffman who has already set up another idio…wait… elaborate (yeah, that's not really the word I was looking for) game to run William (Peter Outerbridge) the executive of an insurance company through four challenges that will test his formulae for determining how to insure someone and whether or not to pay their claim should they get sick. The challenges all involve his ghoulish underlings at the insurance company including, and I am not making this up, Darius McCrary. Don't know that name? No? Sure you do. He was the guy who wasn't Urkel on the sitcom Family Matters.
Darius McCrary has exactly 1 minute of screen time here. Just enough, in fact, to ask, "hey, wasn't that Urkel? No wait, he's the other guy…"
Chasing Hoffman, Jill, and the rest of the Jigsaw story around is a reporter, Pamela Jenkins (Samantha Lemole) with a sort of wide eyed idiocy that made me want to punch myself in the face whenever she stumbled through her idiotic dialogue. She also has a purpose in the film beyond being the plot-point-gopher for Agent Hoffman and Jill, but you'll have to sit through this dreck to learn it. I can't do everything for you.
We get the usual Saw trademarks here too, gruesome imagery, the initial game which is dropped from the storyline immediately, where two predatory lenders have to slice off quantities of flesh to stay alive is nasty and almost completely pointless to the overall plot. However, it does set up that this script will deal with current events more so than any of the other films. Like I said before it's about insurance, and in the one scene that sums up the story, a flashback naturally, where John Kramer and William discuss how Umbrella insurance has denied his claim to participate in a brain cancer study that may prolong his life. There are tie ins to all sort of plot elements that have migrated from one Saw film to the next, the lost baby, who caused the miscarriage, what Jill's role in all of this crap is, etc… And all of this is sort of interesting, more so even, than the story about William and his quest to escape from the 4 games into which he's thrust. As a side note, the games are more ingenious than those of the victims of Saw 5. So, that's like worth, I don't know, a nickel?
It's hard to sympathize with Williams, we know he's a dick, and the people who work with him, by virtue of their employment, are dicks too. I am not sure if the movie wants me to enjoy watching him choose one employee over another as an analog for his day-job.
And the final thing we get is complete implausibility of any of this crap actually working. If, like the previous films, the timeline hasn't lied to us and we're only mere days from when Agent Strahm was squished by Agent Hoffman, then Hoffman has had to not only procure all of the real estate people in Saw 5, but also 14 people to set up William's game. How the hell can he possibly expect to do that? 14 people. That's a whole SHITLOAD of people. That's like more than a ton and a half of mass. And none of this takes into account the logistics of subduing each one, or where they are located. It's a safe bet that they don't all live in some dormitory even though 12 of them work together. And even if they did live in a dormitory, how the hell would pudgy Agent Hoffman get each of them out without alerting the others?
When would he have time to set up each of the elaborate Rube Goldbergian games too? That has to take more than a little thought and time and planning, and he's going to be able to do with the others cops breathing down his neck? As we've learned from the previous films Jigsaw doesn't generally leave any of his planning to chance, and that's the case here. They communicate either via hilariously contrived ghostly appearances where he and Amanda show up to talk over plot points with our main characters, or through letters, tapes, and other tokens squirreled away after his death. That leaves more than a few questions about how sick old John Kramer was able to compile all of the necessary information about William and the insurance team while he was running the cops (and others) through the first three films while battling terminal cancer.
But I guess none of that is important. Only 14.1 million bucks worth of people wasted 90 minutes on Saw 6 during the opening weekend, and less than half that this weekend. That's less than half of what a film costing all of 10 grand pulled in on its second week, ten times less than the weekend gross for the zombie Michael Jackson documentary, less even than Couples Retreat.
I watched Saw 6 in a theater completely empty save for me, Bil, and the movie.