MSRP: $16.99
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
•  Audio commentary with producer Mark Burg, exec producers Peter Block, Jason Constantine
•  Audio commentary with director Kevin Greutert, writers Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton
•  Jigsaw Revealed featurette
•  The Traps of Saw VI featurette
•  A Killer Maze: Making Saw: Game Over
•  Music videos
•  Copy of original Saw

The Pitch

The game comes full circle…

The Humans

Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Mark Rolston, Betsy Russell, Shawnee Smith, Peter Outerbridge, Athena Karkanis, Samantha Lemole.

The Nutshell

The games (and lo, the franchise) persist as Det. Hoffman (Mandylor) continues Jigsaw’s works with a new round of teaching important life lessons via death and mayhem.  This time out, Hoffman, who had Agent Strahm on his case in a big way in V, appears to be in the clear.  But he still has to reckon both with one last bit of Jigsaw’s legacy and even more law enforcement types who are picking up his scent.  Oh, and flashbacks, loads of flashbacks.

The CHUD intern to whom we initially gave this review didn’t quite make it…

The Lowdown

Saw / Saw II / Saw III / Saw IV / Saw V

A Saw DVD comes to CHUD, I’m the man.  I’m the guy who sifts through the various bloody dispatchings and sees if there’s a shadow of a worth to this yearly franchise that refuses to die, despite virtually everyone calling for it.   It’s almost as if it’s not a complete review year if I don’t get my annual Saw installment.  The last couple of years have been harder than previous ones because, well, let’s be honest, once the franchise lost Jigsaw, it’s become a retcon-o-rama, resting almost exclusively on the shoulders of Costas Mandylor’s Detective Hoffman.  Who?  That charisma vacuum that started as a minor role in one of the earlier films?  Yep, him.  And as Jigsaw went, so the franchise has gone.  So why do I do this to myself, year in and year out?  Damned if I know.  Maybe it’s because I want to keep my collection of free Saw DVDs up to date.  They’re in nifty packages after all.

The hot new item for the stoner / bondage enthusiast now in stores, just in time for Valentine’s Day…

Anyway, by now one would think that the
Saw franchise would be gasping for air like the poor slob pictured above.  And, well it is.  In fact, this is the lowest grossing of the series,  Which is ironic because this isn’t the worst film of the series (that would be V).  So VI was a minor upswing from the last two films.  Not a big one, but noticeable.  Why?  Perhaps it’s because, in a year where the most contentious battle for health care reform as been waged, Saw has gotten political of all things. 

A photographic memento from O.J.’s swine phase.

To put this tactic in perspective, it would be akin to something like a
maggot-encrusted Jason getting up out of his grave after Tommy did his
bonehead move of resurrecting him and cutting a bloody swath in
protest of Reagan’s trickle down economics, or the Strategic Defense
Initiative.  Or Freddy coming back in his sixth installment after
farting around with Alice for two films and somno-icing teens as a
political statement against the arms race.  Kind of an unusual way to
go.  But VI is slightly better than V because Hoffman’s arc
is finally playing itself out in a (very semi) semi-coherent fashion, without the
lingering questions that have been hanging over the Saw films since
Jigsaw went bye-bye.  Plus it’s going somewhere many of us would want to go ourselves: torturing and frappe-ing members of the health care insurance system. 

One of the more disturbing rides from the Neverland estate sale.

Now that’s not to say that VI is a good movie, because really, the franchise lost most of it’s originality about 3.5 installments ago.  Sans Tobin Bell, it’s been going on gore and one or two clever tweaks with the timeline and twist endings since IV.  Plus the central theme of the film, that this is Jigsaw’s most personal game is essentially wasted because Jigsaw himself isn’t alive to see it through.  And even his ex-wife, Jill Tuck, isn’t actively pursuing his agenda.  If she had taken up Jigsaw’s mantle rather than Hoffman, the films might have been able to keep their bite a bit longer.  Plus, the franchise has become strictly formula: Intro the game, people die, cops on the trail, buckets of blood, shloads of flashbacks, twist ending, roll credits

As it stands now, Hoffman is just another serial killer with access to better devices than the rank and file mass murderer.  Jigsaw’s forced redemption of ne’er-do-wells was the true mark of distinction of this entire franchise (well that and the romper rooms of death).  VI does still have one or two perverse little charms about it if you’re just in the mood for some good old fashioned gore.  For one thing, the body count is higher than any of the other films.  So at least it follows the old horror adage that if you can’t add anything new, then add more blood.  But considering that this is the lowest grossing of the series, I wouldn’t be surprised if VII is the last one before a two year break in which case by then franchise reboot intervals will probably be down to a few minutes and we start anew.

Not to say that Det. Hoffman was more sadistic than Jigsaw ever was, but having Stealth Fighter on continuous loop and just out of reach was simply wrong…

The Package

Despite how the films may be turning out lately, they are at least still giving pretty good effort to the DVD presentations.  The transfer of the films is usually nice and audio is good as ever.  There are two commentaries, one by the producers and another by director Kevin Greutert and writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton.  There’s an eight-minute featurette on the traps of Saw VI and Jigsaw Revealed, a six-minute spotlight on Jigsaw via an interview with Tobin Bell and other cast and crew.  There’s also a featurette on the making of Saw: Game Over, a haunted maze attraction at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights.  Four music videos from groups featured on the soundtrack round out the offerings.  See you next year for VII.

6.2 out of 10