There’s only a couple Saw films that I actually think are entertaining and worthwhile. This installation in the franchise, Saw VI, is one of them. This sixth film definitely has its flaws, but unlike most of the Saw sequels, it’s actually kind of interesting in certain ways and is a lot more thrilling than the others. This one has a plot that feels a lot more solid, the acting is decent, and the traps are more thrilling and creative. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a great film by any means but it is one of the best entries in this often cheap/dull horror franchise.
The plot Saw VI works with is just better and more interesting than most of the other films. The idea of a greedy health insurance CEO and his employees being at the center of things is something I found intriguing. Having that as the central issue at hand just makes things feel more legitimate. Being unfairly denied healthcare that they deserve is unfortunately something that many Americans can relate to. I can’t believe that a Saw film actually addressed a core issue in America’s system but they did here which I found admirable.
The acting is also pretty good; no one is Oscar worthy but I never found any moment to be cringeworthy or overly fake. Tobin Bell is very good in the flashback scenes; the ones with Peter Outerbridge are well done. Outerbridge, who stars as the greedy CEO at the center of the game, does a fine job too. I thought he played his role with skill and I believed every bit of his performance. Betsy Russell is better here than she is in The Final Chapter and has some more agency, which I liked. Costas Mandylor does what he needs to do. I’m not the biggest fan of him, I think he comes off as too stiff and sometimes kind of wooden, but in this one he does OK.
The traps are more creative here and they’re actually less gruesome (for the most part). More blood and guts does not equal more thrilling. Here, the suspense is higher and the gore is lower, which I highly approve of. Now there are some very graphic nasty visuals of course, especially in the final trap. There’s a few shots included towards the end that linger on the nastiest part of a certain characters death and I know this should be expected in this type of film but I couldn’t help being like “why?!”
I guess it’s a personal thing but for me those gross over the top shots suck the suspense and fright factor out of the scene. It’s very clearly just done to be gratuitous and that’s just not a good reason. But yes, overall the level of gore is less here compared to other entries, which I did appreciate. The caracul trap was the strongest in my opinion, the suspense of seeing who out of the 6 employees would be granted life was thrilling. That trap works the best because it values high suspense and intensity over extreme carnage. What goes down between Jill Tuck and Detective Hoffman is very intense and proves to be a solid ending.
One of the weaknesses here is Saw VI’s opening. The opening scene is dull and fails to “grab” us as the audience. The scene is of course a trap between two victims and it’s not intelligent or interesting at all. Another thing I didn’t like was that a couple of the employees who were victims didn’t have any real reason to be punished for anything. I was like OK why is the janitor and the middle aged secretary involved in this? That came across as odd to me. Another issue is that while this doesn’t look nearly as cheap visually as The Final Chapter, the visuals still aren’t that great. Even the title sequence is dull, it’s the same style as the previous ones.
Saw VI is better than other Saw films, that’s for damn sure, but it’s also not something you absolutely must see. This one gets a mild recommendation from me.
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