10.23.2009 | By Ted Faraone |
In an extraordinary move the Spanish government have restricted “Saw VI” (not surprisingly the sixth installment in the Jigsaw horror series) to the nation’s eight theaters that are allowed to show porno. While this begs the question, “Are Spaniards really into Pay Per View?” Your critic says that it is an over-the-top judgment call.
Your critic entered the screening room expecting something akin to a snuff film that would arouse men who harbor violent thoughts against women. Fortunately such was not the case. However, pic contains moments that those with weak stomachs should avoid.
“Saw VI” meets or exceeds all standards on a technical level. Sound recording works. Lensing is competent. Special effects don’t look expensive, but work. Editing delivers just the right amount of tension. Where it falls down is in storyline and acting. There are three thesps who turn in creditable performances: Tobin Bell, who created the role of Jigsaw John, Betsy Russell as his wife, addiction doc Jill, and Peter Outerbridge as William, a medical insurance executive who is pic’s evil capitalist. The rest, notably Costas Mandylor as crooked detective Hoffman, either sleepwalk through their roles or need to go back to acting school. In Mandylor’s case, those who remember him from TV’s “Picket Fences” will be disappointed to know that he has both gained weight and lost talent. Dialogue is subpar. Plot leaves a ton of loose ends. Most of them have to do with the question, “Why?”
While dying of a cancer for which William’s insurance company refused to cover treatment (pic is at least timely) Jigsaw John has developed a very nasty post mortem revenge plot cloaked in pseudo human decency. He sets up William, the insurance VP who refused coverage for an experimental procedure, in a catch 22. He has to save himself by killing others. Instead of building suspense, plot is an excuse to string together a series of bloody vignettes. It’s a sort of “Galaxy Quest” on acid. Such clues as exist are telegraphed. Surprises surprise without any credible setup.
It is never explained why wife Jill goes along with the bloody scheme and why crooked detective Hoffman executes it. It’s those pesky loose ends….
Direction on a technical level by Kevin Greutert is good. Screenplay by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton should have been sent back for rewrites. But “Saw” is a franchise. It functions on a different plane from the rest of cinema. It has a track record at the box office and a loyal audience. Lionsgate’s marketing strategy of not showing it to crix until opening day is open to debate, but pix such as “Saw VI” tend not be affected by notices.