a Primal Root review
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s that time of year again. That time of year where Lionsgate lets it’s cash cow franchise out of the stable and forces it to plop another stinky loaf of torture porn goodness onto the laps of us horror movie fans. I still blows my mind how this franchise continues to spawn entries when it seems every avenue , every possible angle has been explored. Every single possible way the series could justify a sequel by rewriting the past films with endless ham handed flashbacks to what was happening that we were not shown last time around has turned what was once a fun, twisted, bloody little franchise into a boring, convoluted snooze fest of a series. After taking in the lackluster face palmingly craptastic Saw V in 2008 it seemed the franchise had finally hit rock bottom. There was literally nowhere left to go, no plot lines left to develop. The fifth entry even lacked the series trademark twist ending, instead, it just summarized everything we had just seen. It was the laziest entry to date and it looked like the whole series, like it’s lead antagonist Jigsaw, had finally died.
I could not have been more incorrect. The Saw series is just going to keep hanging around like a turd that just won’t flush and like the goofy horror fan that I am I keep getting lured back year after year out of a morbid curiosity just to see what they can dream up next to make up a reason for this installments existence.
Saw VI begins a brand new game featuring the scum sucker president of the Umbrella Insurance company who turned down Jigsaw for a medical treatment that could have rid him of his cancer WAAAAY back before the events of Saw ever took place, and I believe, before the events in the flash backs from Saw IV took place…I dunno, it took place a while ago…Anyhoo, now this jerk has to decide who amongst his co-workers gets to live and who gets to die in three sadistic, assholish games devised by Jigsaw before his death in Saw III and executed by Jigsaw’s Cro-Magnon psycho monotone caveman apprentice, Detective Hoffman.
Hoffman this time around is being fingered as the new Jigsaw after suspcion is raised once the finger prints of the now deceased Detective Straum (featured in Saw IV-Saw V where he was flattened like a pancake at the end) are determined to be that of a ,well, a dead guy. Hoffman is given much more screen time in this installment and finally is beginning to feel as if he kind of belongs here. I, personally, hate this character’s guts. Sure, Jigsaw was a monster but at least he was a man of principal no matter how sick and twisted those principals were. But Jigsaw is a sweet heart when compared to Hoffman who lives by one rule and one rule only. BRUTALITY. The guy is a sociopath who truly gets off on hurting people and watching people hurt each other. He is a loathsome creature on par with Freddy minus any kind of charisma.
Also, the always incredibly gorgeous and talented Betsy Russell (casting her was the best decision made in the franchise since casting Tobin) returns as Jigsaw’s ex-wife who is also helping to carry on the legacy of violence set forth by her late husband. The contents of the box she inherited in Saw…um IV is revealed…or was that Saw V? I dunno… What resides in the box is probably what you guessed all along. Nothing too earth shattering trust me.
Where Saw V had completely run out of steam and felt as if everyone involved was working their asses of just to drag this dead horse a little bit further Saw VI finds some pretty ripe subject matter by gouging into the health insurance industry and exploring the rotten side of this institution just about all of us have had to deal with at some point in our lifetime. Really, there’s a point in the film, where in flashback, the president of Umbrella Insurance mentions to Kramer (Jigsaw) at a fundraising party that they aren’t so dissimilar. See, the president of Umbrella decides who can be covered by his insurance and who cannot according to an equation that allows healthy people to gain coverage where those of us with preexisting conditions and truly NEED health care are denied straight out. In essence, deciding who lives and who dies. The president of Umbrella has no idea how close to the truth he is.
Jigsaw has devised several games where the President of Umbrella must choose who amongst his co-workers are deserving of having their lives spared. Most of these games are interesting and mildly cringe worthy. In one he must decide between a young loner who has no family and an older employee who has a huge family she would be leaving behind. How do you choose? In one game he must sacrifice his own well being and endure intense pain to try and help save the company attorney from having a poll shot through her skull.
And in possibly the best segment of the entire film our Umbrella President guy (who. I must mention, has some wicked side burns) must decide who among six of his more valuable employees are allowed to live. These six employees are called the Dog Pit (er, something like that) and they go through all the insurance claims looking for those who are lying in order to gain their much needed health insurance. Now, these six are tied to a playground spin wheel which spins in a circle and stops every so often in order to shoot one of them in the chest with a shotgun. The Umbrella President has a button he can press to save only two of these six people. Needless to say these six people begin lying their asses off (i.e. “I’M PREGNANT!”, “HE’S BEEN STEALING COMPANY MONEY!” “I”LL LET YOU FUCK ME IN THE ASS LATER!, etc.) in order to try and convince the player to save their lives.
It’s certainly the most interesting and innovative concept the Saw franchise has come up with since the original trilogy ran it’s course. Sure, about half of the film is comprised of flash backs to events that took place off screen in just about every single entry in the Saw franchise in a desperate attempt for the current events in this installment to make a damn bit of sense, but the game itself and the knowledge that perhaps, just perhaps, the health insurance industry is almost entirely the one to blame for Jigsaw going on his little Rube Goldberg / God Complex inspired killing spree in the first place…so I don’t just get to blame the Health Insurance companies for the fact I can’t go to the doctor when I am sick and am unable to buy the medications I desperately need to survive because of preexisting health conditions but they are also responsible for the lame, played out series of torture porn films of the Saw franchise…jeez, the amount of evil these guys are capable of…
Sad to say that by the films end the Saw franchise drops the ball again by not going for a moral ending which would have vindicated Jigsaw’s methods and lessons in forgiveness ( the only person he ever helped with these goddamn games was Amanda and look what happened to her!) and instead goes for the graphic, goopy death the audience really wants to see.
Who is left alive at Saw VI’s ending has me concerned as to where the franchise might be headed. If we thought this franchise was dark and unnecessarily nihilistic I have a very, very, sick feeling we have yet to see the brutality a certain monotone, beefy douche bag is capable of. I cetainly hope the three movies dead Jigsaw was psychic enough to have some more plans in effect for Saw VII because I’m really concerned someone he loves just might be getting a visit next year.
Saw VI continues the horror soap opera with gusto and feels more in synch with the original trilogy than the series has in the previous two installments. It’s not a good film but it is certainly better than I had expected thanks to the current political focus on Health Care and Saw growing some balls and tackling something a bit more topical than usual.
Saw VI provides another bloody graphic endurance test. You won’t have much fun but your cynical side will surely smirk at the devious ways this franchise has come up with to keep the conveyor belt running.
(The Primal Root)