If you haven’t followed the series up until now, there’s not much point in trying to catch up with the agonized convolutions of the Saw saga’s plotline. Somebody tried to explain the plot of Saw III or IV to me once, and it took a half-hour—this film, presumably like its predecessors, is a bumblefuck involving a serial killer, Jigsaw (a thin-lipped Tobin Bell, now intoning from beyond the grave), who devises Fear Factor, “The Pit and the Pendulum”–style deadly dilemmas for his victims. Taken just as an objet d’art, Saw VI—gray, grisly, solemn, stupid—would be about the most dismal thing I’ve ever laid eyes on, the argument against film preservation, but it vaults into the realm of real detestability through pretensions of relevance: having Jigsaw go after faddish bad guys such as usurers made to cut their own pound of flesh, and a team of insurance company employees looking out for the bottom line. Yes, Saw VI, you’re a vehicle for positive social action. Suggested plot for the inevitable Saw VII: Jigsaw captures and tortures “artists” and studio execs who have money and access to a supple, potentially transcendent, and ennobling medium but instead make a lot of Saw movies.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 20, 2009