Saw VI

Year: 2008
Production Co: Twisted Pictures
Studio: Lionsgate
Director: Kevin Gruetert
Producer: Mark Burg/Gregg Hoffman/Oren Koules
Writer: Marcus Dunstan/Patrick Melton
Cast: Costas Mandylor, Tobin Bell, Betsey Russell, Mark Rolston, Shawnee Smith, Athena Karkanis

Series editor Kevin Gruetert takes over from Darren Lynn Bousman and series production designer David Hackl, which was a smart movie by Lionsgate and the producers - all these guys are intimately familiar not just with the look and asethetic of a Saw movie but the particular language (including the dream-like, unfocused, blue-tinged visual mood of the flashback sequences) and the long-standing plot structure.

There's not a lot to say by this point about the design, sense of movement and colour palette of the movie because it's been so thoroughly consistent since day one and once again, writers Melton and Dunstan know their brief – to continue to tell the same story by building out and gradually revealing the backstory.

As usual, we open with two people in a Jigsaw trap. They have to remove flesh from their bodies using supplied knives, and whoever reaches a goal weight first will be released while the other dies, his temple pierced with heavy bolts.

After the survivor is released and gets away, Erickson (Mark Rolston), Perez and Strahm's boss from the last film, calls Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) to the scene to help him investigate, nobody still with any idea Hoffman is Jigsaw's last surviving accomplice. It's revealed that Perez is alive after all, her surviving the exploding Billy puppet hidden by Erickson for her safety, giving Hoffman one more loose end to worry about because he knows she still has a suspiscion about him – one she told Strahm about before he died in Hoffman's trap at the end of the last film.

Hoffman's also approached by a reporter who cryptically tells him about something she found at Jigsaw's old factory that's got something to do with the box he left his wife Jill (Betsey Russell) in his will.

Meanwhile the last group of hapless victims are assembled in the factory, their living and dying decided by their boss, insurance assessor Easton. He goes from one gruesome set-up to another – deciding whether to kill his secretary or a clerk at his office, choosing three out of six co-workers to die on a deliciously evil contraption involving a playground carousel and a shotgun and trying to lead his in-house lawyer through a maze of hissing steam pipes.

Meanwhile, Erickson and Perez have the audio tape from Seth Baxter's murder, the guy from the Pit and the Pendulum-inspired swinging blade, and they're in the midst of getting the audio unscrambled by a technician. Hoffman knows if they succeed he'll be found out, and as soon as the tape has been processed and his voice rings out he kills everyone in the room, crossing a bigger line than usual having murdered two FBI agents and a cop. He implicates Strahm by using the fingerprints of his dead hand, torches the place and leaves.

By now we've already seem a flashback in which John Kramer (Tobin Bell), insured by Easton's company, is rejected from an experimental cancer treatment overseas, so we know why Easton and his employess are in Jigsaw's traps, but the reveal about the woman and son watching Easton's progress from their own trap and the identity of the reporter – by now locked in a similar room – brings it all together.

From there the reveals come thick and fast. Easton's fate is agonised over by the woman and her son in the next cage while we see him sentencing John to the same death sentence he did another man that inspired John to his new career in the first place. Jill arrives at the factory while Hoffman watches proceeedings, tasing him, strapping him to a chair and showing him the last picture John left her in the box – a photo of Hoffman himself, now intended to be Jigsaw's final victim by way of the jawtrap also in the box.

As the screams and blood emerge from the monitors in front of Hoffman, he finds the trap on his head, Jill giving him the signature line from the whole franchise – 'game over', and leaving him to die.

Saw 3D: The Final Chapter probably wasn't only in planning at this point but preproduction, so the cliffhanger we're left with was probably quite premeditated, but everything here is distinctly its own entry following a formula that was by then perfectly laid down, while still tying threads back to the very beginning of the series.

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