Film scores

Soundtrack review: Saw VI (Charlie Clouser – 2009)

saw6

“Saw VI” is a 2009 Canadian-American horror film directed by Kevin Greutert from a screenplay written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan. It is the sixth installment in the seven–part Saw franchise and stars Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Mark Rolston, Peter Outerbridge, and Shawnee Smith. It concludes the second trilogy of movies which dealt with the posthumous effects of the Jigsaw killer and the progression of his successor. As the FBI closes in on him, detective Hoffman sets in motion a game that is designed to reveal Jigsaw’s grand scheme. Charlie Clouser was back to write the score.

This sixth score should complete the progression in quality of music for this second trilogy. I am confident in it since it’s the first album since the third from which I remember themes, cues that stuck to my memory and that I’ve listened to countless times, other than the main theme. We’ll get to them close to the end.

As always you can bet on two things for any Saw score: the barbed wire opening and the Zepp theme ending. Things are no different here except that the screeching opening cue goes beyond a 30 seconds sound effect and deepens the cut. The score cuts right in with passion and the memories of the lackluster moments from IV and V seem to be forgotten. Gone are the minutes that just the tense atmosphere; here we get proper action, intensity and violence. A few cues in and my heart is already beating fast. The industrial, raw and brutal sound is back and a cue like “Flesh” is among the best of the franchise. The tense moments that follow are gripping this time and I feel each note on my skin. The music grabs me and rags me deeper into that maze of abandoned and rusty rooms.

Charlie Clouser finds the right mix of tension, terror and melody to make this score count. Almost every cue has something that makes me feel and react. This time I feel the music on my skin as if it was an extra layer I couldn’t get rid of. Another strength of this score are the longer cues. The best themes are 6 minutes’ worth of thick, dense music. The relentless echo of “Breathe room” makes me want to watch the movie again and enjoy it in context. And then there are the themes I haven’t forgotten: “Carousel” and “Severed hand”. The first one is as sick and twisted as anything Charlie Clouser has ever written. From the playful piano strokes it starts with to the whirlwind of aggressive melodic beats it builds up into this theme is one of the pillars of the franchise.

And even the sixth version of the Zepp theme is something special because it last for 6 minutes as well. A composition of such intensity made into such a long adrenaline rush make “Zepp sixth” my favorite rendition of this theme.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 45 / 67

Album excellence: 67%

Highlights:

Open

Flesh

On My Way

Fed Perez

My Arm

Autopsy

Jill and Hoffman

Breath Room

Take One

Jill Drives

Carousel

Severed Hand

Zepp Six

 

 

 

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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