Darren Lynn Bousmann
With its post-Se7en horror theatrics, Saw was a superb little horror flick, which gained both large commercial success and some respectable reviews. No surprise then that plans for a sequel were immediately put in the pipeline and one year later here it is, conveniently enough on Hallowe’en weekend.
The story concerns eight random strangers trapped in a building in an unknown location. Inside the building are deadly booby traps, while the strangers are are linked together in some way. One of these strangers happens to be the son of Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) who has finally caught up with the infamous serial killer known as Jigsaw. It’s up to Mathews to try to beat the clock to save his son before a lethal dose of nerve gas kills all eight of the strangers.
Saw II is more or less the same as its predecessor, but it takes the storyline one step further into even more morally repugnant territory – there are plenty of scenes in the sequel that could easily make the more squeamish audience member violently sick. Otherwise, it treads the same territory in seeing Jigsaw kidnap and trap people into impossible situations where the only escape is death – again, there is a surprise twist that sets up the inevitable third film.
One of the reasons why Saw II grips the viewer so much are Jigsaw’s ingenious methods of manipulating both his victims and the police, which often bring to mind Hannibal Lecter. However, unlike Lector, Jigsaw is not nearly as charming or articulate – therefore rendering him a far less interesting character. It is his deadly creations, rather than the killer himself, which are the real stars of the film.
Perhaps Saw II’s downfall is that the eight characters chosen for Jigsaw’s deadly plan are completely unlikeable, and therefore it’s very difficult to actually give a damn either way about their fate. Also, Darren Lynn Bousman’s MTV-style direction, complete with overdone and pointless rapid cuts, extreme close-ups and fast pans are annoying and quickly become nauseating.
Fans of the horror genre will love Saw II’s willingness to further push the barriers of horror by offering lots of blood and guts. Although there are some suspenseful moments, much of this film is predictable – although it does succeed in holding the viewer’s attention throughout.
Saw was such a good and surprisingly shocking horror film that its fans wanted to see it all over again. As such, writer Leigh Whanell has given them just that, but with different characters and the numerals II at the end of the title.