Published on October 31st, 2005 | by Erich Becker0
Review: Saw II
Sequels in this day and age are lucky to have half the inspiration that made their predecessors worth a movie-goers time. Good sequels have always been few and far between, but over the last few years we’ve been cursed with atrocious sequels, let alone horror film sequels, that bring nothing to the table other than a way for the movie studios to make money.
Imagine my surprise when Saw II actually managed to be a good movie which only accentuated the fact that it was a good horror movie sequel.
Make no mistakes about it, Saw II was made to cash in on the success of the original, but never before have you seen a movie purely made for the money turn out so well in the end. Made on the cheap, just like the original, the film should make back its entire production and marketing budget in its opening week of release.
Saw II picks up right where the first film left off, well, some time has passed, but Jigsaw, the serial killer who never actually kills, is still building engineering marvels used to split skulls and disembody his victims. The film opens up with a Jigsaw related murder in the old-school, awe-inspiring type of death we used to see in the inventive 80’s. Jigsaw leaves a clue this time for Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Walhberg) to find him, which he does. What Matthews only comes to realize, after finding Jigsaw, is that several people have been locked into a house and a deadly nerve agent is floating in the air. They have two hours to live, but some of them won’t make it that long.
Writers Darren Lynn Bousman and Leigh Whannell have really outdone themselves with this smart sequel by topping the killing games of the original. Whereas Saw featured two men chained inside a decrepit bathroom and told of the history of the killer via Danny Glover’s character, Saw II puts us right in the middle of the “games.” The cast is composed of mostly throwaway characters who will only serve as canon fodder throughout the film. We aren’t introduced to many of them, and for good reason, within an hour most of them are dead.
Aside from the no-name cast, sans Franky G (Johnny Zero, The Italian Job) and Beverly Mitchell (7th Heaven), Saw II suffers badly from horribly-cliché-ridden dialog and awful delivery. The character’s aren’t anything but standard 2D cut-outs of other seen in many movies over the year, but it’s the over-arching story and a perplexingly smart killer that gives Saw II its edge.
Much has been said about Saw II‘s ending and how some believe it to be contrived only to further the series as a money-making option for Lion’s Gate and others, such as myself, thought it was very well done, but on the border of being cringe worthy. You certainly don’t see it coming, but if anything, the film leaves you guessing like a good episode of 24, always thinking that no everyone is what they seem and there’s more to the picture than what you can see.
Where The Ring Two felt it necessary to merely tread water on the familiar ground of the series, Saw II seems to be very content with reinventing itself in each subsequent sequel. Hopefully though, unlike Friday the 13th before it, this series doesn’t approach things too outlandishly to the point where you drive away your core audience (anyone remember the “thrilling” climax of Jason Takes Manhattan?).
Sure it was made for the money and had some lofty shoes to live up to, but Saw II may be one of the most surprising hits of the year because it had virtually nothing going for it other than the installed base of the horror genre and managed to surprise a lot of people, myself included.
Is it a spectacular horror film? No, but it sure is a darn good time at the movies, and a Halloween weekend well spent, plus, based on its early success, we have Saw III to look forward to next year, even if it is only for the money.