Saw II

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"Oh, yes, there will be blood "

Sept 21st, 2009

A mere year after the original and I found myself sitting through the previews anticipating Jigsaws return. I wasn't sure what to expect, I loved the original but most sequels suck balls. Then again some films take years in pre-production and end up scrapping the barrel, case in point Indy 4. Was there reason to worry? Hell no. All hail Darren Lynn Bousman.

Amazingly this was not conceived as an entry in the Saw franchise, based on a script by the director it was retooled by Leigh Whannell giving us everything we could have wanted. Things are bigger here the budget is higher, the gore is increased, multiple traps and far more Jigsaw. Saw II unlike the original steps firmly into horror territory.

We get two concurrent storylines here – the first is that of detective Matthews and his hunt for the Jigsaw killer but unlike the incompetent Danny Glover his task force track him down within the opening moments of the film. What follows is a battle of wits as Matthews tries to uncover the location of his son from the sadistic John Kramer (Jigsaw).That leads in to the second storyline which is about a selection of characters (including the detective's son) incarcerated within a house of traps.

The look of the film retains the tone of the first, the green filter and quick cuts litter the production and although I'm not partial to them they work in this context. The links between scenes are comic book like as Detective Matthews literally walks from one time period to the next. The blood flows in this one and the body count is high – something seriously lacking in the original.

The traps this time out are in full effect and all have a look similar to Amanda's head trap in the first film, no bad thing in my eyes as that was my favourite scene. Each are geared towards each characters flaws and yes there are questionable choices made by the characters as they step into danger but where's the fun if they play it safe?

Tobin Bell is a revelation as Jigsaw, playing a terminally ill man he still commands power and is truly terrifying. He doesn't need physicality to maintain control. Every word from his mouth seems wise and gospel-like no matter how twisted his outlook on life may be, outstanding. Donnie Wahlberg is also great showing a man on the verge of losing control, a man who has a position of power but no control whatsoever.

Those trapped in the house don't garner as much screen time and due to the amount of people involved have far less personality but that's ok as they serve as cannon fodder for the traps. Even so some do stand out – Shawnee Smith returns as Amanda Young with much more screen time than the original. Shawnee has real screen presence and is able to flesh out her character with the limited amount of dialogue. Her appearance also abolishes the endless questioning about who has done this to the captives as well as removing unnecessary flashbacks. Emmanuelle Vaugier is gorgeous as always and that's about it (wasn't that house cold?). Franky G as Xavier creates a truly nasty piece of work and even though his death was inevitable I truly felt he encapsulates the true spirit of the game, the desire to live.

Like the original this movie does have a twist ending – one that I enjoyed far more than the original and did not see coming. Unfortunately all following entries use the twist ending to far less effective means.

Saw II is my favourite in the franchise so far and I doubt much will happen to change that. The tone is more to my liking and the violence is high enough to keep my bloodlust satisfied. Many don't like the lack of intimacy that the first Saw had but I feel that is more than covered with Jigsaws true presence. Shawnee Smith has star quality and rightfully owns her scream queen status. Unlike the original repeat viewings are encouraged. 9/10

Best Kill
Once again this is not a kill but Amanda Young's plunge into the syringe pit is torturous

The original script was called 'The Desperate'
Shot in only 25 days
Shawnee Smith was pregnant during filming

Other reviews in the series

Saw IV
Saw V
Saw VI
Saw 3D (Saw VII)

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Movie Details

Movie Poster Here
Director:Darren Lynn Bousmen
Screenplay: Darren Lynn Bousmen
Leigh Whannell
Released: 2005
Starring:Tobin Bell
Donnie Wahlberg
Shawnee Smith