‘Saw II’ is “Just as Gory & Satisfying as the First!”

Today we received another stack of reader reviews for Lions Gate Films’ Saw II, all of which were positive. A pretty constant theme in the reviews I’ve read is that if you liked the first film, you’re totally going to dig Darren Bousman’s sequel- but if you hated the first, you should avoid this at all costs. Read on for ‘The Switcher’s’ thought’s on the sequel, which stars Donnie Wahlberg, Franky G., Glenn Plummer, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Beverley Mitchell, Eric Knudsen, Shawnee Smith, Dina Meyer and Tobin Bell. Saw II hits theaters everywhere this Friday…
By: B-D reader, The Switcher
Beware spoilers

Just came back from what was called “The North American Premiere” of Saw II, at the Montreal Madness Movie Marathon; a special 10pm-to-6am horror film all-nighter that’s in it’s second year of existence.

I attended the first marathon as well which also premiered the original Saw, so I was hyped up for this one, as this sorta crowd is very receptive to Jigsaw’s wacky adventures.

Let’s get down to the meat of it: Saw II is a much superior film to the first outing for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, Leigh Whannell has a written a much better and focused narrative this time around. Gone are the pointless time jumps from the original, and the useless Danny Glover side-story that seemed so tacked on in the previous outing.

This time, Saw II focuses on the killer’s taunting of one detective; Eric Matthews, as played very convincingly by Donnie Wahlberg. This conflict between the two men is what everything Saw II revolves around, even when it doesn’t seem like it during the course of the plot.

The main hitch is that Jigsaw has kidnapped seven strangers and plunked them in a fun house of sorts, and has video cameras installed to watch their every move. This was not for Jigsaw’s benefit, but the police instead. Early on, Matthews and a Swat team are able to track down Jigsaw, and find the video feeds showing the seven people arguing and wondering where they now find themselves.

Jigsaw, knowing his time is reaching it’s end due to cancer, lets himself be caught so he can talk to Matthews face to face. This is also when he reveals that one of the seven strangers in the house is the detective’s only son, Daniel.

The house itself is slowly being flooded with a nerve gas that will kill each person, unless they can find certain vials of antidote hidden throughout the house. They have only 3 hours to do, or the gas will reduce each person to having “blood pour out of every orifice” as Jigsaw himself artistically puts it.

As always, Jiggy has left certain clues and nasty traps to make sure his subjects play the game by his rules. The tension of the film has a great build up, as Detective Matthews gets more and more desperate as the timer counts down, and he watches his son get deader and deader as time goes on.

The story is obviously simple, and it’s this singularity that makes Saw II enjoyable. Rather then a time-jumping, flash-back ridden hodgepodge that I found the first film to be, Saw II lets you simply enjoy the blood and chaos that ensues. The 7 housemates are pretty standard; bitchy girl, tough guy, quiet loner, level-headed guy, etc… each actor works well with the material, and everyone hits the right notes, which is good for relative unknown cast. Shawnee Smith returns to reprise her role from the first Saw, as the only survivor of Jigsaw’s games. You really sympathize with her, as it’s just so…unfair she has to be put through this kinda ordeal again…

Saw II doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the red stuff, it’s just as gory and satisfying as the first, but the various traps and tests aren’t nearly as creative and fun as some of Jigsaw’s earlier contraptions. They’re just plain violent and spew a lot of blood and pain.

The switch to Darren Lynn Bousman as a director doesn’t seem to have had much of a different effect, as Saw II looks much like the first, and uses alot of the same visual tricks. The sets look pretty much the same, all the rooms having that dingy, venereal-disease ridden flavor that Courtney Love might feel at home in.

Speaking of which, if you are expecting the same twist ending as the first, then you won’t be disappointed. While it’s simply not as shocking or as cool, it’s still pretty interesting, and took the entire story in a different direction. Certain references to the first film also crop up near the end, and the audience gobbled it up. Great reactions.

So while Saw II isn’t reinventing the wheel of horror flicks, it’s still one of the better entries I’ve seen all year. So if you liked the first Saw, it’s a definite must-see…but if you didn’t dig the style and execution, this sequel won’t make you a fan either.

If you use this, call me The Switcher!