Published Oct 01, 2005Even the most optimistic horror fan has reason to be sceptical over the release of this sequel to last year's surprise hit. It was only a year ago that Saw was released, making Saw II a remarkable achievement in hasty filmmaking.; the fact that it just so happens to see its release on Halloween weekend (again) is surely no coincidence. However, it's the absence of the original's co-creator and director, Aussie James Wan, that is most suspicious.
Directed by American newcomer Bousman, Saw II maintains its significance due largely in part to the return of co-creator and screenwriter Leigh Whannell, who helped pen the screenplay (sadly though, he does not reprise his role of the captive Adam). Beginning with the most intense scene of either film, Saw II does a good job of establishing a story that ties in with the original from the outset.
Jigsaw (a creepy Tobin Bell), the madman who sets up the elaborately torturous games, is trapped and quickly wasting away from cancer in his warehouse headquarters when he is caught by the police, led by Eric Matthews (a sloppy Donnie Wahlberg). Revealing a new game containing Matthews' son and six others, the police are forced to learn the whereabouts of the prisoners before they die of poisonous gas. Locked inside an abandoned house, the seven hostages receive cryptic instructions from Jigsaw on how to survive (akin to the first film), which are filled with potentially fatal stunts (not unlike a careless edition of Fear Factor).
Saw II has plenty of nail-biting moments that know how to separate the strong-stomached from the squeamish. Bousman has lifted his style directly from Wan, honing a true copycat technique that uses the same grungy atmospheres and rapid jump-cuts. In another move to familiarise the viewers, recurring minor characters are brought back for bigger roles, which despite the fact that they are indeed weak roles, are sufficient enough to maintain a mandatory link.
As the trailer says "there will be blood," and there is a lot more than in the first film which Bousman falls back on to help carry this much weaker story. And again, there is a potent twist at the end that is vaguely foreseeable and a little too desperate and restless in setting up the next sequel.
Nonetheless, the nerve-wracking events leading up to that moment are filled with enough gory entertainment and witty tricks to keep fans of the first film satisfied. (Maple)