Saw II (2005) – Review

3 Stars

Saw II is superior to the one-trick-pony original, if only because this time the characters and world are more fully explored. Particularly the emergence of one of the greatest screen villains since Hannibal Lecture, in Jigsaw (Tobin Bell). The first Saw centered on two men trapped in a room together, the sequel presents us with five strangers, upping the ante in all categories. The story is two-fold in this outing, we are given the usual grisly deaths by way of forced manipulation, but we are also privy to an intriguing battle of wits and ideology between the killer and a detective.

Five people with seemingly no connection to one another are kidnapped and awaken in a room trapped together, monitored by an ever present camera system. Included in the group is Danny, the teenage son of detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg). The cop responsible for tracking down and eventually capturing the serial killer known as Jigsaw. What Matthews doesn’t realize is that Danny and the other hostages are being subjected to a powerful gas creeping into each person’s nervous system. Giving each victim just two hours to find their way out of the entombment before the vapor begins to break down body tissue and lead to bleeding out of every orifice.

Making Jigsaw a soft spoken, wheelchair bound cancer patient is a master stroke. In a time when slasher films and creature features were ruling the horror genre, Saw II delivers the diminutive Tobin Bell as an alternative to Freddy Kruger or Michael Myers. He is a man obsessed with mortality, namely his own, who’s survived a suicide attempt and vowed to spend the rest of his days “testing the fabric of human nature”. By making people appreciate their lives through the near loss of it.

As corny as it may sound to the uninitiated, Saw II becomes something of a morality-horror-fable. So we sort of understand when Jigsaw makes one captive, a heroin dealer grovel in a pit of used needles to find a buried key. The clever (or macabre) twist is that the dealer toss a fellow hostage into the pit in his place. For people like me with a discomfort for anything that pierces, it is an unsettling sequence. Saw II is arguably the most satisfying entry in the entire series. The gore is full blown and the story is fleshed out just enough to keep the body count high and the audience intrigued.

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Stars: Donnie Wahlberg,

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