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Saw II (2005)

Oh, yes. There will be blood.

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 93 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18


Saw the first had me all the way through, and I don’t care what anyone else says, the twist ending remained a twist for me until it was revealed. That movie signaled a new era in the horror genre—gore AND cleverness that didn’t stick to the rules of the traditional scary movie. Saw II brings back some of the best elements of the original, like Jigsaw, and original “victim” Amanda, but expands its scope and ups the blood and guts—plus its got a New Kid on the Block in it.

Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) is feeling pretty good about himself for capturing wanted serial killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) for about five minutes—that’s about how long it takes him to realize that his “catch” was all a set-up. He and his team have indeed found Jigsaw, but they also discover that this abandoned warehouse is merely a remote viewing station to the killer’s latest series of tests—and that one of the seven “subjects” is Matthews’ teenage son Daniel (Erik Knudsen). From there, everyone is in a race against time—Matthews and his team are trying to decipher Jigsaw’s clues in order to save the seven strangers from certain death, while the seven new subjects try to make their way through a series of tests before they’re poisoned by a deadly nerve gas. Once again, Jigsaw is full of surprises.

The Saw flicks are many things, combining blood splatter with psychological horror, and some of the best traps aren’t just bloody—they’re cringe-inducing, playing on fears of needles, fire, and the like. We ask ourselves: would I do THAT to survive? It’s rare to find a horror film with this kind of gore that also asks its audience to think a bit, but that’s the beauty behind Jigsaw—he’s a sicko, but you kind of get it. Shawnee Smith’s return as Amanda was a welcome reprise, and Wahlberg does an admirable job of fleshing out a pretty two-dimensional detective role. Now, where the first Saw, for the most part, kept us focused on one room and two people, here, the universe expands, which takes away a bit of the fun, because I like a little claustrophobia in my horror. Also, with an expanded cast of victims, there’s never much time to care about most of them (and it’s never fully explained why they were chosen), and I found myself more interested in the next trap than if its intended subject would survive. But, even with those complaints, this second installment in the series is both a worthy follow up and a promising hint of what’s to come.

It's Got: Fantastic effects, cool new traps, Shawnee Smith.

It Needs: A few less victims, better resolution to the “why” of why they were chosen.

DVD Extras Audio Commentary (Darren Lynn Bousman, director; Donnie Wahlberg and Beverly Mitchell, actors); Jigsaw’s Game; ”Bits and Pieces” featurette (props); “The Traps of Saw “ featurette; Storyboards; Trailers. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10


Not as good as the first but still good, Saw II takes us back into Jigsaw’s world and gives us even more fun and bloody stuff to look at.