Movie Review
Saw II
Saw 2 poster
By Scott Sycamore     Published October 28, 2005
US Release: October 28, 2005

Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman
Starring: Tobin Bell , Donnie Wahlberg

R
Running Time: 93 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $87,025,093
C+
Unfortunately, only a fraction of what's possible really gets fleshed out (pardon the pun).
I'll get it out of the way right up front: I haven't seen Saw. A year ago, I didn't go to movies much because I wasn't writing for LMI, and I was already fed up with going to the theater and overpaying for cruddy entertainment so often. So I don't have the original in mind as a reference point to this one. No matter though: this movie is a stand-alone work which exists only to do its job - and that job is to shock, disgust, and brutalize its audience.

Now, a lot of you might be saying, "Yeah, but is that such a bad thing?" I can feel where you're coming from. There's so much safe, pre-censored fare in the marketplace nowadays that something which pulls no punches can be refreshing. Part of the allure of horror movies is that they push boundaries; they contain issues and images which can't be breached in other genres, and intense emotions are provoked. Unfortunately, Saw II pushes the wrong kinds of buttons.

The excessive violence didn't give me a rush; it just brought me down. In a sense, this movie is akin to the sadistic torture the killer puts his victims through. This is the cinematic equivalent of somebody grabbing your head and shaking it furiously while screaming at the top of their lungs right at you. I can see the doctors in A Clockwork Orange showing this to Alex, eye drops and all. And that's the problem: it's all mind-numbing savagery without real nuance or subtlety.

The movie concerns the exploits of John, a.k.a. Jigsaw. He's a serial killer who plays games with his victims, forcing them into extremely puzzling and claustrophobic situations. The whole of the plot is a race against time with a group of people trying to find their way out of a creepy house before they all die of nerve gas-poisoning. A detective plus S.W.A.T. team are on the case as it?s happening, watching the horror play out over video monitors set up in Jigsaw's lair. They interrogate the killer, attempting to get him to spill the info about where the victims are. He won?t budge. So, surely enough, a deadly game of cat-and-mouse ensues.

It's an ideal enough plot for a movie like this, and sets up what could be some deliciously fiendish scenarios. Unfortunately, only a fraction of what's possible really gets fleshed out (pardon the pun). The story tries to twist your mind around and keep you "confused" all the way up to the obligatory surprise ending; but after a while you realize that it's just about guiding us towards gruesomeness, and not any kind of actual payoff which we can be thrilled about. Once you gather that the plot's not really building towards much, it takes the air out of the whole experience. I was expecting some world-crashing mayhem at the end, and all I got was a pretty standard wrap-up.

Saw II never busts through to the arena of the Fun Factor. It's so thickly dark that it never achieves a grandly over-the-top sense of headlong energy. Its aim is to punish rather than entertain. This is a movie that's not just about serial killers but seems to be actually made FOR them. To really, really enjoy this flick, I would think you have to be a pretty sick bastard. That's not to say that certain slasher fans and undemanding teens won't enjoy it, but this is definitely not one that will cross over to a mainstream audience. There's gonna be no "I usually don't like horror movies, but..." camp for this one. This is for the hardcore, tattooed, pierced, drug-and-booze-addled mofos out there - a movie that the lowlifes of the world can be proud of. If you're looking for massive head trauma that you can actually recover from, you've found it in Saw II.
Scott's Grade: C+
Scott's Overall Grading: 417 graded movies
A15.1%
B59.2%
C24.5%
D1.2%
F0.0%
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