If you saw it the first time, see it again

Ben Breier

If this guy fought the clown from ‘It,’ who would win? I have my money on this guy.

Credit: Ben Breier


Saw II

Starring Tobin Bell, Donnie Wahlberg, Shawnee Smith

Directed by David Lynn Bousman

Released by Lions Gate Films

Stater rating (out of four): ***1/2


Sequels are a tricky thing in the movie industry. Usually, a movie sequel fails and falls flat on its face because it tries so hard to outdo its predecessor that it forgets about the core concepts that made viewers interested in the original movie in the first place.

And upon first glance, Saw II looks like one of these sequels. Instead of two people in a room, we’ve got eight people in an abandoned house. The movie even opens up with one of the most gruesome and suspenseful scenes ever displayed on the silver screen, as a man has roughly sixty seconds to get out of a Venus fly trap which threatens to clamp around his face.

The acting is above average, but nothing to make you take notice and drop your jaw, with the occasional exception of serial killer John “Jigsaw” Kramer (Tobin Bell). As a frail terminal cancer patient, he manages to be consistently eerie, intimidating and suspenseful. It’d be nice if the same thing could be said about Detective Eric Mason (Donnie Wahlberg) who acts like every violent police officer that you’ve already seen on “NYPD Blue” reruns. Other than a lackluster performance by Wahlberg and a great performance by Bell, the acting is pretty much what you’d expect from your average horror flick, with everybody expressing excessive amounts of paranoia and tension.

What really makes this movie great, however, is the plotline and disturbing imagery it provides. Without giving too much away, the plot will take completely unforeseen twists and turns that will leave you feeling like you were on the receiving end of a cerebral swirly.

As the eight victims in the house scramble around and piece together clues to figure out what they all have in common, a poisonous nerve gas is being induced in to their systems, forcing their bodies to breakdown and decompose from the inside. It’s a successful addition to the high-stakes atmosphere, and manages to be a welcome variation on the typical timed-threatening-situation scenario.

With eight people stuck in the house, you can imagine that character development in Saw II wouldn’t be as intense and in-depth as the development in the first movie. The movie does a relatively good job of managing so many captive personalities in the house, but it doesn’t come anywhere near the neighborhood of the development the first movie had. If the house would’ve had just a few less people – perhaps half a dozen rather than eight – the character development would’ve been much better and allowed viewers to relate to the characters on a bigger scale.

Granted, this is a horror movie, and people die relatively quickly – but some more character development would’ve been greatly appreciated.

Saw II also manages to pay homage to the original. Viewers were left wondering what happened to the captive photographer and doctor in the first movie; you’ll get to see a conclusive scene that provides explanation to the original Saw’s ambiguous ending.

In the end, what we have is a sequel that manages to successfully blow its predecessor away. Saw II doesn’t forget about the details that made the original movie enjoyable to a lot of people out there, and instead manages to expand its established formula of stomach-churning tension and sickening gore.

Move over, Exorcism of Emily Rose – this is what a real horror film looks like.

Contact ALL correspondent Ben Breier at [email protected].