Reviews & Previews - Saw II

Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2005 at 08:00 PM


By: S. Tran

Starring: Tobin Bell, Donnie Walhberg, Dina Meyer, Erik Knudson, Shawnee Smith
Directed By: Darren Lynn Bousman
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Rated: Rated R for grisly violence and gore, terror, language and drug content.

A Cut Above

Saw II is the sequel to the surprise hit horror flick Saw, a low budget thriller released last year. Bell is back as the Jigsaw killer and this time he has trapped eight people in a house filled with poisonous gas and its up to detective Matthews (Walhberg) and his partner Kerry (Meyers) to figure out the clues in time to save the unfortunate victims. To add a sense of urgency to the proceedings the victims include Matthew's son, Daniel (Knudson).

Saw II and the original Saw aren't your typical horror movies in that the scares don't come from boogeymen jumping out from the shadows. Instead the creators build up the suspense by putting the characters in difficult situations that make both the intended victims and the audience squirm. It's the anticipation of what might happen rather that the actual event that provides the chills (although the actual deaths are also quite gruesome). The traps push the audience's buttons because they all speak to some pretty primal fears that most of us have. A good example of this is the pit filled with used syringes that the victims are forced to dig through. After all, who isn't scared of needles?

Adding to fun are the clues set up by Jigsaw. It adds another element to the usual run-hide-run-trip over a root-die formula of typical slasher flicks. This also allows for a bit of thinking on the part of the audience as we try and keep up with what is happening on the screen.

Unfortunately when a movie attempts to be clever it can create a couple problems that Saw II eventually does run into. The first is that the clues may be too easy to figure out for the audience leaving us to wonder why the victims can't solve them. The second problem comes when something gets lost in the editing process and there are clues that aren't clearly explained.

Despite some shortcomings the devices in the movie work overall and there are some good twists and turns.

Like most sequels though Saw II isn't quite as effective as the original. Once you have been exposed to the premise of the movie you tend to lose that sense of the unknown that is so vital to these types of films. In this sense the film loses a bit of the edge that the original had as we come in knowing what to expect.

As for the cast, Walhberg has come into his own as an actor and although he only has emote despair and anger he does a good job; good enough for us to forget his boy band roots. Bell is suitably infuriating and scary as Jigsaw and puts on a Christopher Walken type performance, oozing a quiet scariness. The rest of the cast put forward good performances as well.

Saw II had a bigger budget than the original and it shows in the production values. The movie is slicker than the original but the designers of the sets managed to keep the visuals dark and dirty enough to enhance the creepy feel of the film. Its almost as if the grime of the locations is yet another thing for us to be scared of. Not only do you have to worry about the axe about to chop your head off you also start thinking about whether you should be touching any of the door knobs for fear of catching something.

If you enjoy a good scary movie and want to squirm in your seat for a bit then check out Saw II.


3 out of 5 stars.


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to