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SAW II (2005)

saw 2 poster

Saw II (2005) – Jigsaw locks a few unlucky people in a booby-trapped shelter and they must find a way out before they inhale too much of a lethal nerve gas and die. But they must watch out, for the traps Jigsaw has set in the shelter lead to death also.

I was a huge fan of Saw. It came out of nowhere, had a tiny budget and just plain shocked everyone that went to see it. Not only was it an excellent thriller in the mould of other serial killer films like Se7en & Silence of the Lambs, but it brought a level of gore and torture to an audience that they weren’t used to seeing in mainstream cinema, and they lapped it up. Of course, too much of a good thing leads to countless rip-offs and they dilute the market, resulting in films like Saw and Hostel getting blamed for creating the torture porn craze. Despite that, and looking past the critical mauling these films tend to get, I am here today to continue my reviews for the franchise. After all, part 1 of my review came out on Halloween, so it’s only been 7 months in coming……

saw_two_ver2

As always, when reviewing a franchise there may be spoilers. I won’t give away the twists or anything crazy, but sometimes if you havent seen any of the series all I can recommend is that you go watch part 1 and work through them before reading anything. Or maybe just scroll to my scores and see how highly I rate them.

Still here? Ok, here we go.

billy doll from saw

After the financial success of Saw, a sequel was immediately green-lit. Leigh Whannell and James Wan were busy preparing for their next film and were unable to write or direct. Luckily a young man named Darren Lynn Bousman wrote a script called “The Desperate” before Saw was released and was looking for a producer but many studios rejected it. Another man who was a producer named Gregg Hoffman (RIP good sir) received the script and showed it to his partners Mark Burg and Oren Koules. It was decided that, with some changes, it could be made into Saw II. Leigh Whannell became available to provide re-writes of the script, and along with Bousman they wrote Saw II.

The film opens with one of Jigsaw’s latest victims, in this case a police informant, in a bit of a quandary. Will he mutilate himself in order to get to a key and unlock a deadly venus flytrap-like contraption secured around his head, or will he be unable to tear himself apart in order to ultimately survive? Immediately we are thrust into this world, and seeing how far someone will go to stay alive.

venus fly trap

Guess where the key is?

After his escape and revelations at the end of the first movie, we now catch up and find out our Jigsaw killer is slowly dying of cancer, and in much worse shape than we last caught  a glimpse of him. After goading the police, they find his hideout and storm in to capture him. What they find is Jigsaw hooked up to IV’s and he doesn’t put up a struggle when confronted.

The 'Jigsaw' Killer

The ‘Jigsaw’ Killer

The easy capture turns out to be part of his twisted plan. It seems Jigsaw’s already coordinated his next murders. He’s locked a group of eight people in an unknown location with a video feed set up for the police to watch. And to make things even more interesting, one of the potential victims is Detective Mathews’ (Donnie Wahlberg) son Daniel (Eric Knudson). If it wasn’t personal before, it definitely becomes that way after Mathews sees what’s happening to the strangers Jigsaw’s kidnapped and forced to fight for their lives. They are in an abandoned house that is rigged with elaborate murder devices. Matthews and his partner Kerry (Dina Meyer) can only watch on Jigsaw’s hidden cameras as the victims discover their fate.

Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Matthews

Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Matthews

Inside the booby-trapped house are a collection of former drug addicts and convicts whom Jigsaw has chosen for his latest experiment in survival of the fittest. Trapped in the house with Daniel are Xavier (Franky G), Jonas (Glen Plummer), Addison (Emmanuel Vaugier), Laura (Beverly Mitchell), Obi (Tim Byrd) and Amanda (Shawnee Smith). In a cruel twist of fate, Daniels destiny lies partly in the hands of Amanda, since she was a victim in the original movie. Despite escaping her original trap, she hasn’t learnt her lesson and has been punished by Jigsaw yet again and forced to play games for her life once more. How the antidote is hidden is part of Jigsaw’s sadistic pattern of complicated killing devices that allow the victims a role in deciding how far they will go to save their own life.

saw 2 movie

In the original film, Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is only seen very briefly. Here in part two he is front and centre the whole time, and that was such a good thing to see. I remember clearly wondering how they would approach a sequel, and it was a novel twist to have our killer (who states he never actually kills) right up and front, taunting the watching police.

With a much larger budget (tiny in comparison to most hollywood movies) and larger cast, Saw II really excels and surprised me. So many times horror fans are treated to sub-standard cash-in sequels, and it’s so nice to see this movie not fall into that category. Only a couple of flaws stop this movie scoring an equal very high rating as the original.

saw 2 xavier

Watching Bousman doing his thing as a director made me a fan of his for life. I’ve watched and reviewed his more recent work, and Mothers Day is still the best film he has made in my opinion. With Saw II he made his name, and showed off lots of skills, fast cuts, scene transitions and of course importantly with this kind of movie the man has an eye for blood and pain!!

The acting on show in Saw II is great. Wahlberg was so much better than I anticipated he would be, and it’s nice to see Shawnee Smith get a bit more camera time here. But the treat and highlight is watching Tobin Bell bring Jigsaw into our lives. He is such an iconic villain now, and the most remarkable (frightening) aspect is that he could be anyone of us. Just a normal man, with no superpowers or witchcraft to fall back on. Sure, his mind may be a little twisted, but the reasons (or his reasons) become clearer as the franchise progresses.

Shawnee Smith as Amanda. A drug addict who never learnt her lesson

Shawnee Smith as Amanda. A drug addict who never learnt her lesson

Saw has become synonymous with gory traps and surprise endings. Both of those criteria are ticked off here. Plenty of blood and ingenious traps for the gore hounds, and an ending so spectacular and surprising it rivals the first one in my humble opinion.

The main thing that Saw movies are is really good horror movies. Bloody, brutal, squirm inducing, stomach churning horror movies. This is what you want from the blood and guts genre. Saw II delivers and then some, and the best thing about loving Saw II is that there was only 12 months to go until Saw III came out. Stay tuned for my thoughts on that soon.

Ratings09

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56 Comments

  1. I quite like the Saw films up until about the third, after that it’s all downhill; like a lot of long-running franchises, or so it seems! It has a pretty decent story to it as well, so the torture is almost justified…and the torture scenes are pretty admirable in terms of visual effects and creativity.
    Agreed, the craze definitely dilutes the market, and sadly people jump on the ‘it’s mindless torture porn rubbish’ band wagon all the time. I think Saw is one of few decent contemporary horror franchises.

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    • Obviously, if you read my future SAW reviews, you will see which I like. I’ll be honest, I love them all, lol!! Something about them…..I mean my scores fluctuate but I still think for what they do its incredible the consistency and fan service.

      Glad you at least like the first few! Thanks Natasha 🙂

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      • Understandable, they are pretty good! I like them all but I would probably only watch the first three again. I’m a sucker for things like that, love a bit of gore, I’m a bit of a fan of the Final Destination series also!
        😀

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        • I would say they are al excellent, bar 5.

          I love Final Destination movies, so clever!! You seen the latest one? Loved the clever twist ending 🙂

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        • I know, yeah I saw the latest in the cinema in 3D…it was pretty gross but loved the ending 🙂

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        • Ah I just saw it at home in 3D. Lots of eye things and very clever ending. Watching back and looking for the clues made me mad how I never spotted it earlier 🙂

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  2. GaryLee828

     /  June 1, 2013

    Tyson, Saw 5 probably was the worst of the franchise, BUT it had the BEST ending of any of the installments! That ending was like WTF!!!??? It was so brilliant! lol.

    But with that in mind the entire Saw franchise was genius and it played out like a series. I don’t know why people complained every time a new installment was released. It wasn’t just some lame sequel; it continued a story; the same way each new episode of “Dexter” does. Would you complain when there’s a new episode of a series? No, you can’t wait for the next episode! So, why are you complaining about a new installment from a franchise like “Saw” or “Paranormal Activity” that continues the story? It doesn’t make sense to me.

    I think Saw 6 was my favorite installment. I loved it! Then I would probably say parts 2&3, followed by 1&7.

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    • I dont know about 5 being the best ending, but aside from that we agree about it all! Nice to see you feel the same about it all as I do Gary. Definitely had a nice feel to it that it was 7 consecutive years of a great film series coming out.

      I did love Saw 6, really took me by surprise how good that was. For me, that was maybe the best ending…..after the orignal of course! 🙂

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      • GaryLee828

         /  June 1, 2013

        Do you remember what happened specifically at the end of part 5?

        The ending of part 1 didn’t surprise me b/c I didn’t assume the body in the room was dead. I wondered throughout the whole movie; so when he was in-fact alive it was no shock to me.

        But the end of part 5 I did NOT see coming at all! lol.

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        • Of course, but I would still say out of them all its the weakest film and weakest ending. Still great and a clever ending, just the weakest.

          I dont believe anyone who says they guessed the ending to the first one. 🙂

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        • GaryLee828

           /  June 1, 2013

          No, I’m always honest; if something throws me for a loop I’m the first to admit it. “The Others” totally threw me. I love films that do. The twist in “The Hidden face” threw me. But the ending of Saw 1 did not. Like I said, I was never convinced the body was actually dead from the very beginning; but even though the ending didn’t surprise me I still liked the movie, and I did like the ending – I just wasn’t surprised by it. If you get a second I have a “Clever Twists & Endings” page on my blog if you want to check it out and get an idea of which movie endings did surprise me.

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        • Hmmm….. A guy with a gun and blood/head wound you thought was alive?!?! Whatever lol 😉

          Ill check out your page mate, always good to find what makes us tick. Ill just avoid ones like hidden face that I still need to watch. I look forward to that ending surprising me 🙂

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        • GaryLee828

           /  June 1, 2013

          The twist for The Hidden Face comes in the middle of the film instead of the end.

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        • I’m genuinely looking forward to it. I think that’s why I keep putting it off. I was really excited for Kill List and came away very disappointed.

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        • GaryLee828

           /  June 1, 2013

          You may as well watch now so you don’t run the risk of running into spoilers ahead of time, b/c if you learn the twist in advance the experience greatly diminishes. Be sure not to watch the trailer b/c the trailer gives it away.

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        • I have avoided the trailer, and I will watch it within the next week (I hope!!) 🙂

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  3. SPOILERS……….

    I’m a big fan of the series, but I don’t see Saw 4 getting much love. I thought it was genius to make a sequel that plays out in parallel to the previous movie. What do you even call that? A side-quel?? I think that was my favorite twist ending in the whole series. “Holy shit! This is happening at the same time as Saw 3!” Clever stuff.

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    • Just put a little spoiler warning up there Curtis, just to be safe 🙂

      My review for Saw IV will be up soon, but I loved it and the genius part of the twist. Very clever, totally fooled me. Glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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  4. I really liked Saw 1 and was hesitant on sequels (if only I knew!) but I did enjoy Saw 2. Good review.

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  5. Ryan

     /  June 1, 2013

    I loved the first Saw, and still do, and liked this one ok too. As you point out, the ending is pretty damn ingenious. That’s where I and this franchise part ways though, as I tried to watch part 3 twice and fell asleep both times, so I just figured I was done with it. Again, more for you!! Good review, and Shawnee Smith is great in anything. Ever see the 80’s remake of The Blob?

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    • You fell asleep!?!? Haha, well maybe not the franchise for you. They are all great films though 🙂

      I haven’t seen The Blob, was she in that??

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      • Ryan

         /  June 2, 2013

        Yep, main character. She’s also a fun psychotic supporting actress in the miniseries they did of The Stand.

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        • Ill have to look for both of them, cheers! I have seen her in Anger Management as Charlie’s ex wife. She looks good at least 🙂

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  6. You guys. You are all so HAPPY covered in gore! I wish I could share your passion. I’m happy covered with dirt and dog hair. Does that count?

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  7. This is the one with Emmanuelle Vaugier. I would have helped her. Then she would have said “My Hero!” and there would have been marriage, kids, lots of coitus, more kids and finally my death of exhaustion at the tender young age of 90.

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  8. theipc

     /  June 1, 2013

    Howdy – I only ever saw the first one and this one – not my favorite franchise – I just never could get into how detailed these “traps” were – no one can think that far ahead.

    Except me.

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    • Jigsaw does explain how he thinks in advance……one day I will make you watch all 7 back to back. In return I’ll torture myself with some Dr Who.

      Thanks chief 🙂

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  9. The first 2 Saw films were execellent. I liked this as much as the first. Rest of the series was ok. Didn’t hate them, but didn’t love them. They were all the same film in terms of writing, directing and editing.

    The first 2 however really stand out

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    • I may love the franchise more than most. For me, they were so clever and unique. Each one offered something new and the continuity was pretty much flawless.

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

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  10. davecrewe

     /  June 2, 2013

    Great review; I’ve only seen the first film so far (which I really liked), but this has convinced me to hunt this down at least – though, sadly, the twist ending has already been spoiled for me. I don’t know if I can handle that syringe pit though! Something about syringes and self-mutilation just gets under my skin *shudders*

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    • Shame that the twist has been ruined for you. Still, even knowing what you do I think you will still enjoy it, looking out for clues etc.

      The syringes was one of the traps I wanted to show, mainly because it wasn’t as brutal as some of the others. Cheers Dave, and let me know what you think if you ever catch it 🙂

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      • davecrewe

         /  June 2, 2013

        I think brutal traps don’t bother me so much, since I can so easily think of them as special effects. Little things like syringes or someone cutting their own skin creep me out far worse than, say, a blowtorch to the eye!

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        • What about a venus fly trap to the head!! LOL – my wife hates anything to do with eyes. Needless to say the first trap in this movie made her very unhappy.

          Without trying to sound like a stupid internet tough guy, I dont have a problem watching most things with gore etc in films. But needles are probably my worst. Not so much in a pit like in SAW II, but anything injecting like Requiem for a Dream, I struggle with that.

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        • davecrewe

           /  June 2, 2013

          Yes! The scene towards the end of Requiem for a Dream where Jared Leto is injecting into his abcess…ugh, I just can’t watch it. And yeah, most gore doesn’t bother me either; I’m honestly normally just marvelling at how well they’ve achieved the special effects. 🙂

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        • Yeah, that kind of scene is worse than anything pretty much. Even stuff in Martyrs, and that shit was mental 🙂

          Definitely scary sometimes how realistic it all looks. Impressive though!

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  11. Sadly I’ve only ever seen the 4th one. Or was it the 3rd? Anyway I had to review it for work, so I had to wiki the plot. Still it seems very clever how they work every little detail into an ongoing saga.

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    • It is clever, and despite a couple of far fetched parts it works so well. At least you’ve seen one of them Drew! Cheers 🙂

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  12. Shawnee Smith in the pit with needles is my favorite scene in that sequel. I tend to get the sequels mixed up. It might be time to revisit them all in a marathon.

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  13. Ok, I give up….where’s the key?

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  14. I’ve only seen the first one, Tyson, and I’ll admit it was better than I’d expected. Your enthusiasm has me interested in checking out the others, though; I was just over on Stu’s site commenting on ‘Starship Troopers’, and mentioned Dina Meyer…and lo and behold, here you are letting me know that she’s in ‘Saw II’ as well. So, I guess that one will going into the queue ASAP!

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    • She is in a few of these, I wont say how many, but is very good with her role. Hope you enjoy it. Bit gory, but worth it for the twists 🙂

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    • She is in a few of these, I wont say how many, but is very good with her role. Hope you enjoy it. Bit gory, but worth it for the twists 🙂

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