In 2004 the world got rocked by Saw, a captivating gorefest about a villain named Jigsaw who puts less than pure people in life or death situations to see if they pass his tests. I didn’t hate Saw; it had an original and fresh plot and a killer twist ending. All of these films are extremely gory, but if you can handle it, the first one was worth it. The second, however, is not. Released in 2005, just one year after the franchise debut, Saw II follows Jigsaw on more twisted adventures. This one boasts less plot, worse characters and more blood, resulting in a forgettable and often painful experience.
Full disclosure, it’s difficult for me to even remember Saw II and I just watched it last week. The basics are this: Jigsaw is an ailing man, dying from cancer. He talks the ear off of a detective (Donnie Wahlberg) while eight people trapped in a house attempt to escape their imminent deaths. One of the people trapped is the detective’s son and another is Amanda, Jigsaw’s only known survivor from the first film. Obviously a lot of blood is shed as the eight people try to survive Jigsaw’s traps and tests in an effort to escape.
There’s a lot of pointless monologuing from Jigsaw in this sequel, an attempt to humanize him and make the audience understand him better. Personally, I find his weird puppet much more terrifying than him, but it’s actually quite powerful that an old, frail man can instill such fear and terror. Jigsaw typically collects his victims based on their integrity, or lack of, and the victims often discover they’re somehow linked. Every single victim in this film is completely forgettable, with the exception of Amanda. You will spend a significant portion of the film wondering how it is this girl is unlucky enough to be terrorized by Jigsaw not once, but twice.
What little plot this film has is painful to get through and the traps Jigsaw sets are too gory. I know, I know, you may say in horror there is no such thing. But there is. Gore for gore’s sake, and a ton of it, is not good. It’s not saving horror, it’s just drowning it. As Jigsaw clings to life in this film, so do we. You really have to force yourself to push through it and even though they toss a twist ending in, it’s too little, too late.
If you liked Saw II, you might also like Saw, Hostel or Maniac.