Thursday, April 30, 2015

Film Review: Saw 2 (2005)

Saw 2 (Review)
United States/Canada/2005
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...more focused on its violence and gore than its predecessor, but it's still visually effective."

Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) is brought into one of Jigsaw's (Tobin Bell) deadly games when his son is abducted and trapped in a desolate home filled with other participants...

Saw 2 follows Detective Matthews as he tries to rescue his son. Matthews and his police have finally cornered Jigsaw, but can't arrest him yet. The police find surveillance videos of a group of people who have been caught and forced to play one of Jigsaw's game -- this group includes Matthews' son. So, Matthews interrogates Jigsaw, while the group of prisoner simultaneously try to escape a desolate home filled with disturbing traps. The ending of the film is twisted -- it lacks the same punch from the first, but it's still good.

Saw 2 is a disturbing horror film. Unlike its predecessor, Saw 2 becomes more of a torture film with some mystery than a mystery film with some torture. So, there are plenty of characters and plenty of sick violence. The notorious needle scene, for example, is nightmarish. (of course, this scene is much more effective if you're afraid of needles. But, really, who isn't?) Being burned alive is a close second, too. Getting your wrists trapped in a cutting mechanism and having yourself bleed out is also painful. You get the gist, though. There are a lot of traps and there's a lot of violence.

Although I ultimately enjoyed the film, I felt like this approach made it less effective. For example, there are so many characters here, we're never actually introduced to any but a few. So, although the torture is brutal, it's not really scarring. It's visually cringe-inducing, but it's not psychologically frightening, if you get my drift. Also, there are quite a few plot holes and some plot contrivances. Every now and then, you'll have a character who conveniently drops something, in turn causing the plot to move forward. Then, you've got characters who aren't very bright -- they don't even bother to search for any other exit!

The acting is hit-or-miss, too. Donnie Wahlberg is good, exactly what you'd expect from a Wahlberg. Tobin Bell is sinister. Shawnee Smith, who plays Amanda, overacts quite a bit. In fact, most of the characters trapped in the home overact quite a bit. (I'd point each out, but I can hardly remember their names. The plot doesn't care much for them.) The film has the same grungy and mucky style -- it doesn't look bad. The editing gets a little frantic, but not as often or severe as the first. Director Darren Lynn Bousman does a good job replicating James Wan's original. It's not as suspenseful or eerie as the first, but it's not necessarily flawed when it comes to direction -- except for some of the acting.

Overall, Saw 2 is a very good horror film. It's more focused on its violence and gore than its predecessor, but it's still visually effective. The story is twisted, too, despite some plot and character issues. It's not perfect, but it's memorable and thrilling. I wouldn't say it's necessarily scary, but it's definitely disturbing. If you don't mind the strong focus on violence, this is a treat for those who enjoy twisted stories.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Graphic violence and torture.

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