I tend to avoid reviewing anything that has more than 10 reviews when I pull it up. Sometimes, however, it is a good idea to review it just as a matter of personal consistency, whether anyone reads the review.
The best things I can say about Saw II are that 1) the humongous and story ruining plot holes in the first Saw have been plugged and 2) it isn’t worse than Hostel which is still the worst movie I’ve ever seen.
The plot summary can fit on a napkin. There is this guy, conveniently named John, who has terminal cancer. He puts people in a situation where they have to face what he sees as their weakest spots in order to escape what is otherwise a deadly situation. In this rendition of this tale, after the initial gratuitous murder, pits several people in a ‘house’ they have to escape because sarin gas is slowly filling the house. They have to solve a puzzle involving their similarities in order to get out. That’s it. The question, as with any porn . . . um . . . I mean gore-fest, is which ONE will solve the puzzle and survive. Multiple survivors breaks such a fundamental horror movie rule that it would be tantamount to breaking the second law of thermodynamics.
I didn’t review Saw because I wasn’t a member when it came out, and I won’t cover it now because, in order to feel right about doing it, I would have to watch it again. That I will not do. Saw II is an improvement over the original, but still stuck so firmly in the shock-for-shock’s sake mold that it will never rise above, say a leach, on the movie evolutionary scale.
There is one major thing that cannot be overlooked. Please keep in mind that suspension of disbelief is often misquoted. What Mr. Coleridge said was you needed a ‘willing’ suspension of disbelief (when he was talking about watching Shakespeare performed on stage). I am willing to go only so far in my disbelief. The fact that they used sarin gas invalidates the movie before more than 20 minutes have passed. First, sarin is fatal at doses so low there couldn’t be a controlled release that would allow a group to stay alive for as long as the movie states. Second, and someone actually says this in the film, there is no antidote to it. So, one big, fat, inconvenient fact destroys part of the movie. Call it something else, it would take a writer less than a millisecond to come up with some fake nerve agent that works slowly—Sarbox (Sarbanes Oxley, something else that works slowly and scares the hell out of some people). I cannot suspend disbelief if it is going to take more energy to do than it would to sit through the whole movie in the first place.
The movie is sort of a training-wheels version of the esoteric and intelligent Cube. A group of people is together in a place they must escape from. They are not going to get along, they have to rely on each other and their own wits to out maneuver the machine set in motion to kill them.
See the problem is that Cube already did that. Furthermore, Cube created suspense by decent story writing and decent acting with only a nod towards the coolness of special effects. Saw II is like an amateur trying to tell the same story. Since they get bored with the actual puzzle (meaning they are the type who prefer the word searches to the more erudite crossword puzzle) they just throw in a pile of violence and deadly traps intended to prey on the thoughtless, which is pretty much everyone in the film. As with Cube, you aren’t supposed to like or identify with anyone in particular in Saw II, this makes the film even harder to digest. If you really aren’t rooting for anyone, then why watch the game? They all deserve whatever ending they get—if they get out alive, they have done so based on luck and not on any twist of character.
I watched it because the first one was so bad; I wanted to see if the same sins were committed. For the most part, they were not—there is one I will cover in just a second. What makes the movies even the slightest bit compelling is that there is a group of adults out there who are coming up with horrific ways of having someone essentially commit suicide by choice, by default because they choose not to play, or to commit a form of masochism so severe that they are literally scarred horribly by the event. The people who have come up with these events are in California presumably driving, voting, and getting paid to come up with not only the idea but also the visual representation of this stuff. For gore buffs this would be the choicest job around.
The only sin recommitted is common for movies like this. Because you really aren’t intended to figure out how things happen, the movie has to sum it up again by a rapid retelling of the salient points where you SHOULD have noticed clues had they really been there. It is sort of a Cliff Notes for those with short attention spans.
I don’t think it is as gory as the first. It isn’t as suspenseful either, but that is the nature of a sequel of this kind.
What did you think of this review?