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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Slasher > Saw II (Lionsgate Widescreen DVD)

Saw II (Widescreen)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C-     Film: C-



After intelligent films about serial killers (Silence of The Lambs, Se7en) and one about a possible snuff film murder (the original and only 8mm) broke cinematic ground, the huge number of bad serial killer movies have recently given way to a new kind of Horror genre work that is the worst cycle yet.  After the explicit exploitation films of the 1960s and 1970s, followed by the slice & dice films of the 1980s and revivals of the above in the 1990s, the genre has bottomed out in what has slowly developed into a “mutilate and snuff” cycle.  Now, people do not come to a Horror film to be scared, but to see people be tortured and degraded in a way that is just plain idiotic.  Saw II (2005) is the sequel to one of those films, which was a hit that had a mystery with all kinds of logic flaws.  The new film is much worse than the first, not just because it is less ambitious and has more mutilation, but because it is even more senseless.


This time, former boy-band performer Donnie Wahlberg (Mark’s younger brother, who also proved he could act in films like the grossly underseen Diamond Men) is a police detective who is challenged by the serial killer dubbed “jigsaw” but before they can get “jiggy with it” and capture him, his troubled son has been kidnapped and put into a house with a bunch of others with a criminal past.  Another “death game” with no brains is afoot and can he save his son from death?  The captives are being fed nerve gas to impair their judgment and have to find a way to escape and find antidotes before the gas makes them sick.  Of course, the film might just do that to you with any gas.


Of course, the sequel did some business, but not as much as was hoped and part of the reason is that a golden opportunity to do a really suspenseful, smart film with a smart script was skipped for more slick editing, fast bucks, gross moments and mutilations.  This includes a twist ending that is an insult to the ticket/video buyer that degrades what little the first film had going for it.  Though not as outright depraved as Final Destination 3 (2006) is as among the worse of the worse, it often comes very close.


For one thing, it is one of those stupid sequels designed to trick its audience in thinking they are smarter than they are by following a formula that makes the sequel seem better than the original by cannibalizing the first film in a way that allows audiences who think they are know it alls to think they know it all.  Also, the film does set up a few moments of suspense, but the dark secret of al these films is that they allow that suspense to be negated by a sort of “escape clause” in which anyone (the majority who would pay to see this kind of product) to switch to just waiting for the next mutilation instead of allowing any suspense to challenge them.  The result is a tired mess that could have gone straight to cable, but has the blood-soaked chic of the original being a moderate hit.  That everyone is made out to be disposable in the outset further verifies how cheap life is in these films.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is the stereotypical kind with gutted out color, bad lighting, a dulled look and you can always tell from the lack of Video Red.  Yes, that includes the color of the blood, which is always off-red which makes the gore somehow more annoying because it is not as visually honest.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 EX mix is the best thing about this disc by default, though why it is not in DTS is odd.  Extras include four featurettes (one lasts only 3 minutes, so that term is being abused here), trailers for the theatrical release and an audio commentary by Wahlberg, Beverley Mitchell and director Bousman.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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