Saw 2

2 stars


2nd March 2006

The original Saw was something of a triumph - a tightly-plotted schlock horror that used its budget limitations to its advantage and pinched all the right bits from the genre to forge a grisly identity all of its own. Just a year later, the inevitable sequel rears its ugly, pig head - it wasn't particularly wanted or needed, yet here it is, promising buckets of blood and more dastardly puzzles (think Carol Voderman's Sudoku with added decapitations).

Remember Jigsaw, the murderer with the hard-on for the Puzzle Compendium from the first movie? He's back and concocting ever-more painful ways to introduce sharp things to the soft flesh of sinners. Replacing Danny Glover as the clichéd burnt-out, grizzled cop of the piece is Donnie Wahlberg - see how Jigsaw plays on his conscience as he swears, shouts and drinks coffee recklessly! As per usual, our twisted serial mentalist gets the jump on the boys in blue, this time holing up seven seemingly innocent members of the public, together with Wahlberg's outcast son in a deserted house. This isn't just 99 Acacia Avenue, oh no - this particular house is lined with booby traps and bone-shattering traps, the kind of in-house features you only get to see on the bloopers reel of the Changing Rooms DVD. So, we've got fleshy puppets and a house of death - let the carnage begin! It's how you always dreamed Big Brother would be!

Where the original Saw focused on just the two characters and had them slowly uncover clues from their macabre surroundings, here you have eight potential fatalities, all of whom have been infected by a deadly virus and must complete gruesome tasks to win the antidote and their survival. Only problem is, each character is so depressingly two-dimensional, you'd struggle to give less of a shit about them if you were in a coma. As our contestants begin to get the chop in a increasingly inane fashion (one task actually involved climbing into an oven to get the antidote - how fiendish!) it becomes apparent that Jigsaw's playthings all have one thing in common - they were all arrested by Wahlberg's crooked cop. Does this matter? Not a jot. You might expect the inmates to turn on the seed of Donnie, but this never comes to a head, just one story thread that is started yet never brought to conclusion. "What were you put away for?" asks one housemate to another. "Does it matter?" comes the reply. Yes! Yes it fucking does! At least, it should if you want me to invest even the slightest interest in your fate, you... you poorly written, expendable bastard, you!

Right from the outset, Saw's influences are obvious. A group of strangers, all with a common interest, wake to find themselves in a bobby-trapped hellhole with no idea how they got there. Any clues yet? How about if I tell you that the Latino guy starts to go a bit fruit loop and starts corpsing up the place? Any closer? If you haven't seen Cube, I'd recommend finding it for a fiver from somewhere. It manages to maintain a palpable sense of tension and a fear of the unknown throughout, whereas Saw 2 has you second-guessing every character and every action to the point that, whenever a new room is discovered, you're physically willing one of the unfortunate housemates to cop it. You shouldn't expect horror movies to show any great degree of intelligence, but Saw 2 often shows Jade Goody-esque levels of intellect, which is unforgivable in this day and age.

The puzzles aren't nearly as ingenious as they were in the first Saw movie, the acting is uniformly awful all round and even the gore - the main selling point of the entire flick, if you believe the posters - will fail to satisfy all but the most limp-wristed of horror aficionados. Saw 2 suffers from a lack of focus - does it want to be an out-and-out horror, a nail-biting psychological thriller or a scathing indictment on the increasingly worrying state of reality TV? - and this time, loud thrashy music and sub-MTV editing can't distract you from a duff story that's sole purpose seems to be to cash in on the Halloween crowd. Enjoyable enough with a few cans and a pizza or three it may be, but don't dare confuse with for a proper night's entertainment - like the pink meatbags within Jigsaw's house of pain themselves, Saw 2 is poorly executed and best put out of its misery.

More:  Saw  Horror  Slasher  Sequel  Violence
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