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Old 1st Nov 2006, 12:46   #1
Stewart
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Default Saw II

Feeling like a bit of a horror movie to liven up my Hallowe'en, I turned to Saw II. I'd seen the first movie the previous year and thought that, while silly in parts, it did the job and provided a satisfying twist and gave up something I do enjoy in a horror movie: a bleak ending. Who wants happy people and a resolved situation at the end of a horror flick? It just woulnd't sit as uneasy on the mind after viewing. So, given the invention of the first, the question I, like others, had on my mind was how they were going to better the first. The answer, like most sequels, is that they couldn't.

The film begins with one of the notorious machinations of the previous film's Jigsaw killer. A man wakes up in a room and there's a mask around his neck resembling an iron maiden. After watching some video footage he learns that he has one hour to retrieve the key in order to save himself or else the mask will snap shut, its many nails piercing his brain. Needless to say he doesn't get the key and his death serves as the opener into the film's real story.

The premise is that a cop's name is written on the ceiling at the scene of the aforementioned sap's death and this neatly brings him into the case, despite the cop handling previous Jigsaw murders being one of those annoying whingers who go on about it being their case. The cop notices something which leads the investigation to an abandoned factory where the Jigsaw killer - he prefers to be called John - sits awaiting them.

From there we get a number of CCTV screens showing grainy footage of a group trapped in a room somewhere. One just happens to be the cop's son. Yes, you guessed it: Jigsaw wants to play a game with these people, but he also wants to play a game with the cop.

And the storyline progresses between the cops at the abandoned factory trying to work out where the people in the CCTV are, and the people themselves trying to work out how to escape from where they are. But, in the attempt to raise the game for the purposes of the sequel, the makers also reduce the power of the film so that it's only a bare shadow of the original.

Saw II features a boring bunch of stock characters. Enter the world weary cop, the other cop possessive of her case, the cryptic sociopath, the former junkie, the screaming girl who does little else, the token black, and more. There is nothing to these people. Tiny flashbacks occur for only a few of them leaving them with the slightest hint of character. But, for those without a past, they act as the main course in a feast of blood. Since we can't empathise with them, we can't feel sorrow at their deaths, making the film a series of gory encounters reduced to shallow thrills rather than playing on the viewer's fear.

The plotting, overall, was okay but far too calculated. In these sort of films you expect the killer to win the day as people blunder into their traps. But the games here are so elaborate and contrived, that you have to resort to that old notion of a willing suspension of belief. That some calculating killer could accurately predict the actions of so many variables needs such a suspension. As does the construction and accumulation of Jigsaw's torturous devices. (And his reasons for doing what he does, which isn't a patch on Raymond's in Spoorloos.)

As for the twist at the end, it was cheap. Part of it was easily guessed at due to the content of the initial tape recording played by the group in the CCTV footage. But the other half was such a getout clause on behalf of the writer that it brings the film from an almost The Usual Suspects level of trickery to something approaching slapstick.

Saw II, along with its predecessor and Hostel, is one of those films that would rather bring quick shocks to its viewers with oodlings of blood and gore, rather than provide any real horror. It's a farce and in no way memorable (as evidenced above by the fact I can't even remember the cop's name, despite him being the main character) and leaves me in doubt that it's a movie that should never have been made. It's more wish-I-hadn't-bothered than saw.

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Last edited by Stewart; 4th Nov 2006 at 14:06.
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Old 1st Nov 2006, 14:03   #2
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Default Re: Saw II

The just-released threequel, Saw III, apparently caused people to faint in cinemas in England this past weekend.

I have to say I have never voluntarily seen a horror film and I have absolutely no desire to. It's doubtless an extension of my risk-averse personality generally, but I cannot understand the idea of paying to be terrified. Same goes for rollercoasters and the like, and indeed practical jokes and pranks where people are genuinely upset even temporarily.
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Old 1st Nov 2006, 14:12   #3
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Default Re: Saw II

I think I'm with John on the 'safe sofa'. I have watched Cube (which is an excellent film in all other respects) but that was almost too much in terms of damage to bodily parts.
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Old 1st Nov 2006, 14:26   #4
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Default Re: Saw II

Yes I saw Cube too, but I didn't think of it as a horror film, more a suspense/puzzle type thing.
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Old 1st Nov 2006, 15:09   #5
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Default Re: Saw II

Ooooh, Cube. I should really watch that again some time. Loved it. Hmmm... now to convince the significant other to join in...
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Old 1st Nov 2006, 15:13   #6
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Default Re: Saw II

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self View Post
Yes I saw Cube too, but I didn't think of it as a horror film, more a suspense/puzzle type thing.
From what I've been reading online Saw II was just a movie that was doing the rounds in Hollywood and not going anywhere because it was deemed too gory. But, on the success of Saw the script was bought up and the guy who wrote the original was brought in to "saw-ify" it. But, on IMDB, it would seem that a number of people found this film to be too similar to Cube - which I've not yet seen - but most seem to have enjoyed it. Bearing in mind that most of the membership there think Fear Factor is the best TV show ever, I don't think their opinion can pass a sentience test. One response, for example, was Saw II is better than Saw because it has more traps.


Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self
I cannot understand the idea of paying to be terrified.
I've been a horror fan since I was a kid and have always had a thing for vampires, wolves, witches, demons, ghosts, zombies, spooky children, and blobs. I just love it; can't explain it. But then again, I was more terrified as a kid and watching them now there's nothing terrifying about them. The notion of horror, in recent years, would seem to be blood sells. But there's blood in all sorts of films: they are cheap grossouts these days.

The Japanese have been more original - Ring especially - in creating their horror in that they've kept it psychological which is where it works best.
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Old 1st Nov 2006, 15:20   #7
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Default Re: Saw II

Spooky scary stuff is better horror than people forced to chop off their own flesh etc in order to survive, and all the countdowns in Saw I/II/III to people having bodily parts tortured in ludicrously gory and extreme ways. I recorded Frank Langella's 1979 Dracula last night - that'll do me for the mo.
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Old 1st Nov 2006, 15:20   #8
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Default Re: Saw II

Quote:
...always had a thing for vampires, wolves, witches, demons, ghosts, zombies, spooky children, and blobs.
Oooooh, blobs. You know there really aren't enough films featuring blobs these days. I mean obviously the pinnacle of blobbiness has already been made and can - and must - be seen by one and all in the form of The Blob. Partly because it stars a teenaged Steve McQueen, partly because the small-town cheesiness is just too laughable to believe, but mostly for the truly wonderful opening music and credits. I hugely enjoyed the Ghostbusters movies too, and then of course there's The Thing, which is sort of blobby at various stages.

Of course, none of these is really a horror movie at all, and I think that's why I like them - they're pretty ridiculous! Still, I can't think of any decent blob movies from the past decade or so. Have I just been missing out?
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Old 1st Nov 2006, 19:03   #9
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Default Re: Saw II

Cube is fantastic - plus it cost less than half a million dollars to make and for Sci-Fi (hell, for any film nowadays) that's miraculous. Cube 2: Hypercube is... well... it's a sequel, that's about as nice as you can be. Cube Zero (guess-what-it's-a-prequel) on the other hand might be my least favourite movie of all time - not only is it completely terrible in it's own right on every possible level, it actually, deliberately, tries to make Cube Original a worse movie. Criminal.

Oh yeah. I watched Saw. Didn't think much to be honest. I've had Saw 2 described to me before and it was almost word-for-word with Stewart's review except for with worse language.
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Old 1st Nov 2006, 19:04   #10
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Default Re: Saw II

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Originally Posted by Daveybot View Post
I can't think of any decent blob movies from the past decade or so. Have I just been missing out?
The recet Slither sort of incorporates blob-based horror, but that shouldn't lure you into watching it if there's nobody with a gun pressed to your temple around - it's crap.
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