Second Slice of the Jigsaw Puzzle
When Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg - The Sixth Sense) attends a crime scene connected to Jigsaw (Tobin Bell - Best of the Best 4: Without Warning) he finds that the creator of torturous devices has left a message just for him. It leads to a restless night and an idea of where Jigsaw maybe hiding. But after Eric and a SWAT team raid the place and come eye to eye with the sick and sick in the head Jigsaw, Eric discovers that his son Daniel (Erik Knudsen - My Husband's Double Life) has been taken hostage with a group of other people, all of whom have been locked in a house of horrors which is slowly filling up with a poisonous nerve gas. Jigsaw promises to spare Daniel's life if Eric will follow the rules of his sinister game.
When I first watched "Saw II" I was as impressed as I had been with the first "Saw" movie, yet when I recently re-watched the first "Saw" it didn't stand up as well as I expected it to. Fortunately "Saw II" does stand up better and still has the same dual impact of mystery and gore which it always had. As such part of the movie gives us the confrontation as Eric comes face to face with Jigsaw and tries to work out why he is being targeted and why he is doing so by kidnapping his son and forcing him to be part of a group navigating his sick games. In truth it is this side of "Saw II" which in some ways has lost its impact although even when you know how it ends it still grabs your attention.
But where "Saw II" is still at its most entertaining is of course when it comes to the creativity and sick nature of the traps and trials which the victims have to deal with. What is interesting when you revisit "Saw II" is that whilst the traps are still disturbing they almost feel tame compared to those which followed in the other movies in the "Saw" series as well as the level of gore porn which fills horror movies over a decade later. Despite this the effects of guns behind a locked door, a helmet with nails in as well as a pit of syringes all have the desired gruesome effect of making you cringe yet still keeping you watching.
Of course what is so nice about "Saw II" as well as the movies to follow is that we get a slightly bigger picture. As such we learn a little more about John Kramer, aka Jigsaw and by the time the movie ends and we have a revelation or two we not only understand that he doesn't operate alone but there are more unanswered questions to be answered come the third movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Saw II" whilst not quite as impressive as I remember it being it is still a highly effective horror movie. And truth be told it has stood up better than the first "Saw" movie did when I re-watched that one.