Killing can be fun
New ways to kill a room full of people
Last year’s indie shocker Saw seemingly came out of nowhere (namely, Australia) and quickly garnered a reputation among horror aficionados as being a rarity among contemporary horror films; a nasty little number that was more concerned with delivering the goods than offering up a multi-plex franchise-pleaser. Of course it had its limitations: an extremely low budget, a couple of tortured twists too many and an accomplished cast that for some reason turned in high school drama club performances.
Saw II learned from those perils, and stands as that rare accomplishment in any genre: a sequel that outshines the original. With a better budget this time around (courtesy of Canada’s new house of horror, Lion’s Gate) the filmmakers get a chance to open things up a bit, so to speak. The antagonist of the first film returns, a perverse genius dying of cancer that takes his resentment of those able-bodied souls wasting their bodies to an extremely unpleasant level, confining them in boobytrapped quarters and rigged with Rube Goldbergian devices that impel the detainee to discover at what lengths they’ll go to rekindle the survival instinct.
This time around it’s a handful of folks locked in a dingy room, exposed to a chemical agent that will kill them Ebola-like within two hours if they don’t ferret out the antidote with the help of cryptic clues left lying about.
While not as nihilistically deranged in the creative lengths they felt compelled to devise for people to die in the first entry, the narrative still presents plenty of cringe-inducing scenarios, with a resolution that may piss off viewers who weren’t exactly paying attention through the course of the proceedings. It’s not exactly a twist, but an organic turn to the narrative that almost breaks the fourth wall, springing a trap on the viewer too lazy to think about what was occurring before them.