" I’ll be monitoring your frequency "
— Zoe Saldana, Star Trek

MRQE Top Critic

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In Scream 2, Jamie Kennedy’s character explains the unwritten rules of horror sequels: Number one, the body count is always bigger; number two, the death scenes are always much more elaborate; number three, never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead. Does Saw II hold true to these rules? Yes, but does that make it better then the original Saw? No.

This could be you
This could be you

This rushed, uninspired sequel to last year’s Halloween hit has become a very anticipated film; if people crave more blood, carnage and sawing, then Saw II will be what they’re looking for. Unfortunately, the sparkle in the original film wasn’t its ruthless gore, but its unique, original plot — something completely absent from Saw II.

What we have here is eight people locked up in a house, breathing a venomous gas that will kill them in 2 hours. Their only way to survive is to find various antidotes that are hidden about. The trouble is, each one is protected by deadly traps. Detective Eric Mason (Donnie Wahlberg, brother of Mark Wahlberg and former member of New Kids on the Block) finds the famous Jigsaw killer in an abandoned factory. Upon inspection of the murderer’s hideout, he finds monitors that show the inside of the house, and he discovers his son is among the eight people.

Inside the house there is a race against time, while Detective Mason and the Jigsaw killer (Tobin Bell) discuss life and death and other highly pretentious things the script cooks up. As expected, people start dropping like flies, and a huge twist is obviously going to reveal itself by the end. If you give one thought to what the “twist” is, chances are you’ll guess it; this one isn’t rocket science.

Co-writer and director Darren Lynn Bousman (Identity Lost, Butterfly Dreams) doesn’t quite capture the raw, gritty feeling James Wan delivered in Saw, but excels in providing lifelike, graphic violence. With Saw II being so void of substance, I could only see a true sadist enjoying such a bloody mess.