Donnie Wahlberg plays a cop whose past, to say the least, is checkered. He is drawn into a very personal confrontation with Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) when the killer kidnaps his son. Jigsaw wants Wahlberg to sit and listen to him if he wants his son to live. The boy, meanwhile, is trapped in a house where the air is slowly filling with a toxic nerve agent, and surrounded by a group of people who, desperate as they are to escape and to find antidotes to the poison, also, did they but know it, have …ood reason to hate the teen in their midst.
The sequel has a goodly number of inventively nasty set pieces, the most squirm-inducing of which involving a pit filled with dirty hypodermic needles. The writing is tighter this time around, and unlike the first, this film doesn’t go off the rails in the third act. And while no one, with the exception of the Bell, can be said to be turning in an understated performance, there is still none of the hysterical scenery chewing that Cary Elwes and Danny Glover engaged in the first time around. In sum, a rather solid piece of horror nastiness (though its unpleasantness is topped rather considerably by Hostel).
This is just the sort of soundtrack you want in a horror film: big, loud and enveloping. The music consists of almost as many fright cues as actual melody, and these cues are place quite cunningly in various speakers. The sound effects are also placed to trigger maxiumum alarm. The bass is great, not only in the music but such sounds as the breaking in of a door by battering ram. The dialogue is clear and undistorted. Good stuff all round.
The picture, too, is excellent. The colours are very rich (in a decaying sort of way). The contrasts are excellent, and the blacks are deep. Thus, even the dark scenes (of which there are plenty) are never murky. There is no unintended or grain or edge enhancement, and the image is a sharp as the edge on Jigsaw’s booby-traps. The events on the screen may be ugly, but they sure do look purdy.
The commentary is one of those round tables, and the participants are director Ddarren Lynn Bousman and actors Whalberg and Beverley Mitchell. It’s informative enough, but there is also plenty of silly joshing around. Folks, if we aren’t there with you, it isn’t funny. “Jigsaw’s Game” is the usual making-of featurette. “The Traps of Jigsaw” is a set of four featurettes that go into considerable detail explaining how the traps were done (the needle scene involved an insane amount of preparation). “Bits and Pieces: The Props of Jigsaw” covers prosthetics FX as well. There are four storyboard-to-screen sequences, and some trailers. The menu is fully animated and scored but is too busy to be as clear as it should be, and having the printing backwards is an unnecessary stylistic fillip.
It’s mean and it’s fun. What a gory B-movie should be. Looks and sounds great, too.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “Jigsaw’s Game” Featurette
- “Bits and Pieces: The Props of Saw II”
- “Jigsaw’s Traps”
- Storyboard-to-Screen Comparisons
- Theatrical Trailer