Thursday, 22 November 2012

Saw II (2005)

“Live or die. Make your choice.”

I suppose it’s never been more predictable which film I’m going to blog next. Fear not, though: I’m not just going to rattle through all six Saw films one after another, so if you don’t like these films you can stay tuned. Before I start, though, I have to praise this film for respecting the intelligence of its audience and using Roman numerals in the title, something not many films do in these lowest-common-denominator times.

This film feels no more like a horror or slasher movie than the last one, and feels even more strongly like a police procedural, because that’s what it is. Like Columbo, this isn’t a whodunit so much as a whydunit: we already know who Jigsaw is, but that’s about all we do know. The plot twists and revelations are every bit as awesome as in the earlier film, but this time we have the added bonus of more screen time from the splendid Tobin Bell.

Jigsaw’s motives begin to become a little clearer; his motives appear to be sincere, although the sadism is genuine too. All of his victims are found wanting in some way, harsh though his moral judgements may often be, The deaths are horrible an d gloriously gory but, once again, not sufficiently so as to justify the “torture porn” reputation.

The central character, Detective Matthews, is corrupt, self-centred and, naturally, jigsaw’s true target. He can never quite be an audience identification figure, so instead we get Kerry, the flawed but honest detective. Matthews is slowly and
psychologically tortured although, interestingly, his son is not harmed, in spite of some petty criminal acts. This is done, and revealed, very cleverly (the footage is not live). If anything, the plotting is even more satisfying this time round, and we get some highly accurate skewering of reality TV to boot.

John Kramer’s motive for being Jigsaw is more than a little existential, to put it mildly. His characterisation may be somewhat superficial but there are real ideas at play here. Amanda, with her apparent Stockholm syndrome being revealed as having led to becoming Jigsaw’s accomplice, is a particularly disturbing and fascinating character.

Once again this is an excellent film. Nice soundtrack, too: it’s good to hear Mudvayne over the closing titles. Next time, though, it’s time for a bit of a break from the Saw films…

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