Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Seven Days of Sawdom: Day Two

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to The Seven Days of Sawdom. Today, we continue along where we left off in the franchise, which shouldn't be too bad. So with that said, I'll cut to today's movie, as you know the drill...

Saw II

Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) is in a bit of a dilemma: the Jigsaw killer (Tobin Bell) has been caught. But it's all part of his plan, as his son Daniel (Erik Knudsen) is trapped in a house with seven other people that are being exposed to a potent nerve gas, one of whom is a survivor of one of Jigsaw's games (Shawnee Smith). It becomes a race against time as Eric tries to save Daniel and the seven people trapped in the house try to fight their way out.

The first thing that comes to my mind is that there seems to be a staple of the series arising already: they show lots of human suffering, and they don't try to make it look pretty. The amount of seriousness invested in these movies is beginning to skyrocket; the treatment of death as an absolute is incredible here, and it never takes it self too lightly. The characters too are shown to be vulnerable, and after a while we begin to really hope they'll survive against the improbable odds stacked against them.

And this is the first of the franchise where we really start to see a reliance of gore to get the point across about how horrendous this all is. Now the depictions of death get graphic, from one guy getting shot in the eye on camera to where we see the slitting of a throat on screen. The amount of gore gets a bit of an upgrade, and it becomes quite horrific.

Unfortunately, the tension that was prevalent throughout the last installment suffers a slight dip. I won't blame it on the gore, as there are a lot of other factors at play here (I'll go into it more once I give my rating), but a lot of the tension of 'holy shit, what's gonna happen now' isn't really as dire as it was. But I will explain more when I give my thoughts on the direction the franchise is starting to take here. I attribute it to a change of director (Darren Lyn Bousman took over the franchise from James Wan), but again, I'll go more into that after the rating.

This is not to say there's no tension at all, however; there's still a certain tug at our 'will they make it' sense. There's really only one asshole victim in this movie, and fortunately the others are treated as victims of something greater than themselves. As well, the tension is helped greatly by a cleverly constructed plot twist at the end (which I will not spoil for you, but I can't guarantee it won't be spoiled somewhere down the line as the franchise continues), and the plot twist is very well executed. It also starts to build backstory for the Jigsaw killer through his scenes with Eric Matthews, and we begin to get a fascinating character study.

So while it's a step down from the previous installment in terms of the build-up of tension, Saw II still works as a competent horror film. I don't really have much else to say, so...


It has a few problems, but it's still worth checking out.

Okay, so my current thoughts about the franchise?

Well, I attribute the slight drop of tension to a few things. The one is that they're starting to unravel the mystery of the Jigsaw killer. I think this works great for character studies, but really movie, take it one step at a time. After all, things stop being scary the more we know about them. I'm beginning to sense that the focus is now turning on the traps rather than the killer, but it's trying to hang on to the character of the Jigsaw killer. While it's admirable, it does distract slightly. Given what I've heard of the rest of the franchise, I think it might tear itself apart.

Another thing is that they reveal why the people are in the house a little too early for my liking. I would've liked it if they had kept why they were in the house secret for about five minutes longer than they actually did. That said, though, the twist at the end was beautifully executed, so I'll forgive them for that.

The last thing? It's starting to rely on the gore a little more as a device to build dread. Fortunately, the gore was fairly mild here; headshots, a slashed throat, all fairly easy stuff to swallow. The traps aren't too elaborate, but we'll see as the franchise goes on, because from what I hear they get fairly elaborate. If this is the case, I'm a little afraid about what we'll see as the gore gets more complicated.

So as for how it'll turn out? If what I hear about the franchise is correct, then it'll start going way downhill real soon. But again, we'll see. We haven't gotten to the two dreaded installments yet, so there is still hope for the franchise, I think.

This is Herr Wozzeck Reviews, at the sunset of the Second Day of Sawdom. I'll see you guys next time, and I hope you'll join me on the Third Day of Sawdom when I review Saw III.

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