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Film Review ***: Once Again ‘Saw 2’ Makes the Cut

Gruesome Thriller Just in Time for All Hallow’s Eve

By Yong-yi Zhu

Saw II

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Written by Darren Lynn Bousman and Leigh Whannell

Starring Donnie Wahlberg and Tobin Bell

Rated R

Opens Today

From the moment the movie opens, “Saw II” will not only keep you guessing as to what will happen next, but will also force your stomach to turn over many times in the process. This thriller pushes the bounds of macabre to new heights.

Its violence and gore are on par with films like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and its intensity matches that of tradition slasher films. Jigsaw, the psychopathic killer played by Tobin Bell, is back at his old tricks; he is once again kidnapping innocent people and forcing them to play sick games that he has devised. By putting a final timestamp on people’s lives, he thinks he is allowing his victims to contemplate how much life means to them.

Leigh Whannell, one of the writers of “Saw” and the man who played Adam in the original, returns to write the screenplay for the sequel. This movie has much the same flavor of the original, as it uses a parallel storyline structure. There are two puzzles meshed into one story and the success of one group is highly dependent on the success of the other. The main story surrounds Detective Eric Mason (Donnie Wahlberg), as Jigsaw specifically asked for this detective after killing his latest victim. Mason figures out Jigsaw’s hideout and brings a SWAT team to capture the suspect. The problem is that Jigsaw, whose real name is John, planned all this from the beginning.

The puzzle is insanely complex and vague. There are eight people trapped in a building that is filled with a poisonous gas slowly being delivered to its inhabitants via the air vents. There are antidotes placed all over the building; the problem is retrieving them in time. The building doors will open in three hours, but the gas will kill everyone within two hours. Each person must find the antidote to survive, unless the police first rescue people from the building. The interesting twist to this plot is that Detective Mason’s son is one of the victims.

The plot sounds typical, but it’s the acting and the overall intensity of the movie that make it unique. The movie would be nothing without the creepiness of Tobin Bell. He makes you so uncomfortable that you never can trust the man, even though he is dying of cancer and seems as harmless as any old man can be. Combine that with the brashness of Donnie Wahlberg, who is anything but calm and collected. Wahlberg does well to make the situation seem hopeless, simply because of his own desperate outlook.

The costumes and the makeup in the film force you to be even more uncomfortable as they make the decrepit surroundings look amazingly real. Without them, this would just be an average thriller, but with them, the movie is not only believable, but may also be conducive to nightmares. If you’re looking for a film that will keep you guessing and keep you on your toes, this is the one. But be forewarned, this movie is not for the weak of heart; it is quite gruesome. The violence and gore are all too real. It also requires quite a bit of knowledge of the first “Saw” because the film builds heavily on the original. But if you have all the pre-requisites, don’t hesitate to watch because it will entertain the living daylights out of you.