Darren Lynn Bousman
SAW II has all the ingredients that made the first installment successful—a clever setup, some slick kills, and an out-of-left-field twist ending—but it never does anything with these elements. While it does deliver plenty of atmosphere and gore, there’s absolutely no forward movement to the narrative, no overarching plot threads or character arcs that tie any of the scenes together. Things occur onscreen, but it never feels like anything is happening. Time is spent setting up the “game” aspect of the movie, which had some potential coolness, but all that is abruptly abandoned in favor of non-developed characters wandering around doing things for no reason.
Director Bousman shot a nice-looking flick with some cool visuals, but I’m really not a fan of the meth-addict style of editing. The constant cutting, spastic zooming and confusing segue ways between scenes got annoying pretty fast. Also, capturing the Jigsaw killer in the first few minutes of the movie was a bold move, and it shows that Bousman was trying to do something unexpected with the franchise, which is admirable; however, featuring Jigsaw so prominently destroyed whatever dangerous mystique surrounded him. (Not to mention his “backstory” was completely unnecessary.)
Sure, horror movies aren’t expected to be the cream of the cinematic crop, and I definitely love me some crappy slasher flicks. That being said, SAW II came through on the blood and guts end of the equation (loved the Death Mask opening and the pit of dirty syringes…nice!), but it was otherwise bad on a level beyond cheesy fun.
(If there is one reason to at least rent this movie, it’s to catch our very own John Fallon aka Arrow in the Head, who pops up towards the end in a fearless performance you can’t miss.)
Commentary from Director Darren Bousman and actors Donnie Wahlberg and Beverly Mitchell: From listening to Bousman describe his vision for the movie it seems like he had a definitive and interesting take on this installment of the franchise. It just didn’t seem to translate that way onscreen. Donnie (the other) Wahlberg and Mitchell (who’s quite far from 7th Heaven here) both chime in with recollections from the set, keeping things light and fun. During the opening credits, someone jokes that the Twisted Pictures logo is the best part of the movie, and sadly, they’re not far off.
Jigsaw’s Game (2:56): A quick piece with the director summing up the plot and explaining how each of the character’s in the house has their own trap setup to reflect their personal crimes. (Something that was not apparent at all in the movie.)
The Traps of SAW II (19:52): Each of the major traps gets its own in-depth featurette, complete with initial design plans and behind-the-scenes footage. A nice set of extras covering what is basically the only redeeming part of the movie.
Bits and Pieces: The Props of SAW II (4:34): Exactly what it sounds like, nothing more. You get a look at some of the prosthetics and props used in the film, mainly the nail-bat that is featured throughout. That creepy ass puppet from the first movie makes an appearance as well. I hate that thing. It haunts my dreams.
Storyboards and Conceptual Art: About 10 minutes worth of storyboard-to-scene comparisons. Kind of pointless, since the movie is mostly people standing around reacting to the different traps. Thus the storyboards are—you guessed it—drawings of people standing around screaming.
In addition there’s a Theatrical Trailer, a Gallery of conceptual art, as well as Previews for the first SAW, THREE EXTREMES and TAMARA.
The one truly great thing about the DVD is the various tributes to late producer Gregg Hoffman, especially Bousman’s written remembrance that’s featured on the main menu. Just from hearing Hoffman on the commentary of the previous SAW DVD he seemed like a genuinely nice guy who loved movies like the best of us.