In my opinion, Saw II is where the franchise really took off and turned the series into a cultural phenomenon. The first film only introduced the world to the concept of “do you want to play a game,” whereas Saw II took the game concept to a whole new level.
Eight people are stranded in a house with only a handful of clues to their escape hidden within the complex. Little do they know that the combination to the lock is actually tattooed somewhere on their bodies. Room by room, stupid people will make stupid decisions that will cost one life at a time.
One of the most horrific scenes in the entire saga occurred in this sequel. Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith) is the lone survivor* from the first film and is sort of the ring leader of the misfits in this one. There’s a key hidden in at the bottom of a needle pit, where Amanda finds herself after being thrown in by someone else. It is a few minutes of agonizing pain as she is poked for a hundred needles looking for the key. I can’t stand the blood and guts in most of the films, but this particular scene always makes me turn away because I can’t imagine what that would feel like.
Like the first film, there’s a game involving the local police, who finally captured Jigsaw, John Kramer, played by Tobin Bell. He has the top detective’s kid, and to see him again, he needs to make sure that the game inside the house goes off without a hitch. These interlocking stories are what make the Saw franchise so fascinating. All these stories are so deep and thought-out. Just when you think you know what’s going on, you’ve been misled the entire time, and the ending (although predictable sometimes) takes you for a surprise.
Saw I and II are completely different regarding storytelling, yet the significant themes of the saga moving forward are laid out for the world to see in this second installment. The games where people either choose to live or die became the pillar of dubbed the Jigsaw murders. 7/10