Saw II (2005)

(In theaters, October 2005) While no classic, the original Saw at least played with a very unnerving idea: The thought that someone could put you in a situation where your only chance at survival would be to do extreme violence to yourself. Simple idea, fairly well executed despite a number of misfires. Unfortunately, the shell of this concept seemed to have been lost in this sequel, which ignores the horror of puzzle boxes to instead rely on a bunch of fairly unlikeable people thrown together as for an extra-gory reality TV show. The murderer is once again an all-knowing, all-powerful villain: his unlikely influence on the events is a bit too much to consider seriously. Overall, the film sputters without much of a clue: even the end’s climactic mutilation seems more dumb than horrific. (Use mirrors, dude!) Oh well; as exploitation horror sequels go, I’ve seen much worse.

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