Saw II

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This article is about the horror film. For the video game, see Saw II: Flesh & Blood.
Saw II
Saw II poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Produced by Gregg Hoffman
Mark Burg
Oren Koules
Screenplay by Darren Lynn Bousman
Leigh Whannell
Starring Donnie Wahlberg
Franky G
Glenn Plummer
Beverley Mitchell
Dina Meyer
Emmanuelle Vaugier
Erik Knudsen
Shawnee Smith
Tobin Bell
Music by Charlie Clouser
Cinematography David A. Armstrong
Edited by Kevin Greutert
Production
company
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release dates
  • October 28, 2005 (2005-10-28)
Running time 92 minutes
Country Canada
United States
Language English
Budget $5 million[1]
Box office

$152,925,093 (worldwide)

$44.8 million (DVD sales)[1]

Saw II is a 2005 Canadian-American[2] horror film, a sequel to 2004's Saw and the second installment in the seven-part Saw franchise, directed and co-written by Darren Lynn Bousman. Co-written with series creator Leigh Whannell who wrote and starred in the first film, it stars Donnie Wahlberg, Franky G, Glenn Plummer, Beverley Mitchell, Dina Meyer, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Erik Knudsen, with Shawnee Smith, and Tobin Bell. Smith, Bell and Meyer are the only actors to reprise their roles from the first film.

The film features Jigsaw being apprehended by the police, but trapping the arresting officer in one of his own games while showing another "game" of eight people — including the officer's son — in progress on TV monitors at another location. It also explores some of Jigsaw's backstory, providing a partial explanation of his reason for becoming Jigsaw.

After the financial success of Saw, a sequel was immediately green-lit. Leigh Whannell and James Wan were busy preparing for their next film and were unable to write or direct. Bousman wrote a script called "The Desperate" before Saw was released and was looking for a producer but many studios rejected it. Hoffman received the script and showed it to his partners Mark Burg and Oren Koules. It was decided that, with some changes, it could be made into Saw II. Whannell became available to provide re-writes of the script. The film was given a larger budget and was shot from May to June 2005 in Toronto.

Saw II was released on October 28, 2005 and, despite negative reviews from critics, was a financial success, with opening takings of $31.9 million and grossing $88 million in the United States and Canada. It has remained the highest grossing Saw film in those countries. Bell was nominated for "Best Villain" at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards for his role as Jigsaw in the film. Saw II was released to DVD on February 14, 2006 and topped charts its first week, selling more than 3 million units. At the time, it was the fastest-selling theatrical DVD in Lionsgate's history.

Plot[edit]

Police informant Michael Marks awakens to find a spike-filled mask locked around his neck. He is informed by videotape that he has one minute to retrieve the key from behind his eye with a scalpel, but he cannot bring himself to do so and is killed when the mask closes. Detective Allison Kerry calls Detective Eric Matthews to the scene when a message for him is found. Initially reluctant to become involved with the case, Eric joins Kerry and Sergeant Daniel Rigg in leading a SWAT team to an abandoned factory. There they find the Jigsaw Killer, John Kramer, who is weak from cancer, as well as computer monitors showing eight people, including Daniel, Eric's estranged son, and Amanda Young, the only known survivor of a Jigsaw game. They have two hours before the nerve agent filling the house they're trapped in kills them, but Kramer assures Eric he'll find Daniel in a "safe, secure state" if he simply talks with him alone. Pressured by Kerry, Eric reluctantly agrees in order to buy time for the police tech team to arrive and track the video signal.

The victims - Daniel, Amanda, Xavier, Jonas, Addison, Laura, Obi, and Gus- are told by microcassette recorder that antidotes are hidden throughout the house. One of them is in the room's safe, the combination to which is "at the back of their minds" and the order found "over the rainbow". Despite a warning note, Xavier attempts to use a key on the door, and a bullet is fired through the peephole, killing Gus. After the timer expires, the door opens and the group proceeds to the basement. A tape for Obi reveals that he helped kidnap the others, which is confirmed when Laura recalls her abduction. Obi inadvertently activates the furnace while attempting to retrieve two antidotes, and is burned alive before the others can help him. Later, Jonas leads Daniel, Amanda, and Laura to a room that Xavier and Addison break into, which houses an antidote behind a steel door and a syringe-filled pit containing the key. Xavier, the intended victim, throws Amanda into the pit instead. She manages to retrieve the key, but Xavier fails to unlock the door in time and abandons the group out of frustration.

Meanwhile, Kramer passes the two hours with both idle and cryptic conversation with an increasingly frustrated Eric. Kramer eventually reveals the motive behind his "games": after learning he had cancer he attempted suicide by driving off a cliff but survived and found a new appreciation for life; with the time he has left, he hopes to inspire the same appreciation in others, by testing their will to live. When the tech team arrives, Kramer reveals that all the current victims, aside from Daniel, were framed by Eric for various crimes, and should his identity be discovered Daniel will be in great danger. At Kerry's suggestion, Eric destroys several of Kramer's documents and sketches, though Kramer doesn't appear to care at all.

In the safe room, Xavier discovers a colored number on the back of Gus's neck and realizes that one number from the combination is written in colored ink on the back of each of their necks. Now desperate for an antidote, he kills Jonas and begins hunting the others. Laura succumbs to the nerve gas, having been more affected than the others, and Amanda and Addison abandon Daniel after learning his identity, though Amanda returns after finding Jonas's body. Addison finds a room with a glass box containing an antidote, but her arms become trapped in the razor blade-lined sockets, and Xavier leaves her to die after reading her number. Amanda and Daniel flee to the safe room and find a tunnel that leads to the bathroom from the first film, which still houses Lawrence Gordon's severed foot and the corpses of Adam Stanheight and Zep Hindle. Daniel collapses inside just before Xavier finds them. Amanda points out that he can't read his own number, and he cuts the skin from his neck. As he moves to kill them, Daniel slashes his neck with a hacksaw, having feigned collapse.

Having seen Xavier chasing Daniel, Eric assaults Kramer and forces him to take him to the house. Kramer's sitting area turns out to be an elevator, which they use to leave the factory. The tech team tracks the source of the video to a similar but different house, where Rigg and his SWAT team finds VCRs playing previously recorded images, revealing that the events in the gas house took place before they raided the factory. The factory's timer expires and a large safe opens, inside which Kerry finds Daniel bound and breathing into an oxygen mask. Unaware of any of this, Eric enters the house alone and eventually locates the bathroom, where he is attacked by a pig-masked figure. He awakens to find himself shackled at the ankle to a pipe, and a microcassette recorder beside him reveals that Amanda has become Kramer's protege. She appears in the doorway and seals the door, leaving Eric to die. Outside, Kramer hears Eric's screams and slowly forms a smile.

Cast[edit]

For more details on the cast and characters, see List of Saw cast members and List of Saw characters.

Production[edit]

Development and writing[edit]

The original teaser poster showing two bloody severed fingers that was banned by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Saw II was immediately green-lit after 2004's Saw successful opening weekend.[3] Producers needed a script for a sequel [4] but James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the director and writer of Saw, were working on Universal Pictures's Dead Silence. Music video director Darren Lynn Bousman had just completed a script for his first film The Desperate, and was trying to sell it to studios but was getting reactions that the script was very similar to Saw. A German studio eventually approached him with an offer to produce the film for $1 million. Just as they were looking for a cinematographer, the American cinematographer David A. Armstrong, who had worked on Saw, arrived on the scene and suggested showing the script to Saw producer Gregg Hoffman.[5] Hoffman read the script and called Bousman wanting to produce "The Desperate". After Hoffman showed the script to his partners Mark Burg and Oren Koules,[6] the two decided that "The Desperate" was the starting script they needed for Saw II and two months later, Bousman was flown to Toronto to direct.[6]

Whannell polished the script, with input from Wan,[7] in order to bring it into the Saw universe,[4] but kept the characters, traps and deaths from "The Desperate" script.[8] Bousman said, "But you could read the script for "The Desperate" and watch Saw II, and you would not be able to draw a comparison".[5] Wan and Whannell also served as executive producers. All the previous film's crew members returned: editor Kevin Greutert, cinematographer Armstrong, and composer Charlie Clouser. This was to be Hoffman's last film. He died unexpectedly on December 4, 2005.[9]

Only those key cast- and crew-members who were involved in the film's ending were given the full script; the rest received only the first 88 pages. If a particular page was rewritten, the old page was shredded. Members were also required to sign confidentiality agreements requiring them not to release any plot details.[10] Reportedly, "four or five" alternate endings were shot in order to keep the ending a surprise.[7] Bousman gave the actors freedom to change dialogue in the script. He said that 95% of the time the actors went by the script, with about 5% being adlibs, which he said "made all of the difference in the world".[11] Hoffman said in an interview with Fangoria that they listened to fans' suggestions. For instance, instead of only showing the aftermath of a character violently dying in a flashback, they would allow it to unfold as it happened. This was in contrast to Saw, in which most of the violence was implied off-screen.[12]

Filming and post-production[edit]

Saw II was given a larger production budget of $4 million,[13] compared to Saw's budget of a little over $1 million.[14] The marketing budget was an additional $2 million.[15] The first shot, which involved shooting police cars and a SWAT van driving around the industrial docklands outside the soundstage,[16] was filmed on April 29, 2005 in Toronto. After two months of pre-production,[8] principal photography took place over 25 days at Toronto's Cinespace Film Studios from May 2, 2005 to June 6, 2005.[16][17][18] The ending was filmed on May 25 and 26.[19] The music and sound was recorded in July and Saw II was locked on July 16. It was completely finished by September 9.[18] Visual effects were performed by C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures and post-production services were provided by Deluxe.[7]

Trap designs[edit]

David Hackl, the film's production designer, took three weeks to construct 27 sets on a single sound stage.[7] The puppet Billy, used in the series to give instructions to Jigsaw's victims, was originally created by Wan out of paper towel rolls and papier-mâché. Given the larger budget for the sequel, Billy was upgraded with remote-controlled eyes and a servo-driven mouth.[20] In one trap, "The Needle Room", Smith's character Amanda is thrown into a pit of needles to find a key. In order for this to be done safely, four people, over a period of four days, removed the needle tips from syringes and replaced them with fiber optic tips. They modified a total of 120,000 fake needles. However, this number was insufficient and the pit had to be filled with styrofoam and other materials to make it appear to have more needles. The needles that were apparently stuck into Smith were actually blunted syringes stuck into padding under her clothing. For certain shots, a fake arm was used.[21]

Saw II was Bousman's first feature film.

Bousman came up with an idea whereby a character's hands would get stuck in some sort of vessel and this resulted in the "Hand Trap". It proved to be a challenge but after much discussion, Hackl, property master Jim Murray and art director Michele Brady came up with a suitable design. They arranged a glass box suspended by chains from the ceiling which contained a hypodermic needle with the antidote and which had two hand-holes on the underside. As soon as Vaugier's character Addison put her hands into the holes razor blades would close in on her hands and any attempt to withdraw from the trap would cause her to bleed to death. In order for the trap to be used safely, the prop builders made the handcuffs move inside the box and fake blades that would retract from the actress's hands, thus allowing her to slide her hands out. Hackl subsequently commented that the character did not have to put her hands into the trap as there was a lock with a key on the other side box that would have opened the contraption.[22][23]

The original idea for the "Furnace Trap" came from the house having been a crematorium at some point, but this would have involved turning the house into a funeral parlor, so it was instead decided that the furnace would be part of the house's boiler system. The furnace was visualised in the form of a computer model so that Bousman could better understand how shots could be filmed. Using the computer model as a guide, the furnace was constructed in three days using cement board and tin with removable sides and top so Timothy Burd (Obi) could be filmed crawling inside. The furnace produced real flames and, in place of Burd, a stunt man using a fire-retardant gel crawled into the fire.[24]

Release[edit]

Saw II was released in New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom on October 28, 2005; and November 17, 2005 in Australia. The original teaser poster showing two bloody, severed fingers was rejected by the Motion Picture Association of America.[25] Since the poster was already released and managed to "slip by" the MPAA, they issued a release stating the poster was not approved and was unacceptable; Lionsgate removed the poster from their websites.[26] The image was used instead for the film's soundtrack cover.[27] Lionsgate held the second annual "Give Til It Hurts" blood drive for the Red Cross and collected 10,154 pints of blood.[28][29]

Soundtrack[edit]

Further information: Saw II (score)
Saw II: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released October 25, 2005
Genre Industrial metal, heavy metal, alternative metal
Length 54:46
Label Image Entertainment
Various Artists chronology
Saw: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack; (2004) Saw II: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack; (2005) Saw III: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack ; (2006)

The Saw II soundtrack was released on October 25, 2005 by Image Entertainment.[27] The video for "Forget to Remember" was also directed by Bousman.[30]

Track listing

Home media[edit]

Saw II was released on DVD, VHS and Universal Media Disc on February 14, 2006 through Lionsgate Home Entertainment. The DVD debuted as number one selling 2.5 million units in its first day. It went on to sell 3.9 million units its first week, becoming the fastest selling theatrical DVD in Lionsgate's history.[31] On October 24, 2006, an Unrated Special Edition was released, while an Unrated Blu-ray edition was also released with various special features on January 23, 2007.[32][33]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Saw II opened with $31.7 million on 3,879 screens across 2,949 theaters.[34] The three-day Halloween opening weekend set a Lionsgate record. It became at the time, the widest release for Lionsgate and one of the best opening weekends for a horror sequel.[35] For its second weekend it fell 47% making $16.9 million.[36] The film was closed out of theaters on January 5, 2006 after 70 days of release.

Saw II opened in the United Kingdom with $3.8 million on 305 screens, 70% larger than the first instalment. It opened in Japan on 67 screens with $750,000.[37] Opening to $1.3 million on 173 screens it was the number one film in Australia.[38] The film grossed $87 million in the United States and Canada and $60.7 million in other markets for a worldwide total of $147.7 million.[39] The film is the highest-grossing film of the Saw series and Lionsgate's fourth highest-grossing film in the United States and Canada.[40][41] According to CinemaScore polls, 53% of the audience were males under 25 years of age. The poll also indicated that 65% of the audience were familiar with the first film.[42]

Release date
(United States)
Budget
(estimated)[39]
Box office revenue[39]
United States/Canada Other markets Worldwide
October 28, 2005 $4,000,000 $87,039,965 $60,708,540 $147,748,505

Critical reviews[edit]

The film received generally mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 35% of 116 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 4.6 out of 10. The site's consensus was, "Saw II is likely to please the gore-happy fans of the original, though it may be too gruesome for those not familiar with first film's premise".[43] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 40 based on 28 reviews.[44]

Robert Koehler of Variety gave the film a negative review, saying "cooking up new Rube Goldberg torture contraptions isn't enough to get Saw II out of the shadow of its unnerving predecessor".[45] Gregory Kirschling of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B minus, saying "Saw II is just barely a better B flick than Saw" and that both films are "more clever and revolting than they are actually chilling". He praised Bell's performance as Jigsaw, saying "As the droopy-lidded maniac in the flesh, Tobin Bell is, for all the film's gewgaws, Saw II's sturdiest horror, a Terence Stamp look-alike who calls to mind a seedy General Zod lazily overseeing the universe from his evildoer's lair". He ended his review: "Where Saw II lags behind in Saw's novelty, it takes the lead with its smoother landing, which is again primed to blow the movie wide open, but manages a more compelling job of it than the original's cheat finish".[46]

Kevin Crust of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, calling Saw II a "worthy follow-up to its grisly predecessor". He said the story was "much more focused on an endgame than the original film. There are fewer credibility gaps and there are plenty of reversals to satisfy fans". He criticized the use of numerous flashbacks, saying that it "rob[s] us of the pleasure of actually remembering for ourselves".[47] Laura Kern, writing for The New York Times, gave it a mixed review, saying that Bousman "delivers similar hard-core, practically humorless frights and hair-raising tension, but only after getting past a shaky beginning that plays more like a forensics-themed television show than a scary movie" and called Greutert's editing "crafty". She called the sequel "more trick than treat" and that it "doesn't really compare to its fine predecessor - though it still manages to be eye-opening (and sometimes positively nauseating) in itself".[48] Empire's Kim Newman gave the film three out of five stars. He said that the film improves upon Saw's "perverse fascination with Seven-style murders and brutally violent puzzles" and that Jigsaw's intellectual games make "Hannibal Lecter look like the compiler of The Sun's quick crossword". He ended his reviews saying, "Morally dubious it may be, but this gory melange of torture, terror and darkly humorous depravity appeals to the sick puppy within us all".[49]

Accolades[edit]

Tobin Bell was nominated for "Best Villain" at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards for his role as Jigsaw,[50] though the award went to Hayden Christensen for his role as Darth Vader in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.[51]

Award Category Recipient(s) Result
Directors Guild of Canada Outstanding Sound Editing - Feature Film Rob Bertola; Tom Bjelic; Allan Fung; Mark Gingras; John Laing; Paul Shikata; John Douglas Smith Nominated
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Villain Tobin Bell Won
MTV Movie Awards Best Villain Tobin Bell Nominated
Saturn Award Best DVD Special Edition Release Nominated
Best Horror Film Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Movie - Choice Scream Donnie Wahlberg Nominated
Movie - Choice Thriller Nominated

References[edit]

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External links[edit]