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Saw II

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Saw II
Saw II poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDarren Lynn Bousman
Produced by
Written by
Music byCharlie Clouser
CinematographyDavid A. Armstrong
Edited byKevin Greutert
Distributed byLions Gate Films
Release date
  • October 28, 2005 (2005-10-28) (United States)
Running time
93 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$4 million[3]
Box office$147.7 million[4]

Saw II is a 2005 horror film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and written by Leigh Whannell and Bousman. It is the second installment in the Saw film series. The film stars Donnie Wahlberg, Franky G, Glenn Plummer, Beverley Mitchell, Dina Meyer, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Erik Knudsen, Shawnee Smith, and Tobin Bell.

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 John Kramer's backstory, providing a partial explanation of his reason for becoming Jigsaw.

After the financial success of 2004's 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. Gregg 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 rewrites of the script. The film was given a larger budget and was shot from May to June 2005 in Toronto.

Saw II was released in the United States on October 28, 2005, by Lions Gate Films. Despite mixed reviews from critics, the film was a financial success. It opened with $31.9 million and grossed $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 Lions Gate's history. A sequel, titled Saw III, was released in 2006.


Informant Michael Marks awakens in a room with a spike-filled mask locked around his neck. A videotape informs him that in order to unlock the device, he must cut into his eye to obtain the key. He sets off the timer and finds the scalpel, but cannot bring himself to retrieve the key and is killed after sixty seconds when the mask closes.

At the scene of Michael's game, Detective Allison Kerry finds a message for her former partner, Detective Eric Matthews, and calls him in. Despite not wanting to be involved in the case, Eric reluctantly joins Kerry and Officer Daniel Rigg in leading a SWAT team to the factory, which produced the lock from Michael's trap. There they find and apprehend John Kramer, the Jigsaw Killer, who is weak from cancer. He indicates several computer monitors showing eight people trapped in a house; including his only known survivor Amanda Young, and Eric's estranged son Daniel. The other victims are Xavier, Gus, Jonas, Laura, Addison, and Obi. A nerve agent filling the house will kill them all within two hours, but John assures Eric that if he follows the rules of his own game, by simply talking with John, he will see Daniel again. At Kerry's urging, Eric agrees in order to buy time for the tech team to arrive and trace the video signal.

The victims are informed by a microcassette recorder that antidotes are hidden throughout the house; one is in the room's safe, and they have the combination with the "numbers in the back of their mind". Xavier ignores a warning note and uses the key provided with the cassette on the door, which fires a bullet through the peephole as Gus looks through it, killing him. They search the house for more antidotes after the door opens, but with no success. After discovering a door, the group travel to the basement where Obi, who is revealed to have helped with the abductions, is forced into a crematory oven to obtain two antidotes. He inadvertently activates the trap and is burned to death before the others can save him, destroying the antidotes as well. In another room, Xavier's test is to go into a pit full of needles and retrieve the key to the door in two minutes, but he instead throws Amanda into the pit and forces her to do it. Pressured, she searches through the needle pit until finally retrieving the key, which she gives to Xavier, but he runs out of time to unlock the door containing the antidote. Throughout the game, the victims discuss connections between them and determine that each has been incarcerated before, excluding Daniel.

Meanwhile, John passes the time with both idle and cryptic chat, eventually telling Eric that his survival of a suicide attempt after his diagnosis is the true reason for his games. Then, he destroys several of John's documents and sketches at Kerry's suggestion, but fails to provoke John. As the tech team arrives, John reveals the connection between the victims: Eric has framed all of them for various crimes.

Having left the others, Xavier returns to the safe room and finds a colored number on the back of Gus' neck. After realizing the answer to the clue, he kills Jonas with a spiked bat for his number after a brief fight and begins hunting the others. Laura succumbs to the nerve agent and dies; after finding the clue revealing Daniel's identity, Addison and Amanda abandon him, but Amanda returns after finding Jonas' body. Addison finds a glass box containing an antidote, but her arms become trapped in the arm holes which are lined with hidden blades. Xavier enters the room, reads Addison’s number, and leaves her to die. Amanda and Daniel find a tunnel in the safe room, which leads to the bathroom from the first film. Daniel collapses inside just before Xavier finds them. Amanda notes that he cannot read his own number, so he cuts a piece of the back of his neck off. As he approaches Amanda as an attempt to kill her, Daniel, who feigned his collapse, jumps in the way and slashes his throat with a hacksaw, killing him.

Having seen Xavier chasing his son, Eric brutally assaults John and forces him to lead him to the house. John's sitting area is revealed to be an elevator, which they use to leave the factory. The tech team tracks the video's source and Rigg leads his team to a house, where they find VCRs playing previously recorded images. As Kerry realizes the game took place "before" they found John, the timer expires and a large safe opens, revealing Daniel bound and breathing into an oxygen mask. Eric enters the house alone and eventually locates the bathroom, where he is attacked by a pig-masked figure. He awakens shackled at the ankle to a pipe, and a tape recorder left by Amanda reveals that she is John's accomplice and intends to continue his work after he dies. Amanda suddenly appears in the doorway, and yells "Game Over" before sealing the door, leaving Eric to die.



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 Saw's successful opening weekend a year earlier.[5] Producers needed a script for a sequel [6] but James Wan and Leigh Whannell, 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.[7] 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,[8] 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.[8]

Whannell polished the script, with input from Wan,[9] in order to bring it into the Saw universe,[6] but kept the characters, traps and deaths from The Desperate script.[10] 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".[7] 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.[11]

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.[12] Reportedly, "four or five" alternate endings were shot in order to keep the ending a surprise.[9] 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".[13] 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.[14]

Filming and post-production[edit]

Saw II was given a larger production budget of $4 million,[15] compared to Saw's budget of a little over $1 million.[16] The marketing budget was an additional $2 million.[17] The first shot, which involved shooting police cars and a SWAT van driving around the industrial docklands outside the soundstage,[18] was filmed on April 29, 2005 in Toronto. After two months of pre-production,[10] principal photography took place over 25 days at Toronto's Cinespace Film Studios from May 2, 2005 to June 6, 2005.[18][19][20] The ending was filmed on May 25 and 26.[21] The music and sound was recorded in July and Saw II was locked on July 16. It was completely finished by September 9.[20] Visual effects were performed by C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures and post-production services were provided by Deluxe.[9]

Trap designs[edit]

David Hackl, the film's production designer, took three weeks to construct 27 sets on a single sound stage.[9] 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.[22] 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.[23]

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.[24][25]

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 visualized 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.[26]


Saw II: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedOctober 25, 2005 (2005-10-25)
LabelImage Entertainment
Various Artists chronology
Saw: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Saw II: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Saw III: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

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.[28]

1."Irresponsible Hate Anthem (Venus Head Trap Mix)"Marilyn Manson3:39
2."Sound Effects and Overdramatics"The Used3:28
3."Forget to Remember"Mudvayne3:33
5."Blood (Empty Promises)"Papa Roach2:56
6."REV 22:20 (REV 4:20 Mix)"Puscifer4:47
8."Rodent (Ken "Hiwatt" Marshall/DDT Mix)"Skinny Puppy5:00
9."Burn the Witch (UNKLE Variation)"Queens of the Stone Age3:04
  • Shaun Bivens
  • Tony Providence
  • Allen Richardson
A Band Called Pain3:43
11."Three Fingers"Buckethead and Friends & Saul Williams3:00
12."Home Invasion Robbery"The Legion of DoomThe Legion of Doom4:10
13."Caliente (Dark Entries)"Revolting Cocks, Gibby Haynes & Al Jourgensen4:28
14."Step Up"Opiate for the Masses3:24
15."Don't Forget the Rules"Charlie ClouserCharlie Clouser5:00
Total length:54:46


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, representing the Roman numeral, II, was rejected by the Motion Picture Association of America.[29] 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; Lions Gate Films removed the poster from their websites.[30] 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.[31][32]

Home media[edit]

Saw II was released on DVD, VHS, and Universal Media Disc on February 14, 2006 through Lions Gate 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 Lions Gate's history.[33]

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.[34][35]


Box office[edit]

Saw II opened with $31.7 million on 3,879 screens across 2,949 theaters.[36] The three-day Halloween opening weekend set a Lions Gate record. It became at the time, the widest release for Lionsgate and one of the best opening weekends for a horror sequel.[37] For its second weekend it fell 47% making $16.9 million.[38] 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.[39] Opening to $1.3 million on 173 screens it was the number one film in Australia.[40] 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.[4] The film is the 2nd highest-grossing film of the Saw series, only behind Saw III and Lionsgate's fourth highest-grossing film in the United States and Canada.[41][42] 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.[43]

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

Critical response[edit]

The film received generally mixed reviews from critics, who praised the acting, particularly the performances of Bell and Wahlberg, while criticizing the gruesome nature of the story. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 37% of 122 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 4.59/10. 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."[44] 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, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[45]

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".[46] 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".[47]

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".[48] 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".[49] 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".[50]


Tobin Bell was nominated for "Best Villain" at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards for his role as Jigsaw,[51] though the award went to Hayden Christensen for his role as Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.[52]

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 Acards Best Villain Tobin Bell Nominated
Saturn Award Best DVD Special Edition Release Nominated
Best Horror Film Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Scream Donnie Wahlberg Nominated
Choice Movie: Thriller Nominated


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External links[edit]