Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Saw II (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Xavier returns to the safe room, trying in vain to open the safe until he notices a number tattooed on the back of Gus' head. Jigsaw's clue from the first tape plays in his mind, as the proverbial light bulb goes off over his thick skull. He kills Jonas and gets the number off his neck, taking off after the rest of the survivors.

They're across the house, Laura finally finding the X Jigsaw mentioned way back when on a picture frame. Addison looks behind it to find a picture of Matthews and Daniel, confronting him over this but Laura has the courtesy to break up the tension by dying. Now THAT'S how you change an awkward subject! Addison decides she can't trust anyone and takes off on her own. Xavier gets the number off Obi's remains while Amanda discovers Jonas' body and drags Daniel to safety.

I can't help but wonder what the point of this little plot was, as Jigsaw said when they found 'X' it'd help them all realize why they're there. Sure, Matthews arrested all of them but how it THAT going to help? All it's going to do is make them turn on Daniel and probably try to kill him, which is VIOLENTLY counterproductive to Jigsaw's master plan. I guess since Jigsaw can anticipate everyone's decisions in perfect detail he knew by the time it was discovered most of them would be dead and it wouldn't matter, but still it seems like an odd thing to leave hanging out there.

Laura's number is next on Xavier's list, where he also discovers the picture outing Daniel as Matthews' son. Fuel on the fire there. On the monitors Matthews watches all this unfold until he snaps, grabbing a gun and beating the living hell out of Jigsaw. Once more back to the house, as Addison happens to find another room that's unlocked with a glass box hanging from the ceiling with a syringe inside.
This is the Razor Box, another fan favourite, so named for reasons we'll discover in a moment. There are two holes in the bottom of the box, Addison sticking her hands through to grab the syringe. Things go instantly wrong as the flaps covering the holes are revealed to be giant razor blades, cutting into her arms the more pressure she exerts trying to pull her arms out. Her cries for help alert Xavier, who reads the number on her neck and leaves her to bleed to death.

Jigsaw finally submits to Matthews' relentless beating, saying he'll take him and ONLY him to Daniel. Matthews', continuing the franchise's already questionable portrayal of intelligent cops, agrees and sneaks him out via a hidden elevator. The SWAT team tries to stop them, but they're out on the road before they even leave the factory.

Meanwhile SWAT technicians finally manage to backtrack the signal where the monitor feed is broadcasting from, Rigg and his team departing for the destination. What's the over/under on both these locations being the same place? Amanda and Daniel have holed up in the safe room, Xavier outside and trying to beat his way in. Amanda notices Jonas' blood is draining through a crack in the floor, realizing there's a trap door in the floor. She finds it locked, but Daniel remembers Jonas had the key they found with the tape recorder and finds it in his pants pocket. They unlock the hatch as Matthews and Jigsaw pull up outside, Jigsaw giving him a key to use inside the house.

Shots of Matthews slowly moving through the house are paralleled with Amanda and Daniel running through the basement, Xavier chasing behind them. The halls of the basement look VERY familiar if you SAW the last movie, especially when Daniel comments on a horrible smell coming from somewhere nearby.

Rigg and crew also break into the house, buuuuuuuuuut this one looks different than the one everyone else is in. He calls back to Kerry, who reports she can't see him on any of the monitors. Hmm, THAT can't be good! Amanda and Daniel slide open a door and find themselves in the bathroom from the last movie, complete with Adam's withered and reeking corpse still chained to the pipes. To add to what must be the most lovely smell ever, we also see Zep's decaying body lying on the floor. And hey, there's Gordon's severed foot just KICKING IT!


Matthews search brings him to the safe room, going down the open trap door. In the basement, Daniel begins to succumb to the gas as Xavier stomps into the room. He asks for their numbers, Amanda making the odd comment that he doesn't know his own number. How would she know about that? Yeah, he's been shouting out about numbers but there's no way she should know what he means. Xavier considers this as she brings up a great point, so he CUTS THE BACK OF HIS NECK OFF! CHRIST ALMIGHTY! And believe you me, they show as much of this as humanly possible.

He advances towards Amanda, but Daniel wakes up and sneak attacks him, grabbing his knife and slashing his throat wide open to kill him. The SWAT team makes their way through their house, finding another collection of monitors showing the same feed Kerry is watching. That's when Rigg notices a stack of VCRs nearby, hitting pause on one which pauses the video feed. He and Kerry get their own light bulbs, as it dawns of them they've been watching an old recording the ENTIRE TIME.  That crazy Jigsaw, what WON'T he do?

Matthews enters the bathroom but finds only bodies instead of his son. He notices a hand sticking out of the bathtub, approaching it only to find himself ambushed by Pig Mask who stabs him with a syringe. I can't help but notice Pig Mask has a very feminine looking hand... Matthews passes out from whatever he was injected with as back at the factory the three hour time expires.
A nearby safe pops open, Kerry finding Daniel inside with an oxygen mask on his face. WOW! Matthews is going to feel like the biggest fucking idiot in the world when he- oh wait, he's probably not coming back is he?  The detective wakes up on the floor of the bathroom with a tape player next to him, cautiously hitting the play button. Major surprise coming up if you haven't been following any of this, but it's AMANDA'S VOICE that greets him.

“Hello Eric, you probably don't even remember me but you changed my life once. You sent me to prison. I was guilty of a lot of things but not the drug charge you framed me for. You wouldn't know the things you lose when you're locked away. The second time somebody changed my life, I was guilty. But my life was saved that day. I found myself a father, a leader, a teacher. What is the cure for cancer, Eric? The cure for death itself? The answer is immortality. By creating a legacy, by living a life worth remembering, you become immortal. So now you find the tables are turned. It is I who will carry on John's work after he dies. And you are my first test subject. Now you are locked away, helpless and alone.”.

We get the traditional rapid fire montage shots to tie everything together, as we see Amanda was indeed Pig Mask. Matthews finds himself chained to the pipes just like Gordon and Adam were as Amanda walks up to the door, announces it's game over, and slams the door shut. Jigsaw smiling at how well this all worked out over Matthews' screams is our final shot.

Cue the credits.

Different, right? That's to be expected when your sequel is based off a repurposed script, but following up Saw with THIS? And again, this isn't a criticism per se as a lot of people consider this the best Saw movie but this literally jettisons almost everything the first movie was about. Gone is the claustrophobic and intimate manner, the tiny set pieces, the strong focus on characterization, and the incredible restraint on gore while still keeping it shocking. These are the things I will always think of when I think of Saw, a movie that I doubt I'll ever forget.

This movie did the opposite of all of these points, giving us a very fucked up version of And Then There Were None. Not only that, but this is the beginning of Jigsaw's transformation into the most impossibly intelligent villain of all time with infinite money and resources to accomplish his means. The first movie was very down to Earth, as his main victims were people he logically had access to from his time in the hospital.

But here, this is where the script rewrite really shows. How in the world would Jigsaw have had access to all of Matthews' hidden misdeeds, as well as being able to track down all of the people involved in them? Even with the arrests being public record, how would he have found out about Matthews' problems with Daniel? For that matter, WHY did he pick Matthews? This is the problem with establishing logic in the first movie and then just bulldozing over it.

This extends to the plot of the entire movie, as almost all of it was POINTLESS. All of the people except Daniel that Jigsaw, Amanda, and Obi captured were never meant to survive the Nerve Gas House trap, which goes against everything Jigsaw stands for as the first movie set up all of his victims have a CHANCE to redeem themselves. Jigsaw obviously knows the future so he knew all of them would die, but WHAT IF they had survived? He'd just kill them all off for no reason? Wouldn't it just have been easier to capture only Daniel and play out his game with Matthews in the exact same fashion, forcing the detective to watch as his son slowly died from poisoning? It's almost like the rest of the people were there just to fill out the film's run time and try to create some drama!

And how about that reveal Obi helped Jigsaw capture everyone, that puzzling plot thread that went absolutely nowhere? This is actually touched upon in Saw: The Video Game of all places, which boasts a story written by series creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell, officially considered canon in the mythos. There were learn Obi was an arsonist that actively sought out Jigsaw to test him, putting ads in local newspapers beginning to be captured.

Picking apart the paper thin plot aside, it also really didn't help it was so bloody obvious Amanda was in on the entire thing. That's one of this film's biggest flaws, as Bousman didn't trust the audience enough so kept showing her being suspicious just so we'd know what was going on. The only way he could have been less subtle is if he cut to a closeup of her narrowed eyes looking back and forth.

Last on my list is something I allude to earlier, this is where the Saw series began to become all about the traps at the expense of everything else. After Shawnee Smith and Donnie Wahlberg's highly effective performance as a regret filled father, they were the true star of this film. This is nothing to what we're going to see in a few movies, but they got more screen time than any of that messy “characterization” from the first movie. Don't get me wrong, they were very creative and effective, but you can see the ammo being forged for this series getting slapped with the insulting label of “torture porn” juuuuuuuust around the corner.

Taking out Smith and Wahlberg the acting was very subpar, as the majority of this film was centered around cookie cutter red herrings that were all just a bunch of generic characters that could only show anger, anger, and more anger. BUT, getting to some positives at long last, I was interested in what happened to all of them thanks to Bousman's direction. He wisely kept this thing fast paced as possible, keeping the story flowing smooth and balancing out all the different threads that were going on. Even though he showed his cards way too often, I still still riveted to see what was going to happen next and as I've said before, that's one of the best compliments I can give a movie.

The ending was particularly exciting, as all the threads started to merge for some sweet edge-of-your seat action. These are the things that saved the movie and make it a must see if you have even a passing interest in the genre, especially since it's going to go downhill here pretty freaking quick. This pales dramatically when compared to the first movie, but shines like a beacon when compared to the rest as we'll see with the next sequel.

How bad was it? Find out here!