Following on from the huge success of the first Saw film was going to be a tough task for anybody. Still, original creator Leigh Whannell jumped at the opportunity to continue his story once he had completed work elsewhere, writing alongside director of the sequel Darren Lynn Bousman whilst doing so.
Thus, Saw II was born - and boy did it deliver one of the most memorable and shocking twists in the long history of the horror genre. Given a larger budget - but not too large - of $4 million, there was a lot more to play for in the hopes of delivering a sequel that would do its predecessor proud.
So, what exactly happened in Saw 2?
We kick things off with another deadly Jigsaw trap. Police informant Michael Marks (Noam Jenkins) wakes up with what is called a death mask locked around his neck. With spikes on both the front and back of the mask, he’s told that in his game, he must dig into his eye and retrieve a key that has been surgically placed behind his eyeball. He has just one minute to do so.
Though he will quite clearly die if he fails his test, Michael cannot bring himself to dig quite deeply enough to ensure he can get the mask off. After 60 seconds, the trap rapidly flicks shut, instantly killing him; and here we go again…
We're then introduced to Detective Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) who 'enjoys' a fractured and volatile relationship with his son, Daniel (Erik Knudsen). Though he's supposed to be spending some time with his kid, a confrontation leads to him telling him to go back to his mother's if he's going to be combative throughout his stay with his father.
At work, Detective Matthews is downtrodden and simply wants to focus on paperwork rather than the Jigsaw killer that is still plaguing the city. He’s already tried his best to bring him to justice and failed so for now, he’s happy filing reports.
That is of course until his former partner, Detective Allison Kerry (Dina Meyer) calls for him to come to the scene of the crime in which the aforementioned police informant was killed. There, she shows Detective Matthews a message that has been left by the Jigsaw killer naming him specifically. Whilst he doesn’t want to get involved initially, he finds a clue to Jigsaw's location thanks to the lock involved in Michael's trap.
Detective Matthews and Kerry join Officer Daniel Rigg (Lyriq Bent) in leading a SWAT team to the factory where the lock was made and there, they find the Jigsaw Killer himself, John Kramer (Tobin Bell) - but not before a couple of their officers fall due to traps surrounding the factory’s entrance.
Of course, Jigsaw knew that this moment would come and in fact welcomed it; it was all part of a larger plan. Though he’s apprehended by the team, he remains calm and pushes them towards a group of monitors which show eight people trapped in a house, one of which is Detective Matthews’ son, Daniel. We also see Jigsaw’s only-known survivor, Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith), back in the centre of the carnage.
The six other victims are Xavier (Franky G), Jonas (Glenn Plummer), Gus (Tony Nappo), Laura (Beverley Mitchell), Addison (Emmanuelle Vaugier) and Obi (Timothy Burd), each with their own shady past.
Upon realising that his son is in danger, Kramer assures Detective Matthews that if he follows the rules of his own game, he will see Daniel again, despite the nerve agent filling the house in which he is trapped. In two hours, anyone who hasn't found an antidote within the house by going through their own twisted tests, will die.
Detective Matthews wants to instantly go for the police brutality approach with Kramer, but with his former partner’s urging, he sits down with the mastermind to talk and buy the squad some time in locating the house in which his brutal games are taking place.
It's in this conversation that we learn a little more about Kramer and his strange view on 'saving' and 'helping' his victim through his games. He once attempted suicide after his terminal cancer diagnosis, but having survived due to his willpower to live, he discovered a newfound appreciation for life; one that he believes everybody should share.
Meanwhile at the house…
Our eight 'players' are told that there are antidotes hidden throughout the house, with one right in front of them in the room's safe. A clue on a cassette says that they all hold the combination to said safe in the 'backs of their minds', but it's something that goes right over the heads of everybody involved.
There’s also a key with the cassette, but a note tells the group not to try and use it on the door right in front of them. Ignoring this advice, Xavier and Gus attempt to get out of the room they are in, but when the key is twisted a gun on the other side of the peephole is triggered, killing Gus in seconds. Cue an awful lot of panic from everybody still standing!
Now with the door open, those that remain begin to explore the house for antidotes or even a way out. Xavier finds a baseball bat with nails sticking out of it and tries to smash open a doorway marked as the exit, but finds iron bars on the other side stopping him from making a hasty retreat.
Eventually moving to the basement, another cassette is found in an envelope marked for Obi who has, up to this point, remained silent. Jigsaw reveals through that recording that it was Obi himself who helped capture those now playing the game and, if he was to be successful in his task, he would have to crawl into a furnace and retrieve two antidotes.
Forced to do so by Xavier following his admission of kidnapping the group, he has an easy task in grabbing the first antidote. When he crawls completely inside the furnace and yanks the second one down however, a cable connecting the antidote with the furnace door through which he entered pulls the door up and locks it in place, turning the furnace on whilst doing so.
Fire builds, slowly moving towards Obi and though he sees a nozzle that he could twist to bring an end to the fiery onslaught, he doesn’t brave reaching through the flames to do so. Instead, he attempts to break his way out of the other end of the furnace but, only gets one arm out of the shattered panel before he passes away, taking both antidotes with him.
Another room designed to test Xavier sees a cassette reveal that he is a drug dealer, and so to find the key for a vault that will lock in one minute, he must jump into a pit of needles and search through them, as Jigsaw puts it, “finding a needle in a haystack.” Taking the cowardly way out however, he instead grabs Amanda and launches her into the pit, forcing her to search. She finds the key and hands it to Xavier, but he misses out on unlocking the vault and retrieving the antidote by just seconds.
Xavier’s anger builds and as the group come to realise they’re all been locked up for various crimes - other than Daniel - he decides he’ll go it alone, taking the nail-laden bat with him for protection. It’s at this point he returns to the room in which they all first awoke, noticing a number on the back of Gus’ head.
Remembering the clue that the group was given about all having the combination in the ‘back of their minds’, he realises that he needs to get the number off of every other person’s neck in the house so that he can unlock the safe and claim the antidote. He gets his first opportunity when Jonas enters the same room, to try and persuade him to work with the others so they all have the best shot at surviving.
A fight breaks out and though it looks like Jonas has the upper hand, Xavier picks up the bat and slams it into the back of his head, killing him and leaving him with the bat stuck in his skull on the ground. As he goes off to hunt the other members of the group, Laura succumbs to the nerve agent and dies in one of the hallways.
It’s there that Daniel finds a picture of him and his father who, to his surprise, is recognised by both Amanda and Addison. Revealed to be the cop that fraudulently got each of the convicts in the group prosecuted on shady grounds, Addison decides to go it alone.
She reaches a room where another antidote is ripe for the taking inside a glass box; all she has to do is reach up through two holes big enough for an arm and grab it. In doing so however, she pushes razors upwards meaning that if she were to pull her arms back out of the contraption, they would be torn to shreds.
Screaming for help, she is relieved when Xavier appears. Rather than attempting to smash the box and give her a hand however, he simply pushes her hair aside so that he can read the number on her neck, before leaving her to die.
Having revisited the body of Obi and finding Laura’s corpse, he has just his own number to collect as well as those on the necks of Amanda and Daniel. Hunting the two down, they run through the house with him hot on their heels.
Detective Matthews watches as Amanda and Daniel fight their way through a tunnel from the first room, which leads to the now-iconic dilapidated bathroom from the first movie. We see Doctor Gordon’s amputated foot in the room, as well as Adam’s (Leigh Whannell) body and the hacksaw Gordon used to chop off his foot. Sensing that they are stuck and at a dead end, Amanda reminds Xavier that if he kills both of them, he’ll not be able to get the number from his own neck.
This pushes Xavier to take a knife and cut the flap of skin containing his number from his body, which he puts into his pocket before moving towards the pair. With his quick thinking however, Daniel moves quickly with the hacksaw in his hand, slicing Xavier’s throat and ending his life.
Having watched all of this go down, Detective Matthews gets violent with John, breaking his finger and throwing him around the warehouse, breaking the rules of his own test in doing so. After much violence, he believes he’s broken John, who says he will lead the detective to the house in which Daniel was seen.
As they race against time to reach the house, the team back at the warehouse spring into action as the location of the ‘games’ is revealed. When Detective Matthews arrives however, he leaves John in the car whilst he goes inside.
Here come the twists...
When the police reach their own location, they realise they’ve got the wrong house and only find a stack of VHS tapes and monitors, playing the footage on a timer. It was all pre-recorded; none of the events taking place were live and it had all already taken place.
Boom. Another incredible twist from the Saw team. But they weren’t quite done…
Back at the warehouse, the timer for Detective Matthews’ game expires and a safe in the room unlocks. Inside, we see Daniel and an oxygen mask, hurt and mentally distraught, but safe.
Meanwhile at the bathroom, Detective Matthews finds Xavier’s body along with those from the original film, but nobody else. Then, he is accosted by a figure wearing a pig mask.
Waking up with one of his legs in shackles, he finds a tape recorder left by none other than Amanda. She reveals through that recording that after she was ‘saved’ by John, she became his accomplice and he would be one of her victims.
Appearing at the door, she laughs and tells Detective Matthews, “game over”. Cut to black and, the credits roll.
Another iconic moment in the Saw franchise.
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- Saw II revisited: The twists that shaped the future of the franchise
- Saw III revisited: A test within a test... within a test
- Saw IV revisited: A new Jigsaw Killer rises
- Saw V revisited: The walls are closing in
- Saw VI revisited: The beginning of the end
- Saw VII aka Saw 3D aka Saw: The Final Chapter revisited
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