I thought the first Saw was an interesting idea that was executed in an amateur manner. The first time director and writer came up with a great idea but floundered in putting it out there. See my review for further exploration of this idea.
It seems like Saw II suffers from a similar problem. In this case, the good idea of the first film gets reduced to the typical teen gorefest mold.
The Saw films deal with a serial killer who takes those he judges and puts them through a gruesome test to see if they have the will to survive and learn something about their behavior in the process. In the first case it was a (somewhat) intimate look at two men in their struggle for survival. II deals with a group of (mostly) young people who are all screw ups. Also we follow the father of one of the victims who, it turns out, is the real victim being tested.
I think there is so much potential here for a very disturbing and cathartic film however in both cases, the film makers just aren’t up to the game. It would be so fascinating to see what a David Lynch or a David Fincher could do with a story like this. Instead we get a lot of MTV like cuts and effects. The sets are dank, dirty clichés. The actors and their level of performance (in II at least) is ridiculously low.
Instead of an examination of our deepest fears, guilts and nightmares we are instead left with a simple haunted house, who’s going to be left at the end, cheap out. Just because there isn’t a happy ending doesn’t make it deep.
Also, the film hangs on the fact that one of the “victims” isn’t really a victim. She’s in on it and she’s learning to “take over the business.” However it’s so stupidly obvious from the beginning that I can’t believe anyone watching couldn’t figure it out.
Saw and its sequels are a terrible lost opportunity to do something truly interesting. II just confirms that this series isn’t going anywhere.