Horror Marathon: Saw II (2005)

Back into the the Saw franchise, we hop into its direct sequel, Saw II. Where can the film go from the ending of the first? Thats pretty hard to see. Saw II has changed hands to a new director, Darren Lynn Bousman who is pretty green with this being its second full length feature. He however does take the reins for the next two. At least Leigh Whannell is still on as co-writer.

Lets check it out.

Saw II (2005)

Saw 2

Director (&co-writer) : Darren Lynn Bousman

Cast: Tobin Bell, Donnie Wahlberg, Shawnee Smith, Erik Knudsen, Dina Meyer, Franky G, Lyriq Bent

A detective and his team must rescue 8 people trapped in a factory by the twisted serial killer known as Jigsaw.-IMDB

Saw II is a peculiar direction to take. This time, Jigsaw is tracked down by the police and his only request is to have a talk with Donnie Wahlberg’s character, Eric Matthews whose son was kidnapped. As with most Jigsaw games, there is a countdown and this time, the time is ticking on the screen that is projecting where his son is cooped up with a few other people with different backgrounds. However, the familiar face appears here as we see last movie’s escapee, Amanda Young yet again be captured. The countdown turns out to have many meanings however, its main one is that Jigsaw says there is a toxic gas in the air that will kill them all if they don’t escape. The story and concept of this one seems a little cliche at parts and even if this is just the second film, the audience is pretty much smarter than the cast itself however, the true game and tension is in Jigsaw and Matthews chat. Saw II is really average however, the ending does have some clever twists, mostly in the finale.

SAW 2

Its important to talk about the characters here because when the movie finished, I had to think about certain characters and whether it was because the character is written dumb or the acting was lackluster. Perhaps it is the fact that now there are so many more players in Jigsaw’s game that the immersion is stripped from their importance or just our lack of connection to these characters. It sucks that they are in this situation but the key is why are they there more than who they are and even the minute chance that they will escape. Lets just face the fact here. A lot of the characters here engaged in petty arguments and deliberate prejudices and it lacked that natural flow of character development that the first had. The only one we needed to care for was Matthews’ son and Amanda Young. It turned its focus on the contraptions that the characters has to deal with related to their crime that Jigsaw had drawn out for them than the story itself. I honestly don’t believe the Saw was in its spectacles even in the first one. The direction definitely leaves something to be desired. The character that I really disliked the most was somewhat of the “villain” of the whole situation played by Franky G and somehow maybe its because he did capture the role correctly even if it was a very uninspired character.

saw 2

The joy of Saw was in its disturbing mind games and the psychological factor that it had. Sure, it was messed up in whatever Jigsaw contraption because of its extremity however we can already see in Saw 2 that in the hands of someone else the tone has shifted. Even the script is much weaker. The whole experience was still entertaining however it was more in the conversation between Eric Matthews and Jigsaw more than the 8 characters suffering the ordeals in a mystery location that needed to be saved. While the ending twist was quite clever, it didn’t help that getting there wasn’t quite as innovative.

A true shame that we can already see the slow demise of the franchise in this sequel. Maybe, it’ll come back in the third? We can only see since this one ended on somewhat of an open ending.

Have you seen Saw 2? Thoughts? Did you like it more or less than I did?

Holiday Marathon: A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale (2015)

This holiday marathon is going at an exceptionally snail pace but don’t you worry. I am trying to get my Christmas/winter/holidays stuff up here, even if it isn’t holiday movies. To be honest, I kind of just want to go back to the classics and not linger too much on these other movies. However, A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale looks cute to say the least. I mean, pets are always welcome for festival season or any season at that.

A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale (2015)

A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale

Director: Letia Clouston

Cast: Lexi Giovagnolia, Jonathan Bennett, Dina Meyer, Patrick Muldoon, Jennifer Joseph, Timeca M. Seretti, Tim Hess

When spoiled, 21-year old college student Luce Lockhart is forced to take a job over the holidays walking a rich developer’s dog, she is thrilled to discover they are going to build a salon and spa over the quaint local dog park nearby. But when Luce meets Dean, an irritating yet handsome dogwalker actively trying to stop them, Luce is forced to question what the park means to her newfound friends, and whether she can put aside her selfish ways to help save the park before Christmas. – IMDB

 I remember the first time seeing A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale pop up on my Netflix page and wondered what would make a movie like this appealing. Sure, there is the above factors I mentioned. Dogs are always a welcoming addition to any movie. Then the second reason popped up and that is Jonathan Bennett, probably most widely known for his role as the boy in Mean Girls. I love Mean Girls and surprisingly, I have seen a few other movies after Mean Girls of Jonathan Bennett. He’s not my favorite actor but I like his roles and his work. There’s a genuine feeling about him, whether it was in Love Wrecked with Amanda Byne (review) or Christmas Crush with Rachel Boston (review). Adding into a simple story in A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale, it all seems to work out. Actually, regardless of how some parts seem rather contrived at parts, there is still a lot of heartwarming and fun moments.

A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale

A lot of the story’s charm goes to Jonathan Bennett playing as Dean and our main character, Luce who we realize has everything and doesn’t quite understand the need of the dog park. As the story continues, we as the experienced viewers already know that she’s going to be the one that will somehow save the dog park, or at least take it upon her to do it and realize the worth of it by the end. However, the merit of this movie that gives it a lot of feel good points is the journey to get there. The interaction and dialogue and chemistry that builds between her and Dean and even her growing love for these furry friends all play into this. Luce is a flawed character but only these characters can grow, regardless of how predictable it is and actually, this movie focuses on how she yearns for “substance” in her personality and we realize that she does have a lot when she doesn’t only care about shopping but puts her traits to good use. Lessons, message, feel-good, heartwarming and a little romance gives this story a nice little boost.

A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale

Of course, we can’t leave this movie without Missy, played by Dina Meyer who is the employer of Luce and her and her husband, played by Patrick Muldoon, plan on building the spa in the dog park area. The friction is here and the dilemma for Luce starts here as she eventually becomes torn on finding the balance between pleasing her employer as they have powerful positions in society and possibly her future and doing the right thing. But we’re here to talk about Missy Paxton and Dina Meyer does a fine job at giving a lot of enthusiasm and charisma to this character.

Overall, A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale really does need to be taken apart. Its supposed to be just watched as a heartwarming little movie with the best intentions. There are some fun performances and some nice interactions and a little chemistry and lots of furry little pets. As predictable as this all is, the feel-good heartwarming element that a Christmas movie needs is exactly what I needed and liked about this one.