Saw II (2005)
One of last year's most pleasant surprises (at least when it comes to the not too spoilt genre of horror) was the exhilaratingly ruthless jigsaw horror film Saw. Made by the highly talented newcomers James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the film had a rawness and edge to it that I hadn't seen for a long time in horror filmmaking. Of course, the sequel was just around the corner; Saw II is a fuse between an original idea by writer/director Darren Lynn Bousman and Leigh Whannell's penning to make it work as a follow-up to the 2004 movie. The result is close to the original in spirit, and quite effective.
However, what I felt was one of the greatest strengths with Saw, was the meticulously delicate build-up of the unique premise - placing Cary Elwes and Leigh Whannell in their positions and letting them work out the situation by themselves. It was with this scene (and others like it) that Saw really got to your spine - depicting desperation overwhelmingly effective. Bousman's film lacks (or fast-forwards) this part, and suffers clearly from it. Like many sequels, it makes the mistake of skipping important build-up, thus failing to create its own identity and universe. Instead, Saw II becomes the very resembling, less gifted adopted child of the original.
With that said, Bousman shows talent in his directing. After a somewhat messy and dramatically unimpressive start, the film picks up and has some well-assembled puzzles to offer as well as a few nice tricks. The script maintains quite intelligent throughout (though not as inventive as the original, of course) and the wrap-up is not at all disappointing. However, the characters are quite stereotypical and the plot defies logic a couple of times, but you'll have to make a very good argument to claim that this will go high up on the list of the least successful horror sequels.