Such successes inevitably mandate a sequel. Saw II is that sequel indeed, became the first of an entire franchise of sequels. Disappointingly for a film that did so brilliantly the first time, Saw II is a generic sequel that rarely ever emerges with any of the sharp effectiveness of the original. Part of the problem can be put down to the absence of the original creative talent. Original writer/star Leigh Whannell is co-credited on the script, but the name of director James Wan is entirely absent. In Wans place is novice director Darren Lynn Bousman.
Alas, Darren Lynn Bousman has little of James Wans ability to evoke tension and psychological dread. Certainly, Bousman copies some of the stylistic pieces of Saw okay, especially the scene that opens the film with a Jigsaw victim having to gouge out their own eyeball but mostly Saw II feels like it is being directed by someone who is a hired gun from the MTV arena whose arsenal is limited to flashy jump cuts and blurred editing. Saw II feels slick and effective but lacks any punches that jolt an audience or creep them out. There are a few killings but nothing that the original held that completely spins around and leaves an audience stunned. (Although, Darren Lynn Bousman certainly pushed the level of gore and sadism in the series to a maximum in the subsequent sequels).
Nor is there anything that comes with the ingenuity that Saw held, excepting perhaps the ending, which holds an undeniable surprise revelation. Although, even that revelation does not make much sense when you trace the logic back why for example would the mole among the party deliberately injure themselves? Saw II certainly changes the set-up of the original. For one, we are given the identity of the Jigsaw Killer from the outset and he remains on screen for the entire running film (a reasonably effective performance from Tobin Bell), whereas in the original his identity was hidden from us entirely. The set-up also tries to expand out beyond the basic concept of the original, which was essentially two people locked in a room and here adds a group of people who are trying to piece together clues in a house. This makes Saw II seem less like Saw than it does another little Canadian gem that became a sleeper hit internationally, Cube (1997). Alas, unlike either Saw or Cube, there is a crucial lack of ingenuity to the clues and games that Darren Lynn Bousman keeps throwing up at us.
Saw II was followed by Saw III (2006), Saw IV (2007), Saw V (2008), Saw VI (2009), Saw 3D (2010) and Jigsaw (2017). Darren Lynn Bousman returned for the first two of these then went onto make other genre entries such as Repo: The Genetic Opera (2008), Mothers Day (2010), 11-11-11 (2011), The Barrens (2012), Alleluia! The Devils Carnival (2015), Abattoir (2016) and St Agatha (2018), as well as the The Night Billy Raised Hell episode of Tales of Halloween (2015).