The blanket of secrecy surrounding "Saw II" has been, up to this point, as impenetrable as any death-dealing, device-laden room ever designed by the series' Jigsaw Killer.
Five different endings were shot in order to confuse any production staff who might let the truth slip; the film's actors have operated under strict orders to reveal nothing more than the bare minimum; advance screenings (typically scheduled weeks in advance to create media buzz) only recently began.
The select few permitted entry into one of the showings also received a letter from the filmmakers asking for their "cooperation." "Like its predecessor," the note from writer/director Darren Lynn Bousman and co-writer Leigh Whannell insists, " 'Saw II' is a suspense thriller whose success with audiences relies heavily on surprises and unexpected twists of plot."
Such extreme measures should help explain the significance of a rare advance interview with the film's star, Donnie Wahlberg. It also gives you an idea, however, of the gory, demented, unapologetic terror that he must avoid revealing with as much precision and care as a man attempting to amputate his own foot.
"Yeah, it's bloodier," the actor chuckled. "It has all the ingredients of the first one. It's easy for people to see the trailer and say, 'OK, there were two people in the house in the first movie, and eight people in the house in the second movie. Wow, big deal.' But there really is so much more to it than that; it's just so delicate that we don't want to tell anybody anything."
|Get your stomach turning early with this exclusive six-minute clip of "Saw II," on Overdrive.|
He is allowed, however, to discuss the film's opening sequence, a startlingly violent scene that snaps the viewer right back into the horrified trance that the first film cast so well. "There's this fiendish flytrap kind of device, sort of similar to the bear trap thing that Shawnee Smith wore in the first movie; it's just sick. And it's not even so much the fiendish flytrap device, so much as where the key is. This guy can get out if he can get to the key, but what he has to do to get to that key is just not good. It's just not good.
"The key is hidden somewhere in his body and he's got to find it," Wahlberg grimaced. "And that's all I'm gonna say about that."
"Saw II" takes place a few months after the developments of the first film. "I pick up where Danny Glover left off, but the difference is that I'm very reluctant to get involved in this case," Wahlberg revealed about his character, a world-weary police detective named Eric Mathews. "I'm not really the most ethical person in the world, and I'm not really in good spirits when this case finds me. Ultimately, I have to come along. I get pulled in."
"Danny Glover was desperate to capture Jigsaw because he wanted to," the 36-year-old star observed. "I'm desperate to capture Jigsaw because I have to."
Suffice it to say that Jigsaw has big plans for Detective Mathews, his supposedly invincible SWAT team and those eight random people pacing around nervously in that dingy, booby-trapped house. "Oh yes, there will be blood," the killer boasts near the beginning of the film, and viewers are bound to often be reminded of the two fingers from the movie's poster as they watch most of the movie between two of their own.
"It's funny," Wahlberg said. "They played one scene last night at this preview party we did. Everyone was doing that, watching through their fingers."
Although the actor might typically get typecast as a tough guy, Wahlberg admitted that he watched the first "Saw" the same way as so many others — in an uncomfortable state of awe. "I don't want to overstate the value of a horror movie, but in many ways the film was sort of groundbreaking. A couple of kids just kind of came up with this idea, and pretty much made it for no money. ... The kids who love [the 'Saw' movies] are the kids who are gonna be making digital films in their garage, editing on the computer in their house. This movie is probably an inspiration for them — but hopefully not to go out and slash people up."
The series has become such a phenomenon that fans were constantly approaching Wahlberg during filming, asking which of the "Saw" trademarks would return. Would Jigsaw still taunt his victims with handheld tape recorders? Would the bathroom make a cameo appearance in the sequel? And, perhaps most importantly: Would the driving scenes still look ridiculously low-budget?
"I did some fake driving," Wahlberg laughed. "It's still fake as hell; some dude was shaking the van. It was pretty funny."
So when you see Wahlberg and his shaky van, feel free to laugh out loud. Because, during the rest of "Saw II," you're bound to find yourself at the other end of the emotional spectrum.
"I don't know, man. It's just a little warped," Wahlberg shrugged, summing up his take on the film's demented, top-secret twists and turns. "You just gotta watch and find out."
Check out everything we've got on "Saw II."
Visit Movies on MTV.com for more from Hollywood, including news, interviews, trailers and more.