Despite the tagline for Saw V, audiences left theaters last year with only one thing to say: “I can believe how it ends.” But one year and another Saw later, the creators insist that fans will be much happier with the new installment.
“I learned a lot,” says series editor and Saw VI director Kevin Greutert, “because I spent so much time in the cutting room with the previous directors. We’ve talked about all this stuff up and down and the history of movies and horror. So yeah, I had a huge advantage in this film that Darren [Lynn Bousman] and James [Wan] and to some extent David [Hackl] didn’t have so absolutely, I’ve learned a ton.”
Sitting side-by-side, Jigsaw killer Tobin Bell and the immortal Costas Mandylor have nothing by praise for Greutert. “He understands the films, he understands the connecting of the dots and where this potential richness, and that’s great,” says Bell of his new director. “We know the special effects, we know the traps, we know the twists and the turns, or the plot turns, but in terms of shooting the actors in the moments, the camera sees everything, you know, and the smallest moment between two people is giant on the screen. That’s not mechanical, it’s human so a director who can get that from his actors has got a lot.”
“Since [Saw 1], you know he knows every nook and cranny, every frame and it’s easy to trust him,” says Mandylor. ”He’s got a great sense of humor, and we need to laugh once in a while over there cause it gets a little mundane. He’s got a great eye. Tobin’s seen some of the work that he’s done; I haven’t seen anything, but he was great to work with, and Tobin says he’s done a great job.”
Tackling complex moral issues (Saw VI delivers several stabs at the current health care system), writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton seem much more excited with this installment as well as the creative freedom the mythology allows. “The benefit of the Saw world is the fractured time line,” Dunstan says. “We can do anything in that sense. If we really would like to do it, if everyone agrees and is on board with it, there is the liberty. The only boundary is the imagination of the people behind it.”
“You know, I’ve been working with writers, producers, actors who care about the result,” adds Bell. “Not every idea I had is accepted, but it’s a collaborative environment, and that’s been great because I feel that we’ve been able to get more out of that environment than we had. When the script was done, then we start with that script and we try to make it as good as we can. Like ‘Wait, wait, wait, we’ve got an opportunity here. What if we did this? What if we did that?’ and sometimes it’s accepted and sometimes it’s not, for a variety of reasons creative, financial, or time, they can’t do it. I’ve done a lot of films and television, and with the exception of I can recall one moment in Washington DC, and going up to Wolfgang Peterson for In The Line of Fire, there’s a scene with Clint Eastwood and I wanted to change one word and it was major discussion. I can’t remember what the word was, but it was a major discussion. With Saw, it’s been much more like theater where you can work on stuff and can make it better. Depending on the situation, it gets in or doesn’t get in. Darren Bousman was very good drawing on people’s ideas. You know, one actor would have an idea, another actor would have an idea, and say ‘Good! That’s better! Let’s do that!’ That’s what a good leader does.”
And despite Saw’s reputation for extreme blood and gore, the producers insist that they still regularly come to blows with the MPAA. “We have a hard time with them,” claims Burg. “There’s a lot of stuff that we look at and then I complain to them, and say ‘Well, wait a second, did you see the last Rambo movie? What about this, there was a guy who got his head chopped off, and blah, blah, blah. There’s another guy running around with one arm! I can’t do it but he could?!’ It’s a battle. It’s a give-and-take, but I think maybe now we just numb their senses a little bit to the point of ‘great, just do them’.”
“They don’t really give you notes, they’ll just say, ‘We object to these scenes.’ But they won’t say ‘cut this, cut that, cut this’ because it’s that give-and-take. Then you’ll go back, you’ll cut a couple of frames out, give it to them. First, they watch the entire movie, then they watch the individual scenes they have problems with.”
As for the future of the franchise, the filmmakers still plan on going the 3D route. “It’s like once you start a 3D movie, you have to continue. You know, once we do Saw VII, it’s kind of hard for them to go back to 2D,” says Burg, “We have Saw VII; we’re working on a script, so let’s hope that Saw VII turns out well so there can be a Saw VIII.”
But Dunstan has a better idea: “Saw VIII in black and white. [laughs] It’s a talkie.”
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