James Wan Interview <strong><em>Dead Silence</em></strong>

The director takes on ventriloquist Mary Shaw and her killer dolls!

James Wan and Leigh Whannell created the first film Saw back in 2004; since then, three more films have added to the freaky horror franchise, including the upcoming Saw IV.

But James and Leigh stepped it up a notch during the filming of the first Saw and wrote a movie based on that now infamous doll Jigsaw uses - Dead Silence. When Jamie Ashen goes back to the town of Ravens Fair, he discovers a whole new world; looking for the real killer of his wife, he encounters the ghost of Mary Shaw, a former ventriloquist in the town. Since her death, she and her dolls have been haunting the town; but Jamie realizes she's the key to finding out who murdered his wife.

James spoke with us about stepping back into the directors chair for Dead Silence. Here's what he had to say:

What makes Dead Silence different from the Saw series?

James Wan: Well, first thing, we had a bigger budget to work with. But Leigh and I wanted to still make a movie in the horror genre, but we didn't want to repeat ourselves; we thought it'd be fun to tell this ghost story. To me, Dead Silence is like entering the Twilight Zone.

As a kid, were you always a fan of the horror genre?

James Wan: Yeah, growing up, I loved horror; the first film I saw was Poltergeist, and that's what made me fascinated with getting a horror story right. And Leigh and I always thought how can we creep everyone out with dolls.

When you came up with this concept, did you always want to have Mary Shaw in it, or was there ever a choice to just leave her as the illusion of her there?

James Wan: Leigh and I wanted to make a creepy doll movie, so we felt like if we're going to have dolls and the ventriloquism, we're going to need the ventriloquist. And since we're both huge fans of ghost stories, how perfect would this be to have the ghost of an old ventriloquist. It's so flattering that the doll [from Saw] has become so big, but we always joke about that. That was literally a doll I made with clay in my bedroom back in Australia; everyone took to it in that film.

Is writing a different process than directing?

James Wan: Yeah, that's the great thing about the working relationship with Leigh and I, because we sit down and brainstorm the ideas back and forth. The good thing is Leigh would always write, and he'd act to it; he'd throw it back to me and I'd get inspired to write something else and I'd throw it back to him. It's really been a good process, and one that's been good for the both of us; the directing is all about the creativity and how creative you can actually be. I enjoy both processes.

How did you get Donnie Wahlberg back for this one?

James Wan: We blackmailed him of some nasty things; we told him if he doesn't come back, we're going to release the pictures on the internet. We loved working with Donnie on Saw II and he wanted to work with us again, so it was a no-brainer. He plays the cop into such a fun character, and he's so funny in it.

After two films with him, you may be the person who could get him and his brother, Mark in a film together.

James Wan: That would be fun; I think it'd be a bigger director, but it'd be great.

What are you looking forward to in Saw IV?

James Wan: Expect Jigsaw to come back; I think that's a given. Saw IV is a really tricky one to talk about because we're still putting it together, and we're really leery about giving anything away on the plot. We are trying to bring a few key people back and the good thing is, even though everyone was finished at the end of the third, the good thing about the Saw films is it takes place in so many different timelines, so we'll be playing with having fun in a structural way of telling the story.

Catch all the doll action in Dead Silence in theaters March 16th; it's rated R.