Fresh from the shoot, Bousman returns with a few new stories to tell
"There was a scene in this movie that made me regurgitate in my mouth."
That's how Darren Lynn Bousman describes the next chapter in the Saw series. He recently got back from shooting the fourth entry in this hugely popular franchise. He met up with me and a couple of other journalists at Parc Restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard to dish about his latest gory entree, and his experiences making it.
Every possible question was asked. Did he answer them? Not so much. Saw is a mystery, whether you like it or not. And they aren't ready to show all of their cards just yet. Here is how Darren described his new film:
"What I can tell you about Saw IVis this. Everyone thinks we are doing a prequel. We are not. Is Tobin back in this? One hundred percent he is. Is he a bad ass in this one, you bet he is. Is Tobin only in flashbacks? No he's not. Is Tobin Dead? Yes he is. Is Tobin a ghost? No he's not. It's hard to explain. All we can say is watch the movie. If you can get the end of the movie, then you are my personal fucking heroes. I read the script and didn't get the ending. A lot of the actors don't know the ending either. We only gave the ending to Tobin. No one else got it."
Are you curious? I know I am. I might have to see this one in the theater.
Here is the rest of our chat (note - This interview is culled from a couple of different interviews. Most of it is exclusive, but some of it came from the informal roundtables that were also conducted at the time, inside a bar, by a bunch of drunk people):
Darren Lynn Bousman: We are not churning these movies out. We just never stopped production. So, it's not like we have to come back and figure this out. I used to work on the The X Files, and I would have to walk up to them and ask if they knew where this was going. We defiantly know where this is going. It does have an ending. And it is badass. There is a definite conclusion. We figured it out. We found the end. Did I think I was going to come back for IV? No, I thought III would have been the end. For me, at least. III was the end of that story. But there was always envisioned separate stories that were supposed to be going on in Saw. I just happened to take part in the beginning of the next story.
Why did you come back
Darren Lynn Bousman: It was the heap loads of cash that came pouring out of the dump truck they pulled up next to my house. No. What it really boils down to is two things. Unlike starting from scratch, I'd been with this project for two years now. I knew the people involved. I knew the producers. I knew the cast. So it wasn't starting at square one, it was coming directly back into it.
Can you tell me anything that hasn't already made the rounds?
Darren Lynn Bousman: Well, here is a funny anecdote that nobody knows about yet. We're filming the movie, and I wanted something more intense. There was a thirty-minute chunk of film that was kind of boring. I needed something that would make people squirm, and cringe. I went to David Hackle and told him that, in the next four days, we are shooting these scenes that I really don't care about. He agreed that they weren't too good. So I said, lets put a trap there. I called Mark into work on a Friday. I decided I wasn't going to work for the next four days. I was going to put a trap in here. And they were like, "What?" I pitch them the trap, and they think it's a pretty good trap. So I call Hackle on Thursday. I tell him that I need this really complex trap built and done. He's like, "Uh, okay." We took these days that we were going to film and built a trap instead. We built it on Friday to shoot on Monday morning. And its one of the best traps in the movie. It's absolutely amazing. That's why these Saw films are successful. We are continually working on the script. Making it better. Every single Saw film, I am looking at the edit, and I'm like, "oh, fuck. I didn't get this. It would be so great if we had it." Example, in Saw II we have this scene were these guys are hut-hutting it up these stairs. They are walking up there, and it's boring. Someone needs to get their leg or ankle broken. And we were done shooting. I tell the editor that it sucks. He says, "It does suck." I tell him that we need to fix it. So I tell the assistant editor that I need a staircase. I tell him to go build me a staircase. So the assistant editor goes to Home Depot, and for two days he builds this staircase. I get a Panavision, and I reshoot the scene with the assistant editor going up the stairs. He's, like, what? Four foot nine. I put him in S.W.A.T. gear, and we reshot little segments of stuff like that. We got the ankle breaking, and that was never in the script. We don't do normal reshoots were you have two hundred people and a week to film it. We do two-hour reshoots.
How closely are you involved with the editing process?
Darren Lynn Bousman: Every day. I am in there every day. I work on all aspects of the film. The sound effects, the digital effects. A big part of my job is getting the sound mix where it needs to be. I remember last year, I was in the audio booth from eight o'clock in the morning to ten o'clock everyday, screaming, "No, I want it to go down like that!" It was intense. I was in the editing room, and I saw one of the traps go off on film, and I started crying. It was the worse thing I had ever seen in my life. The editor said, "Just give me a day." He went back, he added flash frames. And the sound design. And I was thoroughly disgusted. Sound does so much to horror movies.
How do you keep this franchise fresh?
Darren Lynn Bousman: A lot of sequels fall into the sequel trap. They tell you the same story again, only its different characters doing it. Here is the story of a person doing X, Y, and Z. Then, they just change the character when they come back. It's the same story. It's insulting. Here, you get to know our characters. Not only do we bring back our main characters...We have a lot of surprises this time around. There are going to be a lot of characters returning that you wouldn't expect. But, we bring back the extras. We have the same S.W.A.T. team that was in all of the movies. You guys aren't going to know that. You aren't going to look at them and go, "That's Eric." We have brought everything back. We have people that were leads last year, now they are just extras in the background. Its fun. Anyone who has been in the Saw films, we'll find a place for them to come back. There are some great surprises as to who pops up this year.
There's no chance we'll see Jigsaw in space?
Darren Lynn Bousman: I'm trying to pitch it to them. They turned down Saw III-D. They didn't go for the nudist camp either. I'll let you guys know what the twist is right now. It is Jigsaw and his twin brother. Wouldn't that be pretty lame. If we did that, you all would hate us. We would be letting you guys down. I will tell you this. Everything you have read on the Internet about Saw IV is completely wrong. They were asking me why Saw is successful. I tell them it's a magic trick. When we finish this movie, you are going to email me and say, "I never saw that coming." If you knew Jigsaw was going to get off the floor at the end of I, then maybe we should talk.
Its not a The Sixth Sense type of thing, is it?
Darren Lynn Bousman: Yeah, we have ghosts and shit in this one. No. If we are able to pull off the end like we are planning too, we should blow them all out of the water. This new film is kind of like Saw II. We had to counter Jigsaw in the first five minutes. That was the only way we could do it. Everyone is going to want to know where Jigsaw is. I said the same thing in this film. We have to tell where Jigsaw is right now. Lets answer the question and put it on the table right now, so we can let the story happen. Within the first twenty minutes, you will know were the movie is going. And I don't think anyone is going to get it. Its not some lame ass, "The knife didn't really get his arteries" kind of thing.
How dependant is this series on Jigsaw?
Darren Lynn Bousman: Its more the feeling of it.. He contributes to it. But so do the traps, so does the doll. People laugh about the pig masks, but people are talking about it. What makes Saw? I think it's that disgusting feeling you have when you walk out of the movie theater.
Are you guys doing any special promotional stuff this year for the film?
Darren Lynn Bousman: We're killing people this year, flat out.
Anybody in particular?
Darren Lynn Bousman: Clay Aiken. Did you know my first paying job as a director was a Clay Aiken thing. I was so excited because it was my first job. I went to shake his hand. He dissed me. He looked at me, he looked at my hand, and then he dismissed me.
Maybe you should get him to do a cameo in this movie.
Darren Lynn Bousman: Clay Aiken is in this movie. He's in the lead.
Saw IV opens on October 26th, 2007.