Could this this be the end of the franchise? The writer answers the rumors...
Could Saw III be the end of the Leigh Whannell franchise? If you ask the writer and creator, the answer is most certainly 'no.'
However, this might be the last of the series he writes. After much speculation, rumors, and a different feel to Saw III, I sat down with Leigh to ask him how he feels about leaving the writing up to someone else. We also talked about making a video game based on Jigsaw and the games he plays.
Here's what he had to say:
Have you ever thought or has anyone ever come up to you and asked 'what's wrong with your head?'
Leigh Whannell: I don't, maybe I should be worried; but I never really question it. I know what kind of person I am, and I know I'm not one of these true crime fanatics; I have friends like this who are obsessed with horror films. They collect books of homicide photos, and books about The Black Dahlia, they love watching videos of actual deaths. I'm not that person, and I know I'm not that person, because I know people like that. If I were one of those people, I guess it wouldn't bother me either. But that stuff really sickens me; I have a friend back in Australia, who's just obsessed with true crime, and every time I'm over there, he's showing me books of homicide, and mutilated bodies - and I can't take it. For a 'so-called horror writer,' I'm pretty much a wimp; I like my violence to happen in a fictional context. I don't like looking at crime scene photos, and I don't like violence; it upsets me to watch the news. I don't go to Rotten.com and pour over those sick pictures; that's a certain type of person that I'm not. If you look at the violence in Saw, it's very stylized and heightened; it's not realistic in the sense that it's something you can identify with. A jaw trap - to me, that thing looks like a prop from City of Lost Children, something (Jean-Pierre) Jeunet and (Marc) Caro would come up with if they were coming up with a horror film. That's more of where I'm coming from - that very stylized, hyper world.
What is your favorite trap?
Leigh Whannell: Out of all the Saw films, the first one is still my favorite; it has a lot of sentimental value cause I wrote it back when I was in Australia. I didn't know the rules back then, I didn't know what was going to happen; so I think that's always going to hold the number one place in my heart. So if I had to pick a favorite trap, it'd have to be the jaw trap, especially because that scene was the scene James (Wan) and I chose to make the short film out of that, and that led to the whole thing. I also think it's a cool device, so I would pick the jaw trap.
Did you ever imagine three movies to come out of this?
Leigh Whannell: No, and it's funny because even when I was writing the first Saw, I never fantasized about sequels, it was always about the film coming out and getting into Sundance. They were very modest dreams; I wasn't that guy dreaming of riches, and Hollywood. I had modest goals, and to me, even those modest goals seemed out of reach. When I was writing Saw, all I wanted to do was shoot the movie with my own money, and have it get into Sundance - those were my only goals. At the time Pi had just come out, which I love; I'm such a fan of Darren Aronofsky, I just love that guy. I remember you could buy the script in book form, and at the front of the book was a production diary written by Darren Aronofsky, which I used to read every night while I was writing Saw. He was such an inspiration. He was always talking about this goal, this one goal, to get into Sundance - that was it. And so I kind of kept my goals to that, I didn't want to get too far; plus when you keep your goals more at reach, they seem more redeemable. Saw has far surpassed any fantasies I've had about that.
What's your goal for a Saw IV, V, or VI?
Leigh Whannell: I don't really have one; I don't know how involved I'll be in any such sequels. I don't know if I want to; it's starting to feel like I'm painting the same brush. I almost want to see what a new writer that could come in and do - and still oversee it, and be a part of the Saw family, but not the guy sitting down at the desk and typing it.
So are you upset at the way Saw III turned out?
Leigh Whannell: No, I wrote III, and I definitely put a lot of effort into that; I love the way III turned out. I think we've kept the quality up that a lot of horror sequels don't; they sort of descend into this parody of themselves. I think we've managed with II and III to keep the standards up, at least with the fans; in the eyes of the fans, the quality is still there, which is what I care about. So I'm really happy with Saw III; I guess I was talking about any future sequels if they make IV, V, or VI, which they very well may do - we may be looking at Saw VI: Mission to Moscow. I don't know how involved I'd be in those films, but I'd still like to oversee them, and at least like to stick my toes in or dive right in.
Where do you want to see the next film go?
Leigh Whannell: I don't know; the good thing about the Saw films is they have such fractured narratives, I'd almost like to see it go back in time and tell the story of Jigsaw, and how he became Jigsaw - I'd like to see that. It's almost like the Batman Begins story of going back to the beginning; there are so many things, but I'd like to keep up the quality. I'd like to see it take a different turn; I almost feel like these three movies should exist as one story, and then Saw IV should be a completely different story and go back in time, so that they can exist separately - I'd like that.
Do you think you have to have Tobin?
Leigh Whannell: Yeah, I think Tobin's a big part of it; I don't think the Saw films are completely reliant on the Jigsaw character because his philosophy can always exist, if not his character. But once again, if you were to have a prequel, it would require Tobin; and that's one story I'd like to see get told.
What do you think happened to John to become Jigsaw?
Leigh Whannell: To me, when I was writing the first Saw, I was kind of writing out his history; to me, he was a very lonely guy, and lonely qualities to him. And I think he was slightly unhinged already, dissatisfied with the world around him, very intelligent, but really finding no where to put his intelligence; he felt the world around him was so guilty of so many things. Everywhere he looked, he saw injustice, he saw people not appreciating what they have, and people getting so used to creature comforts. And I think this was growing inside him, and the news that he had a cancer was the catalyst to unleashing everything; it was the final straw that broke the dam. And Jigsaw, this alter-ego, this person that had been forming inside him for most of his adult life just burst out; the cancer was the trigger that let that guy loose. And all of a sudden, this guy transformed from John Kramer, this seemingly ordinary guy, to this mysterious figure called Jigsaw, this alter-ego. And I love that, I love that aspect of the character of Jigsaw; and Tobin brought so much to it, I couldn't be more happy with that.
Why don't you think there's ever been a video game based on this?
Leigh Whannell: Video games take a lot of time; even if we started one tomorrow, it wouldn't be out for a few years. But I'd like to see one; I'm a big fan of video games, and I think it would suit him, and I'd love to be involved.
What have you included in the special edition of Saw II?
Leigh Whannell: There's a bit of extra footage that Darren had to cut out, and there's a bunch of extras. There's a short film that Darren made, which I think is always fun; I love getting DVD's where there's earlier short films done by the filmmakers. There's a couple of John Woo, if you get the hard-boiled special edition, there's a couple of short films he made. I love that film school; I actually think DVD's are making the next generation of kids a lot more film literate, because they listen to commentaries, they watch behind the scenes documentaries on these special films, and they're really learning how films are put together. So, they're much more film literate. This DVD has the short, it has a fake documentary that's meant to be a bit of fun, there's some behind the scenes stuff; there's some good stuff on there. I actually think that Saw III is going to make the best special edition, because there's a ton of extra footage, about 45 extra minutes of footage Darren had to cut out. And we also had this guy, Greg Gain - he was the first stills photographer on the first Saw; he came back and shot everything. He was there with a video camera through all the production meetings; he's got hours and hours of footage you could cut - I hope you could - it would be a great documentary showing how a film gets made. Not just the good stuff, but the bad stuff like pulling your hair out, the fights. I remember a fight once with Darren once, and there was Greg rolling on it; I hope that stuff makes it in.
You can pick up the Saw II Special Edition DVD in stores now! Saw III opens in theaters October 27th, rated R.