Darren Lynn Bousman Interview

The beauty of death, and Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan in Saw IV?

It's now Darren Lynn Bousman's second go-round as director in the horror series; he takes the reins on Saw III. With all of the crew back for this third installment, along with the main cast (Tobin Bell and Shawnee Smith), he was feeling at home.

But like the second one, there's always added pressure to step it up - and Darren was ready for the challenge. So when we spoke to him last week, he was primed for anything thrown his way.

After a few calls to his home state of Kansas, it was time for me to put him in the hot seat. But before I could sit down, producer Mark Burg walked in and spoke with Darren about a new script he'll be working on called Threshold. In the middle of our chat, I couldn't resist asking Darren about that.

I had previously spoken to writer Leigh Whannell, who had a few questions for me to ask Darren, so I got started with them. Here's how our chat went:

So Darren, Leigh has a few questions he wants me to ask you.

Darren Lynn Bousman: Ok, go ahead.

How can you do these movies without Leigh by your side? Why is Leigh so important?

Darren Lynn Bousman: Yeah, I know. I don't know - f*ckin' Leigh. When we did Saw III, he had so many more scenes that we had to cut out, just because of time; he had one scene, that's probably one of my favorite scenes in the movie, but we had to cut it out just for time wise. Good ole Leigh Whannell.

Was there ever a difficult time on set, before or during shooting, to get over the hump on this particular movie?

Darren Lynn Bousman: Yeah, there were some scenes I was just confident we didn't get - the pig scene; I just thought, 'This isn't right, this doesn't feel right.' I scrapped the entire scene and reshot the entire day. That was probably the hardest thing for me, because there were so many moving parts and so many things happening, and it was an extremely important scene for Angus (MacFadyen). We rushed; this movie was shot in 27 days, 28 days, and that's nothing for a movie. Constantly rushing, and never having enough time to actually think, 'Is this going to work, is this going to work?' You have to get the shot and get on; that has to be the hardest thing doing these movies - the time you don't have.

With everything that's been said about a Saw IV, do you want to be involved?

Darren Lynn Bousman: I want to make sure they don't 'Happy Meal' it or 'bubble gum' it; if they ever decide to make it PG-13, I'd start a petition. If they ever try to cast Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan in it, I'd start a petition. I think these films are raw and brutal, and they have to maintain that; they can't become a parody of themselves. I want to make sure the integrity of this franchise survives.

With the way certain things turn out, there's only a few ways you can take the story; is that the way you want to go?

Darren Lynn Bousman: I want to stay in this genre of risky material, not necessarily horror; there was a movie I was working on for a long time that was one of the most disturbing things I've ever read, and had no violence in it whatsoever, but it instilled a sense of rage every time you read it and got angry.

How hard is it to make a movie like this where it is a horror film, but there aren't jumps and scares at every turn?

Darren Lynn Bousman: This is not a scary movie, it's not supposed to be scary. What this movie is to me is it instills a sense of dread; you just never feel at ease. You just feel sick, and you're waiting for something to happen. So it is hard, because you can't rely on the big scares, and someone jumping out of a closet to create the same type of intensity. But it's also easier; I think what we were going for in Saw III was just the emotional attachment, where you know Jigsaw and you know Amanda, you're so disturbed by what they're doing, it's going to lead to a downfall of some sort. And it's just that 'waiting to happen' and when it does happen, it happens quick. It's just disturbing to look at, all these lives tragically ending. I think that these films - I wouldn't even call it horror, it's not a scary movie, and that's not what we're trying to make. But it's definitely horrific.

So what is Threshold?

Darren Lynn Bousman: It's a project I'm working on; I like the idea of it. If it'll happen, I don't know. It's a cool film - the original film is called Evil Words; it's a little departure from Evil Words. It takes the same basic premise, but goes somewhere else with it. It's a different kind, it's a lot more creepy; it's one of those things that you don't feel comfortable watching it. And those are the types of films I like when you don't feel comfortable. I think my approach to Threshold will be very unsafe, not the commercial approach that everyone will expect. I'm also working on a musical, which is crazy - a rock opera, kind of like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but more extreme, more violent. I directed a stage show about five years ago; it just got off Broadway, and two weeks ago, we shot a scene of it with Shawnee Smith in it. And hopefully, that'll be one of the next films I'll be working on.

What's your reaction when you see a movie like this in its entirety with an audience?

Darren Lynn Bousman: I'm very proud of it, I think it's a stronger film than Saw II, it's a more well-defined movie than Saw II. It doesn't rely on the gimmicks of Saw, and people pick up on that, and some people call that a critique; but I like it, it doesn't really pick up on the massively twist ending, and massive traps. It's more of a story than the other Saw was, and I think that Saw II was gimmicky - it had that twist ending, the crazy traps. This one is not so gimmicky, but I think it's a much better film, and a much stronger film, emotionally.

Now, supposedly, there was an alternative ending; can you talk about that?

Darren Lynn Bousman: It was a lot, and laid out in a much different way; it was a different instrument to end the movie. It was just laid out completely differently, much more disturbing, heroing ending; we really showed the big shot at the end that's only there for a second or two. We stayed on it for about a minute and a half; it was rough. For all the sh*t I've seen in movies, it was by far, the most disgusting thing I've seen. The special effects guys did a great job. But it also left a different feeling to the movie; it left a sense of anger at the end of the movie to how it is now - you actually felt upset. But in the scheme of things, it just didn't work; it left people angry.

Could you pick one trap to put on someone else, what would it be?

Darren Lynn Bousman: I think my favorite trap would be - I love the simplicity and the beauty of, in Saw II, the wrist cut room. It's a very simple trap, and it was very beautiful to look at, with the blood and all that. In Saw III, I love the trap with Dina Meyer - that was a more violent scene, but it's a beautiful scene; that's a great trap. It's more elegant, she looks like an angel hanging there. So if I could use one of them on someone, it'd probably be the angel trap.

Saw III hits theaters October 27th; it's rated R.