They have secrets they aren't telling us about our favorite horror franchise

It's Saw IV week. You know what that means. We will finally get to see what became of Jigsaw and his apprentice Amanda. By all accounts, they should be dead. But are they? We don't have these answers just yet. So all we can do is speculate until Friday. Personally, I think Saw IV is going to continue the franchise's progressive trajectory. This is one of the few continuing film series that just keeps getting better and better with each passing entry.

It's my strong opinion that this is going to be the best Saw yet. And I can't wait to see it.

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To celebrate the opening of Saw IV, I was invited over to Lionsgate to listen in on a couple of conversations with the Cast and the Producers of the film. The second group we talked to consisted of actors Scott Patterson and Lyriq Bent, along with Producer Mark Burg.

Here's what they had to say in anticipation of this week's biggest release:

This is not Gilmore Girls.

Scott Patterson: Oh, no. This is not Gilmore Girls.

Lyriq Bent: This is the sequel. The See-SAW Girls.

Scott Patterson: This is the sequel I dreamed of many times.

Oh, poor Miss Patty!

Scott Patterson: Have you ever interviewed Sally Struthers? She is, without question, one of the most talented actresses alive. Her comedy is like, "Wow!" It's scary good. Doing a scene with her is like, "Wow!"

None of us have seen the film, so we don't know what to ask you guys about.

Lyriq Bent: We haven't seen it either.

Mark, have you seen it?

Mark Burg: Yeah, I've seen the movie. I'll take it one step further. We have been so secretive about the ending of Saw IV, because we think its that good. Having produced all of the movies, this is far and away my favorite of the four. The story is better, the characters are way more developed. There are three-quarters of the people at Lionsgate who haven't seen the end of the movie. The actors, when we shot it, unless they were in the end scene, didn't know what it was going to be. And then we shot two different ending scenes so that no one would really know. It's been really hard to keep it a secret, but I think we've managed.

Do you worry that keeping it a secret might become too much of a gimmick?

Mark Burg: Well, if the story didn't warrant a great ending, then there wouldn't be the secrecy. With us, we start with the best idea. Where are we going to take the characters? Then, what can we do now? We work backwards a little bit, and put in some twists. Then, at the very end, we figure out the traps. Its all about the characters in the story, more so than anything else.

Lyriq Bent: It lends to the mystic of the whole series. That's what it has been like since number one. We know that at the end of a film, you want to walk away feeling satisfied. We think that Saw has been doing that since day one. In order for us to keep doing that, we have to keep it from you until you see it.

Lyriq, at what point did you know your character was going to take the lead in one of the sequels?

Lyriq Bent: I don't know. I think its one of those things that happened organically. I don't think anyone was thinking that I would be a lead. I surely wasn't thinking that. But I was prepared to do what I had to do, and bring a hundred percent to it. Maybe, that's part of what made it evolve. I think it's a great film, based on what we shot, and what I felt was captured. It felt really good. I think it was an organic evolution, really. No pun intended.

Scott, what made you want to do this movie?

Scott Patterson: It was a character that was completely different from what I'd been playing for seven years. It was a chance to be in the number one horror franchise in the history of film. So, it was a chance to be a part of film history, which is really exciting. I grew up in a town that spawned John Carpenter, who wrote and directed the Halloween films. It's kind of a tradition with me. I love horror films. For a kid from Jersey, the chance to be in something like this is more than I could have ever imagined growing up. It was pretty thrilling.

Mark Burg: If I had of known you were from Jersey, I never would have hired you. I just don't know about that.

Scott Patterson: Jack Nicholson is from Jersey. Meryl Streep is from Jersey.

Mark Burg: I take that back then.

Can you talk about what your characters may have done that Jigsaw wants to punish you for?

Lyriq Bent: I think that's the beauty of my character. He doesn't even know that he is in the game. He is just doing what naturally comes to him. To serve and protect, and do what he has the ability to do. He doesn't see himself as the victim in this situation. He is busy, off saving other people. He has that type of complex. I think that is part of the beautify of the movie. It is a real human conflict. And I hope that I was able to portray that, and get it across. So that people can attach themselves to the character, and see what he is going through.

Scott Patterson: I don't know what I can reveal. I guess he'll just turn the mic off if I say something.

Mark Burg: It's hard. I thought you guys would have at least seen the first seventy-five minutes of the movie. These guys don't know whether they live or die in it. They honestly don't. We shot both of them being killed. And we shot both of them living. Just so that the people on the crew wouldn't really know where we were going. So we shot three extra days. We didn't know what we were going to use.

Scott Patterson: Jigsaw is definitely the puppet master here. We're being manipulated by one man. And what can be described as his intellectually macabre psychosis. That's all I can reveal. But our strings our definitely being pulled by this one man. And his ideas of how people should live their lives.

Mark, did you know ahead of time that you were going to do six of these?

Mark Burg: When I started out, we just planned on making one movie. We just wanted to make one good movie. When it worked out, we thought, "Maybe we can do a second? Maybe we can do a third? Now, yeah, this is the first time that we've started developing story ideas before one of the movies has come out. We have a really good hook for where we want to go with the next one. But it's not set in stone. We hope to have another Saw movie next year. But if the script doesn't come together then we won't do it.

With the failure of Eli Roth's "Hostel 2", what are you guys doing to try and revitalize the genre?

Mark Burg: I don't think we are trying to revitalize it. We always knew that we were coming out on Halloween. I don't think it has anything to do with "Hostel" or Eli. I think if they spent more time worrying about the movie, and less time worrying about the promotional aspect, things would be different. Our first concern is the movie. I think Lionsgate does a great job of marketing our movies. I can't blame anybody. You guys are all here. I didn't get you here. They did. We want to make a good product, and hopefully people will find it. I like Halloween. When Bob Weinstein opened his movie called Halloween on Labor Day Weekend, which to me was the biggest compliment anybody has ever given in regards to the Saw franchise, I knew we had something special. I respect Bob, and if he is saying, "I'm not going to compete with you." I like that. That works.

Is there any sort of box office catastrophe that could keep "SAW V" from being made?

Mark Burg: Yeah, if no one turns out on Friday night, we will say, "Nobody likes our movies anymore. Maybe we shouldn't do it." But I don't think that is going to be happening. We'll have to see. Saw IV, for me, is the best in the series. The few people that have seen it, the sound mixers, the people at the lab. They've said, "You did it. This is the best one." Its kind of about who is taking over the mantel from Jigsaw, because Jigsaw is dead. Someone has to carry on the legacy. The story is about who this person is.

Do you think you are adding to the level of acceptance of violence in our society with these films?

Lyriq Bent: From a thespian's point of view, I don't try to judge my characters. I just try to have a responsibility to my craft. I approach it on a level where the older generation is teaching the younger generation what's right and what's wrong. I hope that people will understand that it is an idea, and a story. That it is something that is created in Hollywood. It could be argued that it is something that is real. But, I feel we are depicting life to a certain degree. I think this franchise has a lot of positive things that it brings to our attention. That some people don't look at because of the genre. I think that's a big mistake, people shouldn't do that. I think there is a message in there that is profound. And people can walk away from the movie with a positive outlook on life. If you want to take the good, you have to take the bad as well.

Scott Patterson: Maybe you are not asking the right question. Maybe you should ask why people go to horror films. Why do they go? It's a very simple formula. You ratchet up the tension in such a way, that through out a two hour running time, people are allowed several opportunities to feel relieved. That's it. That's what a horror film is. They are addicted to that relief. They are not there to feel the tension. They want that relief. That's it. That's what a horror film is. As far as the actors go, we are not aware that we are in a horror movie. We are there to tell the story. Intellectually, we could only be aware that people are coming to see the traps, and the blood, and the gore. But that is not for us to judge. We are in a dramatic piece. And I am looking for an accomplice and a killer. We all have our objectives.

What are the positive things that come out of these films?

Lyriq Bent: Well, if you are a viewer of any of these films, you'd understand what is being asked of people. That is, "How do you look at your life, and at what point is your life important to you?" Is it when you are running around doing everything under the sun? Or is it when you realize that the moment is no longer yours? There are so many things in there, and if you want to look at it in a personal way, you will see that. Maybe you'll think, "Damn, I shouldn't be taking these drugs. Maybe I shouldn't be doing these bad things." The movie makes you ask yourself questions. The horror aspect is that release Scott is talking about. It's no different than going to the amusement park. I question why people do that to themselves. It has quite a physical effect on the body. More so than film. Film has a psychological, visual effect. But it's that same type of thrill that people are looking for. People can walk away from the movie feeling safe, knowing that it's not really going to effect them.

Mark, what kind of criteria do you look for in a director, as far as someone that can continue this franchise?

Mark Burg: Well, we wanted Darren to direct part four, because with Jigsaw being dead, we wanted some continuity in the filmmaking and the story. Originally, Darren passed. We wrote the script. Then when Darren read it, he called me up about an hour later and said, "I'm in." He said, "I got to do this picture." Now, David Hackl, who has been the production designer on the last three pictures, he's going to direct "Saw V". He is really the person that has been coming up with all of the traps. And he has done some second unit directing on all of the Saw movies. He is well situated to be that person. And Kevin Greutert has signed on to edit the next picture. We have done a really good job of keeping our team. We have the same line editor, the same composer, the same cinematographer.

Is it true that they are shooting both V and VI back-to-back?

Mark Burg: It was an idea of ours to keep the cast together. It is really difficult with Scott doing a TV series, and all of our other actors doing different shows. But we are going to try to do it that way. We might try it. It's not out of the realm of possibilities. But it's going to be really hard to get the screenplay for Saw VI where we want it to be in time to do that.

Saw IV opens this Friday, October 26th, 2007. Just in time for Halloween.