During our exclusive chat with Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan about The Collector DVD/Blu-ray release (it’s in stores now), they also talked about the upcoming closely-guarded Saw VII 3-D, and address the possibility of whether this will indeed be the final film in the series. They weren’t able to tell me one way or the other, but this being Hollywood, you can bet your ass if the seventh one makes money there’ll be another Saw movie at some point in the near future. Read on for all the details, including the bitchin’, super sick trap that’s so bloody, so disgusting, and so disturbing, the producers wouldn’t allow them to put it in any of the Saw films – until now.
BD: I like the core idea in ‘Saw VII’ of bringing back some of the survivors from the previous films. How did you guys come up with that?
Marcus: Well, that springboarded from…I mean, you’re looking at something that is a Part 7, and if you look at the previous horror film series that get up to a Part 7…very rarely do those entries take advantage of the fact that they have a history. Like for example, in some where it’s a new group of people, and they also die….the nice thing about ‘Saw’ is, if the killer – who’s not necessarily a killer – but if his method is successful, you live. You’re f’ed up, but yet wait, you appreciate it! So this is the one type of franchise where you organically have people that should be still involved, and should come back, and what their stories are I think are quite compelling. Especially, you know, individuals that have been kicked down by a lot of circumstances to the point where a villain has decided to put them in a room with their worst vice and by god, a handful of ’em survived…what do they want? Do they want revenge? Would they like to protect that? Where could that series go? And I thought based on just that idea, that here’s a series paved in red but some people stood up at the end of the day, that was fertile ground to grow a pretty wicked, twisty-turny entry.
BD: How substantial is Cary Elwes’ role in the movie?
Marcus: We’re gonna have to be careful when it comes to that sort of a thing, but the one thing I’m very confident that we could reveal, is that…it’s not old footage.
Patrick: It’s all new. He was in Toronto shooting scenes. But that’s about all we can say.
BD: Was the 3-D aspect of ‘Saw 7’ constantly on your mind when you were writing?
Marcus: Absolutely. The fact we had to make out lists continually of what the moments were…and also the producers and whatnot were all very keenly aware of other horror product that was out there in 3-D and didn’t want to come short of any of the impact that those films had, but in fact wanted to [top] them by miles. So every single moment was conceived with that technology in mind. Not in a conversion sense…what I loved about the idea of potentially going into a ‘Saw’ movie in 3-D was not the sense of something poking you in the eye, which could be nauseating, but the sense of immersion. Like, we can actually put the audience in a trap this year. That’s bad-ass. That hasn’t been done. And now, when the audience recoils from something out of fright, the image is built to chase you.
Patrick: In terms of coming up with the traps and stuff like that, is there’s always chatter; is that trap that you guys are talking about gonna be a 3-D moment? And so we’re all very aware of that. No one wanted to make one of those gimmicky 3-D horror movies, where things just randomly come at the audience. They wanted it to be a little more organic to the story and not really draw attention to itself. So it is more immersive than some of the other 3-D movies that we’ve seen. And it was shot in real 3-D, so it’s not a cheap gag to get three more bucks out of everybody. It was very well thought through, and conceived and all that…a lot of the traps are gonna be really…[taking on] a new dimension.
Marcus: I will tell you this. There’s a trap we’ve wanted to put in a ‘Saw’ movie ever since we had the chance to work on this. And it’s four years now! It’s the most brutal thing. First time: ‘No, that’s too violent!’ Second year: ‘No, that’s too disgusting!’ Third year: ‘No, that’s just wrong!’ This year: ‘Ok, fuck it. Bring it.’ [Laughs] I was so proud to see it unleashed. And with the added technological leap of 3-D…oh, it is definitely three “die”-mensions. [Laughs]
BD: So you guys were actually told this was just too extreme for a ‘Saw’ film?
Marcus: Yeah. ‘Too much! Oh, we just can’t!’
Patrick: Not this year.
BD: In a franchise known for its subtlety, I guess that makes sense.
Marcus: Of course, yeah. [Laughs]
BD: ‘Saw 6’ had a complex flashback structure. Can we expect that with the seventh film?
Marcus: Well I mean, naturally, when they release a plot that’s based on survivors we’re gonna have to do a little reminding. So certainly, there will be elements that have to be revealed. And that’s the benefit of having a nice fractured timeline, is you can always fill in elements of the past to support a nice moment in the future, in the present.
Patrick: And plus, you know, we’re promising a certain amount of closure at the end of this, so actually we’re gonna have to reach into the past to bring this thing full circle, you know?
BD: You guys think this is actually gonna be the last ‘Saw’ film?
Marcus: That’s another thing we can’t –
Patrick: I don’t know. I don’t know if it will be. But once the dust settles and the credits roll, you’re certainly gonna feel a great amount of closure on where the franchise began and where it ends at the end of this one.
BD: Are you saying, then, that once this one is done that the franchise would need to be reconceived?
Marcus: No, no, no. There are certain questions, I guess, that are answered that will provide a satisfaction to this. I mean, pretty much we’re trying to dance around the idea that we’re not supposed to say shit about whether it’s the last one or not. We’re just not. Anytime it’s even been hinted at, we get like the hard hand over our mouths…I mean, whereas for a moment we thought we could be a little more definitive about it, but no, we’re really not supposed to say jack shit.
BD: I’m sure this is a sensitive issue, but I know Kevin Greutert was forced back onto the project after he went over to direct ‘Paranormal 2’. Were you guys worried that situation would lead to a tense work environment on ‘Saw 7’?
Marcus: Well, it was a very complex shoot just based on the technology involved. You know, the budget was twice as big, the schedule was a third longer, and the plot was twice as ambitious to sprinkle in there as well. So any filmmaker would want the benefit of time to enter that world, and so time was definitely a bigger crunch issue…and yes, while there were sensitive political behind-the-scenes elements going on, Kevin Greutert showed up to make the very, very best movie possible, and he fought and fought and fought to drag every bloody image to the screen. And you know, for somebody facing what is…oh man, it’s so, so daunting. But that guy is such a professional that he did nothing but deliver the entire time. And deliver, and deliver, and deliver. So by the end of it, I think the poor guy broadsided into a beach and said ‘wake me when I need to go back to editing’, and that was that. Cause he spent every last molecule of his strength to bring the film over the finish line. Bu I really can’t wait to see it. Pat and I were able to witness the man in action quite a bit this year, and it was something else. He had to puppeteer sequences that were ten times as ambitious as anything in the previous entries.
BD: Did he acclimate to the 3-D thing pretty well, especially this being only his second film?
Marcus: Well, second film as a director, but countless films as a creator. As an editor, he’s been telling stories for years and years and years, and complex ones. So that first discipline served him well. The technology was something that had to be learned a bit quickly, but at least this was a familiar mechanism of storytelling. So that I think was crucial to the success of it.
Patrick: Considering the circumstances, I think he acclimated pretty quickly. But two weeks in, he really found his stride. But you know, it was definitely a difficult transition cause he was thrown in two weeks before production. It’s one thing to get your brain around the script, but it’s another thing to be told you have to shoot it differently because we have this new camera package. You know, he was able to adapt pretty quickly, and I think it’s gonna be a really wild ride.
BD: If ‘Saw 7’ did end up being your last involvement in the franchise, would that be a good feeling considering you’d be more free to pursue other projects?
Marcus: There’s nothing but…we’re grateful to have been a part of something that people have seen and responded to. I mean, it’s a popular juggernaut of a series. And really, the greatest satisfaction of all comes from the lights coming up at the end, and if we really scared you or if we really surprised you, that’s about as good as it gets.
Patrick: If this ends up being the last one, I think everyone will be very fulfilled and satisfied with looking back on all the films…by the end of this movie, they’ll all have a really nice symmetry to them. And if there’s more, there can be, but there certainly doesn’t need to be after this one.
BD: How much of Tobin Bell will we see in ‘Saw VII’?
Patrick: He’s in it…I don’t know if he has as much screen time in [‘Saw 6’] –
Marcus: Actually, I don’t think we’ll know until we see the movie…we know he was there for the shoot, so we’ll see!
Patrick: He’s in it, and his character is very important to the plot, where the plot begins and where the plot ends. Very important. Cause we know at the end of [‘Saw 6’] there’s problems lingering, because somebody didn’t die who was supposed to die, and somebody’s now likely being pursued by the person who’s supposed to be dead. And they both trace back to John Kramer. So…his being is integral to the plot.
BD: So there’s no danger of Tobin Bell ending up on the cutting room floor.
Patrick: No. No way…these scenes get cut down quite a bit throughout the process, but strangely enough, the scenes that are never cut down are the ones with Tobin. Cause he just…he has a real great aura, and a real great grasp on the character, and sort of the nuance of the ‘Saw’ universe. So anytime he’s spewing knowledge it’s usually pretty interesting.
SAW 3D arrives in theaters October 22.