John Kramer (Tobin Bell) is back for another set of twisted games in Saw X, which is set between the events of Saw I and II.
The movie finds a sick and desperate John travelling to Mexico for a risky and experimental medical procedure in hopes of a miracle cure for his cancer – only to discover the entire operation is a scam to defraud the most vulnerable. Armed with a newfound purpose, John returns to his work, turning the tables on the con artists in his signature visceral way through a series of ingenious and terrifying traps.
Producers Mark Burg and Oren Koules have been with Saw from the very beginning, ever since they watched the short movie by James Wan and Leigh Whannell, which has spawned a franchise lasting 20 years. We sat down with them to find out how they feel about more Saw, remembering where it all began, whether there will be another and discovering a very important birthday was coming up [note: this interview took place on 21 September].
So you’ve been with Saw since the very beginning…
Oren Koules: Actually, 22 September was the first day of principal photography for Saw I. So it will be 20 years tomorrow!
Wow. Happy birthday for tomorrow. Are you going to have a cake…?
Mark Burg: This is a new world we’ll probably just go for a walk and have a smoothie!
What’s it been like being on this Saw journey for all those years?
Mark Burg: It’s been a giant, fun roller coaster! There are about six or seven people who have been with this franchise since day one. We’re all still really good friends. So it’s a way of spending a couple of months every year with good friends on location somewhere. Oren, myself, Dan Hefner, our producing partner, Jason Constantine from Lionsgate, Kevin Grider, who’s edited or directed every movie, and Charlie Clauser has been doing the music since Saw I. So it’s actually like one long, extended family.
What stood out to you about the short film the first movie is based on?
Mark Burg: It was fucking amazing!
Oren Koules: I literally ran to Marks’s office. Believe it or not, it was actually a VHS. Our third partner who’s unfortunately passed away, brought it into our office. I watched it and literally ran into Mark’s office. He was talking and I’m like ‘hang up the phone, hang up the phone!’ And we watched it and we were like ‘holy cow’.
I said ‘here’s the best news. There’s actually a script that comes with it’. So we all went home, read the script. We were like, please be good, please be good, please be good. And the script was exactly what it is.
We did some rewrites. James did rewrites basically to the location, and that’s it. Mark and I decided to finance the films ourselves. We used money out of our accounts, and just hoped to get our money back and it worked!
Watch the original short film below…
What do you think it is about the Saw movies that keep us coming back for more?
Mark Burg: We’ve been making the movies for 20 years. When the audience stops coming, we’ll stop making them. It’s kind of one long story and the audience really wanted John Kramer alive. We did a giant brand study with Lionsgate, and what came back was: More John Kramer. Go back to the look, feel, the grittiness of Saw I and why can’t you make a movie where John Kramer is still alive with Shawnee Smith? So we did.
We came up with a story with Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger, the writers, that kind of takes place right after. Probably about three or four weeks after Saw I.
And we only wanted Kevin Greutert to direct it. We didn’t want to meet with any other directors. We knew that because he had edited every movie he would understand this movie better than anybody else.
What is Saw X about?
Mark Burg: This movie is more about John Kramer than it is about Jigsaw. We spend the first half hour with John learning about him and he’s a man that just isn’t ready to accept death. I mean, if you think about it, I don’t think anybody really is. If he could do something to live an extra day… And that’s what he does. He finds an experimental treatment in Mexico. American doctors have said it’s over, and he’s gonna say, ‘well, I’m gonna take one last shot’. And that’s where the story takes off.
What are you looking forward to audiences seeing in Saw X?
Oren Koules: We honestly think it’s the best movie we’ve made. It’s the most complete movie. It’s 25-30 minutes longer than our longest movie. It’s John Kramer from the opening shot through the middle and in the end, it’s his movie, and I think people who’ve been with us for this ride for 20 years will really appreciate it. It’s really for the fans.
We listened to what people have talked to us about over the years. We read a lot. We don’t test our movies. So we basically read all the comments and after a while we learned what people like and don’t like. We tried to make this for the fans.
Mark Burg: I think fans that maybe have stopped coming to Saw movies will hear about this movie, will see this movie and will be reinvigorated and be like alright, ‘I’m back. We think it’s that good!’
Do you think there will be more Saw movies after Saw X?
Mark Burg: Oren and myself have always been very superstitious. We never think about the next movie until the current movie opens. So you can reach out to us the Monday after the movie opens on 2 October. If the movie works, then yeah, we’ll be like ‘alright, let’s do one more’.
Saw X will be in cinemas on 29 September.