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“We made this movie for the fans” – Kevin Greutert and Anthony Stabley talk Saw X and the future of the franchise

5 min read

The Jigsaw Killer made a bloody return to our screens just in time for Halloween as hit cinemas with Tobin Bell back as John Kramer. The movie has now passed $100 million at the worldwide box office, with many fans questioning the future of the beloved franchise and whether we have really said goodbye to Bell for the last time.

Speaking to FILMHOUNDS, director and production designer gave us an insight into the Book of Saw as they talk to us about Saw X's stylistic choices, their favourite traps, and what to expect next from Jigsaw and his acolytes.

Kevin, you returned to the Saw franchise to helm Saw X after previously directing and editing throughout the series – what was it like coming back?

Kevin Greutert: It was great. I didn't really imagine I'd be directing another Saw film, but when Josh [Stolberg, writer] and Pete [Goldfinger, writer] wrote this script, unbeknownst to me, they were championing my name as a director to the producer. Lo and behold, they showed me the script – I don't believe they shopped it around to anybody else – I read it, I loved it. They hired me, and we made a good story.

This film saw the return of Tobin Bell as John Kramer, what was it like working with him again?

K: He gets quite involved in a lot of the thinking behind the movie, not necessarily in the traps so much. He communicated with Anthony a lot about how we were trying to position this film as kind of a theatrical production for the benefit not only of Cecilia [Pederson, played by Synnøve Macody Lund] but maybe himself as well. And a lot of that had to do with the architecture of the set that Anthony made.

Anthony Stabley: I really enjoyed working with Tobin, he really appreciated the art department. He often had little meetings with me where we would walk through the set and sometimes he would ask for some different choices for props that he wanted to handle. It was very important for him that people believed what he was doing. It was the same with the traps in general too, we always wanted to make sure that it was authentic and that the audience felt they were something that John could make.

What we held back or how we revealed things was also so important to us. And many times, Tobin would come up to me and say “Hey, why don't we cover this thing up? And then we'll reveal it later”. He was just so lovely. Every day I felt like I had all the support from him. The bathroom scene, which is at the end of the movie, we had to recreate in Mexico City. The day we filmed the scene, Tobin walks on set and goes, “Jesus Christ., Oh my God, you replicated this to the T”. I just felt like he loved us and we loved him. We were all there to make this movie that represented his journey and we were all on the same page. He's a great collaborator.

K: I don't think John Kramer's been seen in “The Bathroom” for quite a few movies. It might have been 15 years since he'd seen the Saw Bathroom in person. So I wish I'd seen that.

Billy the Puppet in Saw X

Speaking of the traps, the ones seen in the latest film felt like some of the bloodiest but also some of the most simple in the franchise. Anthony, how did you come up with them, and do you have a favourite trap from Saw X?

A: Because our film is set between Saw I and II, we just wanted to go back to that world which was way simpler. We felt over the last couple of movies they [the traps] just got so out of control. They were just crazy and not believable. And we thought if we're going to make a film that's rooted in realism, where you're following John Kramer, then the traps need to be simplified. I think honestly, John's performance in that first half of the movie added so much weight to the traps. Now, you're watching these characters, you understand who they are, and then they go through all this stuff. It's super gory and intense.

As for my favourite traps, Valentina [Paulette Hernandez] went through one of the most intense traps ever put together [the Bone Marrow Trap]. But I really love the Brain Surgery Trap. It's just very peculiar to me, and I love that it has aspects of Mexican mythology. For us, it was very important that these traps infuse the theme of the medical aspects of the movie. So they were very specific to each of these characters.

Was it a conscious decision to go back to Saw's nostalgic, noughties roots for X?

K: That was a very conscious decision. I felt like there were choices made in Jigsaw and Spiral that distanced the look and aesthetic of the film from the earlier ones that we really loved the look of. We were shooting digitally and not on film, so it wasn't something that was going to happen automatically, but it was something we talked about all the time.

A: We made this film for the fans. We wanted to give them something new and really interesting. There was this Saw cool colour tone that we had at the beginning of the movie and when we go into Mexico as we feel like there's this hope for John. But when everything starts screwing up, we throw in all these reds, and then we give the people what they want. They wanted to go back to that gritty factory. We did everything that we could to look back at those movies and to make sure that our film had those vital ingredients

Lastly, Saw X very much felt like saying goodbye to John Kramer and welcoming in a new age of Saw. Who do you think will take on the role of the Jigsaw Killer and which direction would you like to see the franchise go in?

K: It's kind of an open question, internally, for us all to decide what that might be. It makes me sad, though, to consider having somebody replace John Kramer, because every time we do, it's just never as good. All I can say about a future Saw film is that I really just want it to be as good as this one. My belief is that just from a writing standpoint if there was to be another one with John, it would have to still stay within Saw and Saw II. There might be some loose ends that need to be wrapped up. From this.

A: There's room between Saw X and Saw II, and there's room between Saw II and III before he dies. Unless he invents a time machine or clones himself. We loved working in Mexico too so we would not complain if we went back to Mexico.

K: I was I was electrified the instant they said, “Maybe we should shoot it in Mexico”. It just occurred to me, if we shoot him in Mazatlan. There's going to be a total eclipse in April. So maybe we can incorporate that into the movie. But we got to get cracking.

Saw X is available to rent and buy on digital now.