Exclusive Interview: Saw VI Director Kevin Greutert


Series editor has his fun with Jigsaw

Kevin Greutert is the antithesis of what the Saw franchise reflects. He’s humble. Soft spoken. Harmless looking.

What this bespectacled fella shares with the series is a knack for keeping secrets. Trying to get a spoiler out of this guy is like trying to get out of a Saw trap rigged by Amanda. It’s goddamn impossible. Greutert knows how to play the game. Hell, he’s been on the series as editor since the first film, now he’s making his feature directorial debut with Saw VI.

In between his Saw duties he’d go on to edit The Strangers, Room 6, The Thirst and Repo! The Genetic Opera. I sat down with Greutert recently for a brief chat about his time in the director’s chair.

ShockTillYouDrop.com: Was it an easy transition for you moving from editor to director?

Kevin Greutert: It was somewhat easy. I had done a fair amount of writing and I’d made short films, paid a lot of attention in the cutting room. Even as an assistant editor, I was exposed to what was going on between producers and directors while the film was being made. Being in the editing room, it’s a fly on the wall situation to what’s going on in the industry. God knows how much I’ve learned during that process. I’ve certainly learned how difficult it is to make films.

Shock: You’ve been with the series from the beginning, you know the rhythms, you know how the plots unfold. How do you put your signature on it?

Greutert: I think there is some bold visual design in this film which builds on what we’ve seen in the previous Saw movies. I know what I like from the past films, I know what I didn’t like and I tried to do more of what I liked. And that goes for characters, trying to finding the salient points for these characters in the storyline and using that to tell a lot of story in a short amount of time. I knew I wanted to bring a lot of the same insane energy Darren Bousman brought to it. But at the same time, that takes it away from being a horror film and being more like a thriller, so I knew – particularly from working on The Strangers which is a quiet horror film – that you do need to slow down and you need to get quiet. It can’t be speed and chaos the whole time. I wanted the Saw films to feel not just like a ride but it needs to be a roller coaster, then it needs to make you feel like it’s broken down, it’s slow and dark and then something jumps out. The floor falls out from under you and you’re back on the roller coaster.

Shock: Marcus and Patrick are there at the story level, but how much say do you have conceiving the traps?

Greutert: It comes from a lot of places, these traps. Sometimes it’s not very organic. The script will have the storyline in place, but the details of the traps might not be in place. They’ll be there, but in the production office on the other side of the continent we’ll be trying to figure out an idea on the time and budget that we have and re-think it. Most of it comes from the script itself, but God knows in the production there were a couple of key trap scenes where I’d sit down with whoever’s ear I could bend in the office – whether it’s our producer or production designer – and just brainstorm like crazy. One of my favorite scenes in the film that bedeviled us from the very beginning and went through so many incarnations that it wound up being wound up unrecognizable from what it was in the beginning. I think it’s one of the strongest in the series. But when we were banging our heads against the wall, I said it was either going to be the best scene or the worst scene.

Shock: Do you follow a lot of the online chatter? The theories people have about which direction the future entries, particularly yours, will go in?

Greutert: I follow the fan forums a lot. I always have because it’s amusing. But it’s useful knowing what works and what doesn’t work. I can pretty much say for any aspect of the series, for every thing one person likes, another person doesn’t like it. They’re united behind Jigsaw as a great character, but other than that, it’s divisive.

Shock: For example, what do you hear? What works, what doesn’t?

Greutert: I guess it comes down to storylines we’ve pursued or characters we’ve pursued and dropped.

Shock: David Hackl is making his return for the seventh film, would you be happy to come back for another Saw film yourself?

Greutert: I guess it depends on where my career goes from here. If I’m out of work, for sure then. [laughs] I love Saw, I’d hate to let it go, even when I was just editing films I’d get offers for other high profile projects, but I kept coming back to this.

Shock: For an editor, what’s the most difficult task for you when it comes to shaping the structure of a horror film?

Greutert: It really comes down to the scares. That’s what producers care about the most, forget about reason. The more jolts you give the audience, the more they’re going to tell their friends to see the movie… It’s the holy grail of horror. I just saw Paranormal Activity the other day and the audience was very audible in reacting the way you want them to, as a filmmaker. It’s a simple movie, you can’t say much for the production design but the thing that matters is that it delivers. I’m sorry we’re competing against it. [laughs] It’s not going to be a problem. I wish them well, it’s a creative movie.

Shock: Turning quickly to The Strangers, you know they have a sequel on the way, did that ever land in your lap as a potential directing gig? Did Bryan Bertino approach you as a possible director for the The Strangers 2?

Greutert: Well, God knows The Strangers was a great experience for me…um, I shouldn’t say, but yeah, I’m close to those guys. I’ll be curious to see The Strangers 2, it’s a really great script.

Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor