Who is directing Saw II?
Who the hell is he?
I am sure this conversation was had by horror fans around the world once Darren Lynn Bousman was officially confirmed as the director of Saw II, the sequel to the multi-million dollar Saw franchise over at Lionsgate Films. So how did a man that had directed a few of his own scripts and one Static X music video manage to get the call to direct Saw II? With Saw II under his belt what is next? What about the DVD? On and on the questions go and I asked them and he answered…
Darren’s introduction to Saw was a bit different than most of ours and it wasn’t exactly the easiest thing for him to handle. At first he was a bit upset when he heard of Saw, considering the first time he heard about it was one week before it hit theaters after someone had just read his script, The Desperate. “I saw a film like this at Sundance,” someone said to him, “It was called Saw.” Little did he know that when he got a call from the folks at Lionsgate it wasn’t due to complaints of plagiarism, like he feared, they actually found parallels in style between his script and decided to make it the sequel.
“They are just so similar, bleak and disgusting, and The Desperate has a twist ending. Once I sat down with James [Wan] and Leigh [Whannel] it was a no brainer,” Darren told me.
As for The Desperate, he tells me the script wasn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill studio horror. “The first draft was an X-rated film, not for sex, for violence. There was one scene though… It is in your face violent. My agent was sending out the script and some studios told him, ‘Never send me another script from this kid! How dare you!'” This didn’t deter him considering hard R rated films are what he loves, but he did cut the script back to about an R rating, which is when execs at Lionsgate were turned on to his talent.
I had to wonder just how much of The Desperate made its way into the film considering he sat down and hammered out the script with the writer and star of the original Saw film, Leigh Whannel. “The framework of The Desperate is there. When I came on, it was a page one rewrite and Leigh and I sat down for like a week and a half and just worked out the script.”
Now, all the eyes were on Bousman as movie news fansite JoBlo.com drops the news that this no name director is taking on a franchise that has already generated legions of fans. For Darren this wasn’t exactly the easiest experience to deal with, at least not at first. “Have you ever been kicked in the balls repeatedly?” he asked me. “The pressure was so intense, I was being watched by everybody.”
Fortunately he had the big kahuna in his corner in producer Gregg Hoffman. “It was like having the mafia vouch for me,” Darren said. “I had to meet with the execs at Lionsgate and you have never seen a room so full of straight faced and unwelcoming people and here is Gregg telling them, ‘Guys, he’s directing the movie.’ He was one of my best friends, he took a chance on me when no one else did.”
Hoffman passed away December 4, 2005 at the age of 42 due to natural causes and as a reaction Darren shared his grief over his passing in a posting on his blog saying, “Gregg, I thank you… For taking a risk… Being a man of your word… Being a mentor… But more importantly being a great friend.”
Gregg’s influence and opinion have not been forgotten by Darren as he tells me one of the scripts Gregg gave him he hopes to make his next project. I couldn’t get much out of him but here is what he said, “Let’s just call it The Untitled Project… It is a dark and horrific story, but it is harsh and violent in a much different way than any other horror. Gregg was the type of guy to pull this out of the stack when most people would burn it.”
Now, don’t read that the wrong way, there was passion in his voice when he spoke of the film. It seemed like it was all he could do not to tell me the title and even more. We also discussed another film he is interested in, a movie called Threshold for Dimension Films. “Threshold is a film I am very interested in, it is a remake of a film called Evil Words written by Stephen Susco who wrote The Grudge. It is a dark film, but it is not a horror, it is much more of a thriller.”
What about Saw III?!?!? I know you are asking and of course I was doing the same. “Never say never,” he tells me. “It would be about the story. I am not a Hollywood-esque kind of guy. I am a horror movie geek.” Who could ask for anything more? He compares his liking of horror to Eli Roth, a man who has experienced major success with another Lionsgate release, Hostel, a film being described as one of the goriest films ever. Although he does admit Roth may even be a bigger geek than he… a modest admission for a man who obviously loves the genre.
Even though Darren didn’t say specifically that he would be working on Saw III I was led to believe that the jigsaw pieces are being put together. “We certainly planted seeds for a third one, but no matter what you think it is going to be it is going to go the other way. No one knew which way Saw was going to go, I don’t think anyone knew which way Saw II was going to go and the same will be for the third one.” For those of you keeping score, current plans are to have Saw III in theaters by late October, given Darren’s demeanor I don’t think he will be directing. But who knows, this could just be one more twist in the Saw puzzle.
So, with this love of gore in tow and the upcoming Valentine’s Day release of Saw II it was time to talk Jigsaw and what we can expect from the silver platter, and if you haven’t sent a special Saw II Valentine yet, click the little guy to the left and do so.
“It’s an excellent Valentine’s Day gift,” he jokes, “filled with tons of behind-the-scenes looks and featurettes.” Darren has his first ever director’s commentary on the DVD release along with stars Donnie Wahlberg and Beverley Mitchell so I had to ask him how it is. “I think it is hilarious. We did it early in the morning, I think I had like seven cups of coffee and Donnie Wahlberg is a very bitter and funny person, it is fun to hear him rip into people…”
I am sure you are all like me and considering the latest craze to release “unrated” editions of movies months after the theatrical edition we have to wonder if the same is going to happen with Saw II. After all, it happened with the first film.
I led into this by initially asking how much was cut from the film. For a guy who had an X-rated script out there I could only assume there were some things that didn’t make it onto the big screen. “We actually got lucky with the MPAA and we sort of censored ourselves. Was there stuff cut out? Yes. Was there a ton? No.”
Okay, that is modest, but what was cut? “There were a few scenes that we knew would never get passed the MPAA so they were cut; like one person throws up a lung, more needle shots and the fire scene was a little longer…”
Uh huh, vomiting lungs and more sticky needles… I see it all right now, sounds like Thanksgiving with the Manson family. Let’s cut to the chase, will there be an unrated DVD? “It has not been discussed. I can see some more scenes going into the movie and there is a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff we shot, but it hasn’t been discussed yet.”
Unrated release or not, there is more to look for on the DVD than just special features. On Darren’s Lionsgate Director’s Blog he mentions that the twist ending can be figured out if you just pay a little bit of attention. “INSIDE JIGSAWS LAIR!!! The clues are all RIGHT THERE!!!” he posts on the blog, so I had to ask what you should keep your eyes peeled for, and he answered. Some of what he said I am not going to tell you because it would ruin the fun of the film, and what he did say that I will print will be blacked out. So if you have seen the film and want to do a little hunting, or if you have not seen the film and hope to make your friends think that you are WICKED smart, highlight the quote below and go impress:
“In Jigsaw’s elevator, to the right of Jigsaw, in the elevator, by the water jug… It is right there, it is very blatant.”
Not a lot, but what he told me is there will certainly solve the crime. Happy Hunting!
With Saw II under his belt, projects on the horizon, how is life after directing a film that grossed over $87 million at the box-office? “Every ex-girlfriend I ever had is calling me.” I am sure it is more than just ex’s that are knocking on his door, but I didn’t want to dig too deep.
Saw II hits DVD shelves on February 14. You can preorder a copy here and check out more details on the disc right here including a full list of special features.