‘Saw IV’ Masterminds Piece Together Jigsaw’s Puzzling Return

Killer won't appear as a ghost or in flashback form — and flick isn't a prequel, either.

HOLLYWOOD — The most terrifying face in horror over the last half-decade is no more. And long shall he reign.

“Jigsaw is dead,” producer Mark Burg revealed Wednesday (June 13), sitting in a dimly lit bar alongside “Saw” masterminds Darren Lynn Bousman, Oren Koules and Tobin Bell. “Everybody knows that they killed him at the end of ‘Saw III’ … so the challenge for us was, how do you continue the franchise with Jigsaw being dead?”

With the fourth installment of the super-successful, super-secretive franchise having recently wrapped filming in Toronto, the group convened to give its first interviews about the series that has become an annual Halloween tradition for filmgoers (see “Jigsaw’s Already Back For More? ‘Saw III’ Team Sets Up ‘Saw
IV’ “
). But unlike the other flicks, “Saw IV” would seem to no longer have a villain after fans watched Jigsaw get his neck sliced open and Amanda (Shawnee Smith) get shot in the last volume (see “Jigsaw Gets A Girlfriend In ‘Saw III,’ But Don’t Expect Any Love Scenes” ). In many ways, the interviews are marking the beginning of a cat-and-mouse game between fans and filmmakers that would make Jigsaw proud.

“Shawnee is dead as well,” Burg added, also confirming that “Saw” won’t go the route of series like “Friday the 13th” and turn the Jigsaw Killer and his young protégé Amanda into invincible monsters. “We always thought that we wanted to keep the franchise going, but we didn’t want to without having a great story. Then Oren called me up one day, we were playing around with a bunch of ideas, and he said, ‘What if blah, blah, blah?’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God, that works!’ ”

“You’ll find out what’s going on in the very first scene,” grinned Bell, insisting that he is not only in the movie but has just as much screen time as he did in the last two films. “Does it take place chronologically after the events of ‘Saw III’? Yes.”

“I don’t know what constitutes a prequel, or what constitutes a flashback,” the veteran actor added. “All I can tell you is that we meet a lot of new characters, it picks up after the last movie and continues to tell the story.”

“Jigsaw definitely returns, but so do the traps, so do the twists, and so does the doll,” explained Bousman, who has directed all three sequels. “This is what I can tell you about the film: Everyone’s thinking, ‘Oh, they’re doing a prequel,’ but we’re not. Is Tobin back? One hundred percent he is. Is he badass in this? One hundred percent he is. Is Tobin only in flashbacks? No, he’s not. Is Tobin dead? Yes he is. Is Tobin a ghost? No, he’s not.”

For those playing along at home, the filmmakers also shot down any notion of Jigsaw having a twin brother à la “City Slickers.”

After being questioned until they were at nearly the same torture point as that poor dude on the cross in the last flick, the filmmakers cited a key flashback scene from “Saw III” as their blueprint for the fourth film. “The thing about the ‘Saw’ movies is that they don’t happen sequentially; things get revealed out of sequence. Like in the ‘Saw III’ scene in the bathroom, [flashing back to] just before I lied down in the floor in ‘Saw,’ ” Bell said. “There’s some of that in this film, where we fill in gaps that have developed over time in the previous ‘Saw’ films.”

“But it’s way up there with the gore,” added David Hackl, who designs the traps for the series. “I just remember Darren standing on set, day after day, saying, ‘More blood! We need more blood!’ The traps are going to be more elegant and much stronger … these will be more of a mental puzzle … they’ll make you think.”

“There is a scene in this movie where I physically regurgitated in my mouth,” Bousman grinned. “It’s at the very beginning, and [special-effects coordinator] François [Dagenais] is a genius. … There is stuff in this movie that I’m dying to see whether it gets past the MPAA.”

While some might think that Jigsaw’s death would put an end to his anger over being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Bell was quick to say that John has plenty of motivation to continue his killing from beyond the grave. “His terminal cancer is one of the elements in his life, but he’s just as angry that the world is going to hell in a handbasket because it’s no longer survival of the fittest but survival of the mediocre,” observed the actor. “If the story is brilliant, I don’t care if he’s dead or alive.”

Adding that the supposed plots currently listed on sites like IMDb are bogus, Bousman and his crew coughed up the following tidbits on the flick, which will soon release its first image (keep checking back here to see it) and hit theaters October 26:

· Expect “Saw IV” to up the estrogen. “Two of our main leads this year are female,” Bousman revealed.

· Bell has said his favorite torture involves a character named “Cecil” — who may or may not have appeared in a previous film.

· Expect a special-delivery leftover from the last movie. “I’ll say one thing: Remember in ‘Saw III,’ when Shawnee opened up the envelope and read things?” Koules said. “Do you know what was in there? Now you will.”

· “Saw IV” will revisit the jigsaw pieces that the killer once cut from the flesh of his victims. “That thread will continue, but I can’t answer how,” Bousman said.

· Producer Koules stepped in front of the cameras again alongside Smith, answering a key question in the series. “I get the question all the time: ‘In “Saw 1,” the person who Shawnee cuts open to get the key to unlock [her mask], her dead cellmate — what was his relationship to her?’ ” he grinned, referring to the new flashback. “Well, I was the cellmate.”

· Among other details we’ll learn is the history of Smith’s jewelry. “[In 'Saw III'], what was the key that was chained around her neck?” Bousman asked, suggesting the answer will be revealed.

Last but not least, the director promised a conclusion that will finally compete with the original flick’s now-classic revelation of the seemingly dead man getting up from the bathroom floor. “If you guys guess the end of the movie, then you’re my personal f—ing heroes,” Bousman dared.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Saw IV.”

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