BEVERLY HILLS, California — The fate of the Jigsaw killer may be up in the air, but the pieces are assembled for another installment of this merciless and unapologetically grotesque horror franchise after a weekend take of $34.3 million for "Saw III."
Just don't ask the creative team behind the trilogy what will happen in the next movie.
"There will continue to be 'Saw' films as long as they're popular and the fans continue to love them," writer Leigh Whannell admitted. "We're cagey about 'Saw IV,' and the reason we're being cagey is because we just don't know."
Like one of Jigsaw's elaborate traps, that uncertainty is by design. After three successful films in as many years, the "Saw" team has learned to feed off the energy needed to complete the flicks on fast turnaround, which director Darren Bousman confessed for "Saw III" was "five and a half months from the day we agreed to do it [to] the day we turned the final film in."
"We're almost making the 'Saw' films the way they make television; we just go at them at 100 mph," Whannell marveled. "And that energy, I think, translates into the finished project."
Nevertheless, the pair were careful to leave enough unanswered plot lines for a third sequel to arise from the material.
"In 'Saw III' there are tons of threads that we didn't answer — like the letter that Amanda — played by Shawnee Smith (see "Jigsaw Gets A Girlfriend In 'Saw III,' But Don't Expect Any Love Scenes") — read. What was in that letter? The key that she was wearing around her neck: What was in that key? [Who is] the daughter?" Bousman revealed. "There's tons of things that we set up as the seeds you can grow ['Saw IV' from]."
Jigsaw's fate is more or less open to interpretation at the end of "Saw III," as he flatlines but leaves yet another mysterious tape. For his part, the actor who plays the film's monster would like to return — provided future installments were not merely retreading what came before.
"I would like 'IV' to be better than 'III,' and 'V' to be as good and as rewarding as 'IV,' " star Tobin Bell enthused. "[I'd come back] if I can contribute and find more of John Kramer's voice — if I can create some counterpoint to [the torture] by bringing some humanity."
Whannell reported writing the script for "Saw III" in less than a week. At this point, the formula seems pretty standard: A few tears, some sweat and bucketfuls of blood. In making "Saw IV" it seems best to deprive Bousman of the two things directors seem to want most of all: money and time.
"If they tried to up the budget or gave us a year and a half to do it, the movie wouldn't be as good. It would fail," he contended, adding that the credo behind all of the "Saw" films is the following:
"Follow your gut reaction, shoot it, and move on."
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