When you think of the Saw franchise, the first three things that come to mind are the elaborate traps, Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw and his creepy accomplice Billy the Puppet. Spiral director Darren Lynn Bousman knows this better than most people having helmed the second, third and fourth installments in the long-running horror series, but as a fresh continuation of the mythology, he can’t rely on them all for the next outing.
However, if you omit what people recognize about the property, then you run the risk of turning it into something unrecognizable, so the filmmaker has promised new torturous contraptions, even if the primary antagonist and the puppet will be absent from the latest chapter. In a recent interview, Bousman explained why he didn’t want to lean too heavily on the established iconography while still ensuring that Spiral retains the essence of Saw, and here’s what he shared:
“If I was brought in to direct Saw 9, that would be a much different thing than being brought in to direct Spiral, and I think that it’s important for me to differentiate the two. And I didn’t want to insult the fans by trying to make another Jigsaw because there’s only one Tobin Bell, and no one can hold a candle to what he brought into that character. So for me, I wanted to go a completely different way. I wanted the killer to be so different from Jigsaw that there would be no comparison to that. They are different people. So when you start going down that road, you have to change out kind of everything. Because if you’re trading out Jigsaw, you’ve got to change out the doll as well.”
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Having been delayed for an entire year as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, Spiral hits theaters on Friday and it’ll be interesting to see how keen audiences are to return in their numbers to be scared out of their seats. The premise may have run out of gas a long time ago, but the presence of Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson in the cast, not to mention the footage giving off the vibes of a hard-boiled psychological thriller rather than a standard horror film, should realistically see the ninth entry top the box office this weekend.
If Spiral hits big, then it could mark a full-blown resurgence for Saw, and a tenth movie and TV show already entered development last month, so there’s clearly no danger of Lionsgate giving up on what’s about to become a billion-dollar brand should Bousman’s latest earn over $24 million globally.