Darren Lynn Bousman often exorcises his demons via his movies. The Saw II, III, and IV director explored his fascination with the power of belief in films like The Devil’s Carnival and this month’s horror thriller Death of Me. And while the forthcoming Spiral: From the Book of Saw doesn’t add anything supernatural, the material is still close to the filmmaker’s heart. As he explained in a recent interview, the franchise as a whole deals with belief. And the characters played by Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson in the ninth Saw-related film hold a special meaning for him, too.
The Kansas-born writer/director burst onto the horror scene with a well-received screenplay the Saw producers felt would work as a sequel to the original surprise hit. Saw II did so well, they recruited Bousman to direct the third and fourth entries in the series after that. Religious conviction and associated iconography played a part in later films like 11-11-11 and his pair of horror musicals, The Devil’s Carnival (2011) and its sequel, Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival (2016). Death of Me (2020) followed suit, blending elements of The Wicker Man and Rosemary’s Baby.
Speaking to the No-Prize From God podcast, Darren Lynn Bousman revealed that while his return to the Saw franchise is “not a religious kind of thing,” Spiral will “definitely get into philosophy.” Written by Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger, who penned the script for 2017’s Jigsaw, the ninth Saw movie stars Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson, in a story about a series of very familiar feeling murders.
“One of the things I love about the Saw franchise in general is the philosophies of what the killer is doing. If you go back and watch what Jigsaw is doing, I mean, it’s a philosophy.”
“No villain thinks of themselves as the villain,” he added. “That’s what makes them [compelling]. Specifically, with Jigsaw, if you really listen to what he’s saying, I kind of buy into it. He’s taking it to the extreme, but it makes sense. [As he sees it], he’s definitely not the villain in his story.”
“He’s trying to basically teach people to appreciate what they have, in their life, because there are so many out there that don’t have that opportunity,” he continued. “They’re dying of cancer, then you look, and you see someone smoking a cigarette and realizing, my dad or whoever died of lung cancer, do you realize how fucked up this is? I think that Spiral definitely has a lot of that at play. It’s too early to tell you what that is yet, but there’s definitely some stuff there.”
One thing he would talk about is the relationship between Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Rock) and Marcus Banks (Jackson). “Specifically, Chris Rock’s character is dealing with some baggage, which I and I think many others will find themselves dealing with,” he revealed. “More so with father-and-son, which, Samuel L. Jackson plays his dad. We definitely get into stuff like that.”
He also praised the performance of Max Minghella, who plays the partner of the younger Banks. The son of late Academy Award-winning director Anthony Minghella (Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The English Patient), Max is best known as Nick on The Handmaid’s Tale.
“He was incredible. Certain actors have a gravitas when they step on that,” Bousman said. “There was a weight when he stepped on set. He hyper-focused on every word that he said. He made sure that it not only made sense to him, but that he could sell it in a believable way. ‘Why am I saying this? Explain to me why I’m ending a sentence in a preposition. Is that because I didn’t go to school or I’m trying to fit in?’ He’s awesome in the movie and he was awesome to work with.”
Spiral: From the Book of Saw is currently scheduled for release on May 21, 2021. Check out the full interview with Darren Lynn Bousman on the No-Prize From God podcast.