With the release of Saw X, the long-running horror franchise seems to be attempting to course-correct after the lackluster critical response to the spin-off film Spiral: From the Book of Saw. That movie was the first of the franchise to not feature John Kramer (Tobin Bell) or his apprentices carrying out the wicked game of mutilation and mayhem. Instead, it focused on a copycat killer. Now, though, Kramer and his most trusted ally–Amanda (Shawnee Smith)–are back, and if director Kevin Greutert and producers Mark Burg and Orek Koules have anything to say about it, it sounds like the original Jigsaw Killer won’t be going anywhere.
“That’s why we’re back,” Koules admitted. “These people wanted John Kramer alive.”
He continued, “He is the heart and soul of Saw. He just is. And he makes the franchise. It’d be hard to ever do a movie without him.”
So don’t go expecting a sequel to Spiral to find out what happened to Chris Rock’s character. Chances are, that chapter of “The Book of Saw” is closed. But what is it about the character of John Kramer that makes him so engaging to fans?
“I think he’s just a Sphinx,” Greutert said. “At least, he has been up to this point, where he’s somebody that has a strong moral code. But at the same time, he puts people in these unspeakably horrible situations. We can tell that his conviction drives him and I think everybody wants to feel a bit of that in their own lives.”
In Saw X, we catch up with John in the aftermath of the original Saw film. The new entry is set roughly three weeks after Jigsaw pitted two men against one another in the dirtiest bathroom you’ll ever see, and it ends before the events of Saw 2. It’s also, without question, the most you’re going to see Bell on screen as John in any of the movies.
“This story is a John Kramer story, not a Jigsaw story,” Burg teased. “And we really wanted to get to know him. He was very vulnerable in this. I mean, he’s a human.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen John in a vulnerable state. He spends the majority of Saw III dying in a bed as a doctor is forced to attempt brain surgery. If you’ve seen the trailers for Saw X, though, it’s clear that his cancer hasn’t quite advanced that far. He knows he’s on limited time but makes the journey to Mexico to undergo an experimental treatment. Of course, he later finds out the treatment was a total scam and sets out to play a game with everyone who lied to him.
As for whether we will get future movies with Bell as Jigsaw, it wouldn’t be very surprising.
“I know that they asked Tobin, ‘Do you think you have one more in you?’ And his response was, ‘[Only] one more?'” Greutert revealed. Stay tuned for a 95-year-old Tobin Bell still perfectly playing a 52-year-old Jigsaw in Saw 15, whenever that comes to pass.
In the meantime, Saw X is in theaters Friday.
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