Saw director James Wan reveals where the idea for the film came from
How the Jigsaw fell into place.
It's easy to look back at the Saw franchise and write it off as trashy horror and, for a lot of the sequels at least, that may be true.
However, what's not to be underestimated is how innovative the first film actually was when it released in 2004. The low-budget indie flick shot director James Wan right to the top of Hollywood where he now routinely directs and (mostly) produces some of the most successful movies in the genre.
Looking back at his first film, which he made in his mid-twenties, the director told The Hollywood Reporter how the idea for the franchise came about.
"It was the mid-to-late ’90s, and [co-creator Leigh Whannell] and I really wanted to cut through the noise of all the indie movies that were coming out at that time," said the 46-year-old.
"So we spent a whole year thinking about story ideas. And one day, as I was in the shower, I thought, 'What about a movie with two people stuck in a bathroom with a really grungy toilet? They have no idea how they got in there, and they’re chained to opposite sides of the room.'
So I only knew the rough setup, and then I knew how I wanted the story to end with Jigsaw, this person who put them in that situation."
After pitching the idea to writing collaborator Leigh Whannell, Saw was born. It went on to rake in $103.9 million worldwide on a budget of about $1 million and is now one of the most successful horror franchises in history.
The Saw franchise has plenty of critics
Despite their commercial success, the films in the franchise have all received mixed to negative reviews, with some critics slamming their excessive violence and branding them as "torture porn".
"Leigh and I didn’t just write a shocking movie for the sake of being an exploitation, schlocky movie," said the Australian director on the franchise's criticisms. "There was a lot of thought and craft put into the screenplay, and so it felt like a derogatory term to describe it.
"But now, in hindsight, I look back at that time period with a little bit more of a rose-tinted view. Saw was very much a reflection of the era in which it was made, post-9/11. We felt that the movie, in some strange way, was kind of relevant to that sociopolitical period of time.
"There was a lot of torture going on in the world. So, from a historical standpoint, I’m OK with it, but it also helps that Leigh and I have gone on to do many other things. We are not defined by just that one thing."
After his initial success with Saw, Wan went on to create The Conjuring franchise and co-create the Insidious franchise alongside Whannell. All three franchises are expecting a release this year, with Insidious: The Red Door, Saw X and The Nun 2.
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