Interview with Saw II Writer Director Darren Lynn Bousman
Darren Lynn Bousman, the co-writer and director of “Saw II,” couldn’t be happier about the release of the film’s DVD on Valentine’s Day. Although you don’t normally associate violence and gore with the most romantic holiday of the year (unless you count the St Valentine’s Day Massacre), Bousman felt Lions Gate picked a totally appropriate release date.
Deleted and Extended Scenes
During the commentary track deleted scenes are referred to but they’re not included on the DVD. Bousman said, “You know, we had such a short time to make this movie in. In cinema standards and movie standards, it was ridiculously fast so we had to know what we wanted. We didn’t have a lot of time to experiment and play around and do that.
There are things that have been deleted from the movie. There was only one major scene that was deleted that just didn’t work that took place in the hospital with the kid. I don’t know if I talked about that in the commentary. There was one sequence that before John Kramer [played by Tobin Bell] was called into the hospital room that we deleted. And then there bits of scenes that were shortened considerably. Like the needle room scene was a lot longer. The oven scene was a lot longer. But there wasn’t any sequences that we cut out.
I’m sure at some point, I hope at least at some point, they will allow me to put together some. There were sequences that we had to cut down on just for the MPAA, not because they asked us to. We self-censored ourselves. We didn’t have a lot of time. Like usually you submit to the MPAA and you wait for their ruling and they you go back and re-edit the film and try and correct the issues.
Because we didn’t have a lot of time from when we were finished editing to when the movie was released, we self-censored ourselves and cut out a lot of the violence. There was a scene where one of the characters throws up blood that we cut out. The needle room scene was about a minute and a half longer at one point, so there are stuff like that definitely did make the cutting room floor.”
Bousman said the cut he sent to the MPAA was his first cut. “That was my edit. Will you see an unrated cut? Maybe. They haven’t mentioned it to me yet but there is a possibility for an unrated cut,” said Bousman, adding, “I’d definitely be willing to do that if they ever came to me with that.”
On the Hard ‘R’ Rating
“I think that the studios seem to want to appeal to the majority of the audience. They want to appeal to the masses. I think they’re scared to offend anyone or alienate anyone and so by doing that, they take a very specific movie and streamline it to make it more mainstream. We – and pardon my language here – but we said, ‘F**k everyone else. We’re going to make this for the horror fans.’ And it just goes to show you that by dumbing down movies it doesn’t help anything.
We knew who our audience was. We knew it was the diehard horror fans. It’s funny, I was doing a live chat session on the Washington Post and I was attacked by some religious people that were very angry. Very, very angry. They said, ‘How dare you substitute character development for blood and violence! How dare you make a movie which just glorifies the blood and violence and trick people into seeing a movie.’ I can’t get it… The movie’s tagline was ‘Oh yes, there will be blood,’ not ‘Oh yes, there will be character development.’ And it just goes to show you that we told the audience what we’re going to give them. ‘We’re going to give you a hardcore R rated movie. We’re going to give you the blood. We’re going to give you the violence.’ We delivered in that and I think that the public spoke. Now that’s not to say that PG movies aren’t good. Again, if you know your audience. If you’re going to make a children’s movie, yes, make it PG. if you’re going to make a horror movie and you want to appeal to the gorehounds you have to make it R.
It’s funny. There’s been a couple of different incidents where people ask me – even family members – why did I have to make a movie so violent? And it’s the answer you always hear: ‘Well, if you don’t like that kind of movie, don’t see it.’ We’re not trying to trick you. We’re not trying to say, ‘This is a great movie of a father and son love story.’ No, the trailers tell about the violence. The poster shows severed fingers. The tagline mentions the word blood in it. I mean, it’s very much we’re telling you right off the bat, ‘Here’s what we are.’ We didn’t try to hide anything.”
Speaking of the Traps…
Were traps designed for all eight of the people inside the house? Bousman said, “No, they were ideas. This movie brings about a lot of debate about why we don’t see everyone’s traps and why this… The movie is not about the people in the house. They were a red herring; they were pawns in the much bigger game. The game was Detective Eric Matthews and his whole story so I think that if we added any more traps, it would have detoured from what the focus of the movie should have been and that was Detective Matthews and this game that he was playing.
I love blood and I love violence and I would have loved to put those traps in for nothing more than to show more blood and violence, but you know it’s funny because the biggest criticism that people give me on the film is that, ‘We didn’t get to know any of the characters from the house. The only people we ever got to hear is Jigsaw and Donnie.’ I was like, ‘Well great then I succeeded. It wasn’t about people in the house.’ The people in the house served as a reason to have violence. That’s what they were. They were execution scenes. They were scenes for the die-hard fans of blood and violence. They were red herrings to a much bigger picture. The main characters in this movie are Detective Matthews and Jigsaw and that’s great when people say, ‘That’s the only person we really got to know is Detective Matthews – and Jigsaw.’ That’s what the movie was about.”
The Development of the Story for “Saw II”
“There’s many, many ways to do a horror film. There’s many ways to approach violence, many ways to. I wanted to continually trick the audience. The minute they thought they knew what was going on, they had no idea. The way the movie’s set up, you think it’s going to be about Daniel [Detective Matthews’ son] and Daniel’s involvement in this game in this house. And I continually wanted to flip the perception of what people thought was going on. As the film progresses we start to learn there’s a much bigger story going on, and the film just keeps switching back and forth. You never really feel safe. You never really know what’s going on. It was just a device to tell the story, which I think kept things interesting.”