Aussies reboot a successful horror franchise
Michael and Peter Spierig are no strangers to blood and guts, or zombies and vampires. But the Brisbane-based filmmaking duo had to revisit their own genre with fresh eyes in their quest to reboot the Saw franchise.
Created by Australian director James Wan and Australian screenwriter Leigh Whannell, the Saw films were a commercial success grossing more than $873 million at the box office worldwide.
"Obviously we knew the series, we were fans of the series and we knew James and Leigh,” Peter says.
"We were brought in to read a secret script. We didn't know what it was until they locked us in the boardroom and said 'read this'.
"We found out it was Jigsaw, and Michael and I thought I don't know if that's what we want to do. But we both had the same reaction after we'd read the script, which was 'wow this is really good thriller'.”
Jigsaw is the eighth instalment in the franchise and is set more than a decade after the death of the Jigsaw killer, aka John Kramer.
As bodies turn up, each having met a uniquely gruesome demise, it becomes clear to investigators that the murders fit Jigsaw's modus operandi.
"There's a slight tonal shift with this movie,” Michael says. "It's been seven years since the last film and if we're not trying to offer up something new then we're wasting your time. The series has had a lot of movies and we didn't want to just rehash the same thing again.
"It's not as vicious and more of an adventure. Tonally Jigsaw is not as brutal. There are moments of levity in the film, but it's not a comedy by any means. A lot of the Saw films got pretty damn serious, so we're just trying to inject a bit of levity so it's not as grim... but it is rated R for a reason.”
Best known for their vampire film Daybreakers and their sci-fi drama Predestination, both starring Ethan Hawke, the brothers had fun coming up with the 'test' and 'games' made famous in the previous films.
"We tried to do it as practical as possible while obviously not hurting anybody; it became a very technical exercise,” Michael says. Peter adds: "There are elements of the old and element of the new. We've tried to combine elements of what people loved from the original films, those simplistic traps, but we've also done some pretty wild, elaborate stuff. It's a mixed bag.”
Unlike most films, Jigsaw's trailer doesn't give much away - a source of pride for the directors.
"One of the joys of these types of movies, I think, is not knowing that much going in,” Michael says.
"There are five people in this game and you don't know what any of them have done... but they must have something they've got to atone for. Then there's a mystery also happening outside of the game where these bodies are turning up. All signs point to Jigsaw but he's been dead for 10 years. You've those parallel stories going on and then obviously at some point they have to collide.”
The Spierig brothers hope this is the first of many more frightfully good Jigsaw films, released around the American holiday of Halloween of course.
"It all depends on how this one does,” Peter says.
"I can tell you certainly there's more story to tell. There's a lot of story there. If it works then I have no doubt that there will be more stories coming out of it.
"We're proud of it, and it's a hell of a good time on Halloween.”
Jigsaw opens nationally on Thursday.