Like the end of a certain 2004 movie, I definitely didn’t see this one coming… but I dig it. Chris Rock has been tapped to expand the Saw franchise with a spinoff film that will bring back Saw II director Darren Lynn Bousman as well as original creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell.
Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures will release the untitled new film on Oct. 23, 2020, it was announced Thursday by Lionsgate chairman Joe Drake. Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg will write the screenplay, which is based on a story conceived by Rock. The film will be produced by longtime Saw producers Mark Burg and Oren Koules, while Rock will executive produce alongside Wan, Whannell and franchise veteran Daniel Heffner. Sources say the new film will not be a reboot, as it’s expected to work within the existing Saw mythology.
“I’ve been a fan of Saw since the first film in 2004, [and] I am excited by the opportunity to take this to a really intense and twisted new place,” said Rock.
“Chris wants to put his own spin on the Saw franchise in the way Eddie Murphy put a completely fresh perspective on buddy-cop films with 48 Hours. This new Saw is going to be an event film in the making for horror fans,” Burg and Koules said in a joint statement.
“When Chris Rock came to us and described in chilling detail his fantastic vision that reimagines and spins-off the world of the notorious Jigsaw Killer, we were all-in,” added Drake. “Saw is one of the highest grossing horror franchises of all time, and it’s one of Lionsgate’s most successful film series. This upcoming film will still be as mind-bending and intense as all the previous Saw films. Chris conceived this idea and it will be completely reverential to the legacy of the material while reinvigorating the brand with his wit, creative vision and passion for this classic horror franchise.”
I have to say, this is a brilliant move for Lionsgate, which has been sitting on a gold mine, all while the horror genre is enjoying a mainstream resurgence. There has never been a better time to be a horror movie, and yet, by leaving the Saw franchise on ice, the studio risked letting the moment pass them by. Rather than make the mistake of releasing the equivalent of Saw 9, the studio realized the brand needed a new direction, and I’m not surprised that execs turned to a comedian like Rock to come up with a fresh idea. Just look at what Jordan Peele accomplished with Get Out and Us, or how Danny McBride helped to resurrect the Halloween franchise. Who knows? Maybe Rock will be just what Dr. Gordon ordered!
Personally, I consider the first Saw to be a masterpiece, while Saw II was pretty decent as far as these films go. I may not have been a big fan of the subsequent sequels, but I was there on Opening Night for every single entry. And if Lionsgate put out a ninth movie, I’d go see it with a deranged smile on my face. And yet, even a Saw fanboy such as myself can admit that the franchise has been one of diminishing turns, creatively speaking. What started out as a fun game in which Jigsaw’s victims were put to the test and pushed to physical extremes quickly devolved into an excuse to watch bodies pulled apart in creative ways. Now, don’t get me wrong, those kinds of movies have their place, but in order for Lionsgate to compete with Universal’s Conjuring universe and New Line’s It franchise and the Blumhouse brand, it has no choice but to reinvent the horror franchise, and Rock makes for an intriguing new ingredient in the Saw stew.
Bousman is a prolific genre director and while he hasn’t directed anything of note in the past decade, he did direct three of the most successful films in the Saw franchise — Saw II, Saw III and Saw IV. Clearly, he knows his way around these treacherous traps and should provide some connective tissue that keeps this spinoff of a piece with its predecessors. The story may take some new twists and turns, but visually, I imagine this film will look similar to those that came before it.
One of the greatest comedians alive, Rock is a four-time Emmy winner and three-time Grammy winner who previously wrote, directed and starred in Top Five. He’ll soon be seen in Sally Potter’s Molly and Netflix’s Dolemite Is My Name!, and he’s set to begin filming the fourth installment of FX’s Fargo in the fall. Rock is represented by ICM Partners and Untitled Entertainment.