When news dropped that Chris Rock had a pitch for the next Saw I assumed his involvement would stop at the concept ala Tarantino with Star Trek or Dicaprio and Orphan. But he’s actually going to be in the damn thing too. On top of that, we got none other than Samuel L. Jackson playing his dad. Talk about unexpected casting: it’s a bigger twist than that body getting up! Sharing the screen with them will be Max Minghella, (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Marisol Nichols (Riverdale). Not bad going for a part nine.
I’m definitely not writing it off. Some in the horror community already have, dismissing Rock’s involvement as desperate. I don’t see it that way – this guy makes multi-million dollar movies and embarks on multi-million dollar tours, so it’s not like he needs the work. Maybe a decade ago I’d have been a bit suspicious, but now I’d think it’s a passion project for him. He’s also seemingly a huge fan of the films, so maybe exactly what they need to recapture the glories of yesteryear and dominate next Halloween. Besides, five years ago who’d have thought Jordan Peele would be one of the most talked about guys in the industry? Frankly Saw needs people like Rock and Jackson to raise its profile again way more than either of them needs Saw.
If nothing else, their presence will get everyone talking again in a way Jigsaw didn’t. Their casting also implies Lionsgate will be putting serious money into the project given neither will come too cheap. Company chairman Joe Drake sounds enthusiastic, saying “we think Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Rock along with Max Minghella and Marisol Nichols make this film completely special in the ‘Saw’ canon and we can’t wait to unleash this unexpected and sinister new story on fans. This is the next level of ‘Saw’ on full tilt”.
Quite what the heck that means I got no clue, seeing as the plot’s still a secret. Though early word suggests Rock is playing a cop. Personally, I’d be surprised if it directly acknowledges the now fairly extensive lore or tries to answer the many open questions. Sure, we’ll maybe get some variant of Billy the puppet – but I can’t see Dr Gordon, Hoffman, or Jill showing up. 2017’s Jigsaw tried to be a jump in point for newbies, which made sense given not a lot of people would want to start at part eight and even fanboys may have been lost after a seven-year hiatus. But I’d expect a re-imagining to even ditch the last one’s twist ending, and bring the story back to basics in a largely stand-alone entry that’s neither prequel, sequel or remake. So it may be a flick about a copycat killer, or the Cult of Jigsaw that’s been explored in passing. Although I emphasise this is pure conjecture on my part.
Production has officially begun, with Darren Lynn Bousman (Saws 2-4) returning. This is also very great news. Having spoken with the guy before I didn’t see Bousman ever coming back. Not because of any regrets or grudges about the movies he already did for the property. But because since then his focus on making increasingly out there material has made him such a distinct voice: stuff like Repo, Devil’s Carnival, Abattoir and St Agatha are so much his own thing I couldn’t see him go back to doing someone else’s idea. Having his name attached makes me think he’s got a great vision for it for the project. The long-term Saw team Mark Burg and Oren Koules have also returned to produce. However, and this may be the biggest question for fans, there’s no word on if Tobin Bell will be featured. I also don’t think I want to know ’til the day.
The as of yet untitled Saw film will be out on October 23, 2020.