ICONS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Director Darren Lynn Bousman

*Editor’s note: This interview originally appeared on ICONS OF FRIGHT’s sister site Massive Hysteria back in September of 2010. With this week’s DVD/Blu-Ray releases of both MOTHER’S DAY and 11-11-11, we thought we’d present it again to the ICONS audience completely unedited and uncut. Check it!

Considering director Darren Lynn Bousman’s impressive body of work, which spans over the course of 3 SAW sequels, the crazy rock musical REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA, an episode of NBC’s short lived FEAR ITSELF TV series and the upcoming remake of MOTHER’S DAY, it’s a surprise that we never got him in the hot seat for an extensive ICONS OF FRIGHT interview. So, with the launch of MASSIVE HYSTERIA, we decided that he would make for the ideal interviewee to kick things off in style!

Bousman invited MH over to his place for our career spanning lengthy chat, which took place in between sips of extra strong coffee and with the sleazy “giallo” cult classic STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER playing on his TV in the background. (Seriously check out the trailer on You Tube to see what was distracting us in between questions.)

Our candid conversation covered everything from his beginnings as a writer through the production of the SAW sequels right through to why MOTHER’S DAY is going to be an important film for the horror genre. We also got to set the record straight on the several remakes he was attached to, talk about hints that were dropped in his SAW films, as well as original rumored REPO casting and much, much more. Kick back and relax, this is an epic interview. Read on! -Robg.

Robg.: What are your earliest recollections of the horror genre? Do you remember the first films to really impact and scare you?

Darren: Well, my brother was huge into horror when I was a kid and he had a lot of old EC comic books, and so it started with me reading all his old EC comics, which then led to me reading his Dracula comics. It’s funny, because it wasn’t a slow step into it, I basically dove in and the first movie he showed me was HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER. And I was young! I was probably 10 or 11. Here is my first memory of horror. I was at pre-school and they had a lock in one night where basically all the kids were going to stay there over night and the parents were going to pick them up the next morning. I woke up around midnight and all the workers were watching FRIDAY THE 13th, so I walked in and must’ve been there for at least 2 kills before I started bawling. I immediately started crying and they knew they were in trouble at that point, so they quickly ejected the VHS, quickly put something else on and then said to me “you didn’t see that!” I’ll never forget the memory of them trying to tell me that I didn’t see what I thought I just saw. It was 100 percent FRIDAY THE 13th. Those two things really kind of fucked me up – FRIDAY and HENRY. And then the next one my brother showed me, which at the time my mind couldn’t even process was CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. That didn’t do anything to erase those earlier memories. Then I backtracked into finding the things most people start off with like the Lon Chaney stuff. But it started out pretty hardcore.

No wonder you make such unpleasant films! (Laughs) At some point, you’re on a steady diet of these movies and you start to realize that there are people that were behind the making of them. So when did your interest in the way films were made begin? And did you know right away that was something you wanted to do too?

The movie that I can go back to and remember that impacted me to the point where I wanted to go research it to try and figure out why I felt the way I did about it was LA BAMBA. I was a kid in grade school and LA BAMBA came out and I remember it made me so sad. Up until then, no movie had really made me sad. I’d been disgusted by movies, but no movie had ever made me sad. And I remember that was the thing that made me want to watch more and more movies. One of my best memories was going to a video store, which used to be such a cool thing. My dad would say “Alright, it’s Friday night, let’s go get some movies.” Just looking at the walls and walls of VHS tapes. It’s kind of become so impersonal going to a video store now. They have 95 copies of the same movie and then maybe 7 copies of something else. Back then, that was the most awesome thing being able to go to the video store with my dad. I saw LA BAMBA and I wanted to see other movies with those actors in it. At that point, Lou Diamond Phillips had just done YOUNG GUNS. The boxes of VHS tapes were so amazing, but then when you see the boxes in the horror section, those boxes were just so fucking awesome. And so, it became a thing that my dad let me rent pretty much whatever I wanted to rent. There were no restrictions outside of hardcore pornography. I remember my parents took me to see THE CRYING GAME. I was way too young to see THE CRYING GAME, but I was mesmerized so by that point, they let me rent whatever I wanted to rent. So every Friday night, we’d rent a scary movie, then a comedy. I watched NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET with my dad. That’s how it all started for me, having these Friday night VHS viewing parties.

I really miss those days. Going to the video store and being so captivated by the amazing box art, especially for horror movies.

I buy movies based on titles these days. Like this movie playing now, STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER. That’s all I needed to hear was that title and I’m like “SOLD!” But I remember the bad-ass VHS boxes from all the movies, you never knew what you were going to get. You’d see like MONKEY SHINES and you’d see the monkey on the front cover and as a kid think, that’s going to be awesome! I can’t wait. But it was also a bonding experience with my dad. Every October I would have the biggest party that everyone wanted to go to and I thought I was all bad-ass. Meanwhile I was probably kind of a douche. (Laughs) But the party was that we would go to all these haunted houses together. In Kansas City, haunted houses were huge. People spent millions of dollars to renovate these downtown warehouses and open them for 2 months. When you show up, there are lines that wrap around several huge city blocks. It’s a huge festivity and there were always like 10 or 11 of them downtown. People would come over and we’d watch 2 or 3 horror films, and then we’d all go out at midnight to downtown Kansas City for these haunted houses. So I have this very nostalgic feeling for that and it all revolves around horror, which is why I never really grew out of it.

What was the first time that you officially dabbled in filmmaking?

I made my first thing in middle school. I’ll never forget it, it was called MIDNIGHT SONS. And I used The Doors as a background soundtrack. The thing that was cool was that it didn’t turn out terrible. I realized that music saved how bad anything else was in the movie. You could put The Doors over anything and it’d be cool. I did that and it was a bank heist; us 13 year olds trying to do a bank heist and make it look cool. (Laughs) That was the first thing that I did, but I was writing way before that. The first story that I ever wrote was for a 7th grade English class. And my dad is my hero in so many different ways, but I’ll never forget this; I wrote this story called CABIN 9. I remember when I was in 5th grade I was already reading Stephen King, I was reading THE SHINING then. By the time I was in 7th grade, I was well versed in Dean Koontz and King and I knew horror. So I wrote this short story called CABIN 9 and got an F on it. The teacher said it was plagiarist. The teacher said, “you plagiarized this, there’s no way that a 12 year old kid wrote this.” I called my mom crying telling her they gave me an F and why. I’m sitting in the middle of class and I hear my dad coming down the hall. “Darren! Darren!” He seriously opens the door up and he goes, “Are you the English teacher? I’m Mister Bousman. You’re going to come talk to me in the hallway right now.” My dad began to berate the English teacher telling him, “I sat there and I watched him write that story. You have no right to accuse him of plagiarism.” So, I got an A. The teacher apologized to me in front of the class. So, that was my first thing that I did was writing these horror short stories.

The story as I know it in terms of how you got Twisted Pictures attention for SAW II was that you had this script circulating for THE DESPERATE, which eventually became the basis of SAW II. So where were you in your career at this point? Because by then you’d already directed the stage version of REPO THE GENETIC OPERA, right?

I had directed the REPO show by then. I moved out to LA in 2000. Right off the bat, I thought I was going to be ok because I got a job on THE X-FILES, immediately. Day one being here, I got a job on that show. And I was working all the time, making some pretty good money. But then I was fired, because I very quickly got upset. Seriously, I was a bitch. I was getting coffee, I was standing in a corner making sure that no one walked through it. It was just making me mad, it had nothing to do with filmmaking, and I guess at that point I had delusions of grandeur that I was this amazing filmmaker and they could all go fuck themselves. I got bitter and angry and I was kindly asked never to return. There was a 2 month period where I didn’t work at all. But I am a great talker in the room. Or maybe a great bullshit artist. (Laughs) Put me in any room and I’d be able to get people excited. So I talked myself into a development exec position at a place called Hallway Pictures, which was a completely urban based company. They did SHAFT and WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE and I was somehow able to talk myself into that company. I was fired after they realized I was just some white dude from the mid-west that doesn’t know shit about urban comedy. Then I was fired from VAN WILDER where I was told “we’ve done research on you. You’ve been fired from every job you’ve had.” I was actually told “you are never going to get a job in Hollywood. You’re done.” And I went through a 6 month streak where I couldn’t get a job. I couldn’t even get a coffee job. I couldn’t get shit. And so I got fed up, I got angry and I finished this script that I’d been dabbling in called THE DESPERATE. I labeled it after I was finished with it because that’s exactly what I was, I was desperate. Desperate to prove that I was a writer, prove that I was a director. And the whole point of it was just me being angry, it was my way to vent. That script went around for about a year where various different people tried to get it made, but couldn’t. Eventually, this guy said he was going to make it for a million dollars, said he was going to let me direct it, but said that he was going to co-direct it with me. He was kind of a shady dude. I had already went out looking for DP’s and I had met David Armstrong who had just finished as a cinematographer on SAW I. He looked at it and said “Do me a favor. Give me 24 hours and don’t let anyone else read this.” David brought it in to Twisted Pictures and 24 hours later, Twisted Pictures made an offer to me. It happened very quickly in the realm of THE DESPERATE becoming SAW II, but it took me 5 years to get from the point of coming out to LA, getting shitty jobs all over the place to actually being on set shooting SAW II.

When Twisted picked it up, did they always intend on making it SAW II, or were they thinking of making it it’s own film as THE DESPERATE?

Again, one of the things I’ve learned about Hollywood is that filmmaking is 95 percent politics and 5 percent creativity. I basically strong-armed myself into directing it, because I was attached to direct THE DESPERATE. It was its own independent film; it wasn’t part of a franchise, so they didn’t care if I directed it. Then when it turned into SAW II, my contract said “THE DESPERATE or any variation thereof”, and so when they changed it to SAW II, I legally was still attached to direct it. They were really cool though. They let me do it and its crazy how it just takes one instance for everything to change. I’d been out here doing the same thing for years and years and years and in one instance, everything changed.

At the time of SAW II, you didn’t really have a director’s reel that catered to horror, so you went out and shot the short film ZOMBIE which is on the DVD for SAW II, right?

I actually shot ZOMBIE twice. The first time I shot it, it turned out really, really bad, so I did it again. I shot the original ZOMBIE about 6 months prior to that and I just threw it away. It was so bad. But when they told me I had to have a short film to show them, we went out in 2 days and shot it, edited it and re-did it. It’s still a bad short film, but it was something we did in an afternoon that showed them that I could direct. And again, at that point, I didn’t know if I wanted to be a director, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Up until college, I was an acting major. Eventually I dropped acting and went into filmmaking.

When SAW II came out, it was still the very beginning of that franchise. At what point did you realize that SAW was becoming way bigger than any of you guys ever thought it could be?

Even when SAW II was done, no one knew that it was going to turn into a franchise. First of all, I was in pre-production up in Toronto on SAW II before SAW I came out. There was about a 2 to 3 week period where I thought I was going to be fired off of SAW II when they realized how big SAW I was. At that point, Lionsgate had no idea that SAW I was going to do what it was, and here I am, a first time director out there and they’ve got a huge franchise on their hands. After SAW II was finished, they wanted to put it straight to video. And there was a huge chain of emails that were sent around saying “Are you insane? This is not a straight to video movie.” And luckily it ended up going theatrical and SAW II made more than SAW I did and at that point, I think they knew we had a franchise here.

The turn around on all the SAW films is very fast, but how soon after you did SAW II did you know you’d be back for SAW III?

Here’s the reality of Hollywood and it’s sad. You’re only as good as the last movie you did. Example – Oren Peli, the director of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY can go out right now and he could make NATIONAL TREASURE 3 and be given $100 million dollars or Daniel Stamm who did THE LAST EXORCISM could go out and do the next James Bond movie. Why? Because right now, he has a massive fucking success on his hands. When SAW II came out, it was a massive fucking success. It blew records. When SAW III came out, it blew records. I could’ve done pretty much anything at that point. The deal with the SAW films and why I stayed with them was first off, it was such a great experience. The crew, Lionsgate at the time, everyone was just awesome. On top of that, it was a guaranteed release date. There was a guarantee that it was going to come out in theaters one year to the date. No film has this. Look at MOTHER’S DAY. It’s sitting on a shelf right now and probably won’t be released for at least another 6 months. Because most films don’t have release dates. I didn’t want to be in a situation where I finally had done something, and I didn’t want to wait for the next thing to take 2 years to come out, so we signed on for SAW III. And SAW III was a lot more creatively liberating for me, even though I didn’t write it, I worked on the story for SAW III probably more than I did for SAW II. And of all the SAW films that I did, it’s my favorite one because it’s the most emotional, it’s the most character driven, it’s not necessarily the best one, but in my mind was elevated above what some of the other films are. It was crazy. It happened so quickly. I did SAW II and went on a press tour for that. I was in Japan, I was in Germany. I came back, it was released and then I was on a plane 3 weeks later (to shoot SAW III). So at that point, it wasn’t like SAW had opened up and made a billion dollars and I got a million offers. That’s not what happened. SAW II wasn’t out yet, it opened, I was doing a press tour and 3 weeks later, I was on a plane to do the next one. So I think maybe if there was a lag in between there, I probably would’ve done something else. But I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad I did SAW III.

Your intent was to not do the fourth film, I remember initially you were going to walk away after SAW III. Obviously, there’s a lot of little nuggets and teases in SAW III of things that would eventually be explored in future installments. So I’m just curious (now that we’re up to the 7th one), how far in advance were you guys thinking of certain plot threads. There’s the quick flash of Betsy Russell, the thing with the letter, emphasis on Hoffman in that one scene…

It was important for me to put those little hints in, because in my favorite franchises, the films connect. They’re not afterthoughts. James (Wan) didn’t have an afterthought for what SAW II would be. He wasn’t thinking of that, he just wanted to make the best SAW film on its own. That kind of shot us in the leg in a lot of ways. With SAW II, we hoped it would be a franchise, so we started putting little things in there. I don’t like movies that fit in a box. I don’t like every question being answered, in fact that kind of makes me mad. My hope would be that you don’t answer questions because then it gives you something to talk about. There’s nothing fun to talk about with a movie when you know what everything was. So doing the letter was on purpose. What could we not answer for the audience to have them talking about it? We had our own interpretations what all these answers were, but we didn’t want to tell anyone because again, we wanted people to talk about it. I think that’s what makes movies exciting. So when we started SAW III, we specifically had 5 or 6 story points that we weren’t going to answer. So yeah, it was set up. Did we know what the end of the franchise was? No, I don’t think anyone could say they really did. Maybe on 4 we started thinking where it would inevitably go to, but when we did 3 we did not know where SAW 7 was going to go. Ask Mark Burg though, he’ll probably say differently. (Laughs)

I remember when you came back on board for SAW IV, you were quoted as saying the thing that made you want to do it was that the script by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton had a twist that totally got you. What exactly was the twist that brought you back?

Do you know what it was? I think for SAW IV, I love the idea that something was happening parallel. Everyone’s always looking for a twist now and it’s like a magic trick. You go to a magic castle, and I don’t care who you are, you’re always trying to figure out how the magician is doing it. I think with SAW, by the time that 4 came around, I was looking for the twist. I thought I knew exactly what it was going to be. And then when it got to the point where it has happening parallel and simultaneously as SAW III, that was not something I was looking for. So to me, that was exciting. The problem with SAW IV was that way too many things were going on in my life at that point. SAW II and SAW III had both been huge successes and there I was getting offers to do other bigger films. But all I cared about was making REPO. The deal was they were going to make REPO right after SAW ended. Pre-production for REPO was pretty much backed up against SAW and so on a given day, I would get 50 emails for REPO while I was doing SAW IV. And it became a nightmare. In retrospect I would’ve done it differently. SAW IV was kind of a fog.

You’re notorious for saying that a lot of SAW IV, including the sets went into REPO.

Yeah, yeah, it completely did. (Laughs)

I’ve heard a lot of rumors regarding the original casting on REPO. Are you able to talk about that at all?

Yeah, originally – Anthony Stewart Head was always my original choice. He was the guy that I wanted from day one when we first started going after people, but he’s not a name that if you say to an “executive” they’d recognize. When you say he’s in BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, then they know who he is. They wanted a name that would sell foreign. So the name that we all agreed on at that point was Patrick Swayze. Patrick Swayze was cast. He was actually rehearsing with us and he left the project about a week or two before we started recording the music. At that point, I was left with no Repo Man. It was a blessing in disguise though because I was able to go back to the producers and say “I want Anthony Stewart Head.” I launched a campaign for this guy and here we are a week before we have to record this album and we have no one, so they allowed me to bring him in. Luckily, he loved the project and it became serendipitous after that. Originally it was Swayze. He was great and he had a great voice. Patrick was really, really nice. We talked numerous times. He was in the recording studio every day. But it all worked out with Anthony Stewart Head.

And by the way, I really like SAW IV a lot…

You’re the one! (Laughs)

Well stylistically as a director, I like it! I love the progressions of your transition shots from SAW II and on. By the time we got to SAW IV, it was just absolutely ridiculous all the transitions you were doing!

I know, I know. On SAW IV, I got more creative because I didn’t care. I really didn’t care. When I did SAW II, it was the first film I ever did, and that was my one shot, I could’ve fucked it all up. In SAW III, they knew they had a huge franchise, so every one was looking at me under a microscope to make sure I didn’t kill the franchise. By the time SAW IV came around, I didn’t give a fuck because I’d proven in SAW II and SAW III that I could do it, so people left me alone. And so, we tried some radical things. That twist is pretty insane if you think about it. We had to go back and rewatch it to make sure it worked. People had to be ambiguous; they had to say things that meant two different things. The transitions, you only see about half of what we shot. Not even in the director’s cut! We shot some insane things that they were like “Come on, Darren!” This is my favorite one and I think they put it back in the director’s cut, but this is a funny story. There’s a scene in SAW IV where Jigsaw is next to Betsy Russell’s bed and he’s holding her hand and then he says something to her and throws down the watch. When he stands up, Betsy Russell is in a different outfit on the other side of the room talking to Strahm, in the interrogation room. It was a very complex thing where we build a hospital set next to an interrogation room and we had walls moving. The best was it was so subtle yet so complex that it confused Mark Burg. He was like, “what the fuck just happened?” They spent a tremendous amount of money to remove a reflection of Jigsaw in the interrogation mirror, because it blew his mind. “It’s going to confuse our audience!” It’s still in the movie kind of, but what we shot was way more elaborate.

Even the color scheme on SAW IV, I always thought stood out. In particular the autopsy at the beginning where everything looks like it’s black and white except the red from the blood when they cut Jigsaw’s body open. Was that a stylistic choice?

Regarding the color schemes, SAW always had that greenish thing that’s in all of Jigsaw’s scenes. So we decided in the autopsy, Jigsaw is dead so there would be an absence of color. Because if you look at the SAW films, everywhere that Jigsaw touches or is is green. It’s always got a green hue to it, so we wanted to do something different when we went into the autopsy, because again Jigsaw is dead and he’s passing it on to this guy.

Obviously a lot of people talk on-line about this – what kills or traps have you shot that you weren’t able to use, or that didn’t make it into one of the films?

The glass case in SAW IV and we actually shot the whole trap scene. I loved it. They loved it and they wanted to put it in SAW V. And it made me a bit upset, because why would you hold something that would work great for SAW IV just to use it in SAW V? Let’s make SAW IV great, then worry about the traps for SAW V. They cut it out of the movie and it was a big fight. But yeah, they cut that scene. There’s a lot that we almost did – probably the most upsetting trap to me, which was a nightmare, the one that almost made me have a nervous breakdown – it was the most complex thing, the couple pulling the rods out…

The rods through the pressure points.

Right, that was a real thing that we read about. A guy had a pole through him, but they knew if they pulled it out the artery would’ve broke and he would’ve bled to death. So they had to leave the pole in, cut it, cauterize it, and then slowly pull it out. So we got this great idea from that. We didn’t have the trap worked out as to how we would do it. We were already shooting SAW IV by that point. And so finally I put my foot down and said “this is what I want to shoot, we’re going to do it!” And then we realized how complex it was, because there’s no poles there, it’s all green screen stuff. Then having a 360 shot and realizing we’d have to put poles in there afterwords? It was a nightmare. I had a breakdown and started crying on the set, because my head hurt too much. (Laughs) I couldn’t figure it out. It was towards the end of shooting. Also, while shooting SAW IV, mentally I was not in a good place, because on SAW IV (and I think they’ve done it this way ever since), they shoot all the dialogue up front and then they shoot the traps at the very end. So on SAW IV, it was four weeks of people fucking talking! And I remember calling Peter Block and saying “Dude, we’re making a mistake. I’m on week four of Betsy Russell talking!” That’s why I added the glass box scene, which was never in the script. I added it at the very end of the shoot because I thought we needed something else that was cool. But yeah, I had a lot of mental instability on SAW IV, because I was concerned that the script was going to turn into a talking movie and when it comes to SAW, that’s not what the fans pay to see. We also had a different ending that Lyriq Bent and I wish we shot. I really believe that if we got to shoot the ending we wanted to do, it would’ve done something huge for the movie. What Lyriq and I planned was to do the opposite of what the twist was. We wanted him to actually figure out what he was supposed to do, because the whole thing about SAW is that nobody ever realizes what they’re supposed to do. He didn’t realize that he was supposed to let Eric Matthews go. What if he did realize it? What if he didn’t open the door? Again, make the twist being something different. He actually didn’t do it. He stops at the door, he breaks down crying, doesn’t save him. He gets up and see’s Agent Strahm with the gun. Strahm see’s Lyriq with the gun, thinks he’s Jigsaw and just shoots and kills Lyriq there. That would’ve been fucking awesome and people would’ve talked about it. We ended up not shooting it and only shooting the way it ends now, but I’m really upset because I think it would’ve been a whole lot more dramatic if we did that. Actually, I wish I could just go back and re-shoot SAW IV. (Laughs) Maybe they won’t make anymore SAW films after SAW 3D, but they can let me re-shoot SAW IV.

(Laughs) Right on. You mentioned in the SAW IV commentary that you shot at least an additional 5 minutes of scenes after Hoffman walks away at the end. What was that stuff?

They used it for SAW V. It’s funny, there’s actually a lot of the stuff I shot in SAW VI. It used to end that after Hoffman walked out of the room, he walked downstairs, got the little girl out, they walked outside, blankets were thrown over them, she was put into an ambulance – there was a whole section of them leaving the warehouse, but we ended it there. It’s a better ending where we ended because we ended on a high note. But yeah, we shot quite a bit more.

Obviously, you got Donnie Wahlberg to come back as Eric Matthews for 2 more of the SAW sequels. I remember when SAW IV was going into production, rumor had it he really didn’t want to do it. And even after it came out, rumor had it he wasn’t happy that he did it… I wonder if you could shed some light on that?

He was so mad at me. (Laughs) He won’t even talk to me right now! Donnie and I became really good friends after SAW II. Donnie and I had a run in on the first one we did together while we were shooting. Like a massive run in where I think he was ready to quit. Because here I am, a young fresh filmmaker to him doing SAW II and I always busted his balls about being in NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK before I really knew him. So I think he was pissed at me, and then one day he got really upset. It was really early on, and I think it’s because I didn’t know what I wanted him to do. And eventually Lyriq Bent came up to me and said, “You cut a scene together. Just show him a scene. Let him know that you know what you’re doing.” So I called Donnie and Dina Meyer over and I showed them a scene. I do a lot of weird shit that might not make a lot of sense to people. A lot of what I do on the SAW films is what’s going on in their head. So there’s a scene where Donnie’s standing at a fence, and I go, “OK, Donnie stand at the fence, don’t make any emotion, just stand there and don’t do a thing. OK, now punch the fence! OK, now scream like a tiger.” And he’s like, “What the fuck? I feel like an idiot!” “Donnie, just scream like a tiger!” And then I’d say, “Donnie stand there and jump up and down. Turn the camera on and off.” He’s like, “what the fuck am I doing?” So I showed him that finished scene, it’s actually in the movie, and it’s cool because it’s what’s going on in his head, so the minute he saw it cut together, he was like, “I’m sorry. I get it now.” And ever since then, we became really good friends. I called him back for SAW III. He didn’t know if he wanted to do SAW III. And I’m like “come on!” He’s like “but I ended on top in SAW II.” “No, no, come back to SAW III for like a minute.” “Alright, I’ll come back but I want to be in and out in a couple of days.” And then when I called him on SAW IV, he said no. I played the guilt card on him. “If you don’t come, they’re not going to make the movie and blah, blah, blah.” And he’s like “fuck!” He was so angry at me, but he flew in and did it and I think the entire time he was pissed at me. (Laughs)

He did kind of go out like a bitch in SAW IV.

That’s what he was saying! “I’m crying. I’m a fucking bitch up here! Why couldn’t you let me die in the bathroom!” (Laughs) Yeah, it was pretty bad.

What’s it been like for you having been with the SAW franchise for 3 films to now see the subsequent sequels as a fan?

It’s a little weird. SAW V is a weird movie and this is no disrespect to (director) David Hackl – I think they churn them out so quickly that SAW V was not as fleshed out as it could’ve been. I would’ve done SAW V differently. I wouldn’t have done some of the choices that he did, that’s not to say that what he did was bad at all, it’s just that I would’ve done it differently. It didn’t seem to connect and there were things in it that I just didn’t get. I really, really, really liked SAW VI, the one Kevin (Greutert) did. I think it revived the franchise a bit. I think I was the one that was like jumping the shark in SAW IV, I was like jumping in mid-air and then it ended. And David Hackl had to continue my jump. And Kevin Greutert brought it back a little bit. I think David is a great director and he’s a great production designer and I’m looking forward to see what David does next. I just wish they would’ve spent a little more time between the movies and fleshed out those stories a little bit better.

Well, by SAW IV, the series became episodic, much like a television show and they purposely didn’t answer all the questions raised and that frustrated fans. It felt like things kept being saved for the next movie and that doesn’t make for a satisfying experience for the fans on the current movie.

It does frustrate people. And at that point also, SAW became so huge, that instead of going back in under a microscope and making sure that everything made sense and questioning if this would deliver to the fans, it was like “We’re fucking SAW! We’re awesome!” That’s the problem anytime anything gets big, you start to believe the hype. You can’t believe the hype. You have to go back and do exactly what you did on SAW I and SAW II (and SAW III) and make sure that you look at everything under a microscope. My problem was I didn’t do that on SAW IV. I didn’t. I was making REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA when I was making SAW IV and so I learned my lesson. The funny thing is a lot of people like SAW IV. I guess something worked in it. I like a lot about it. The hair trap I love. And I do like seeing Donnie’s head get squished by those two ice blocks. (Laughs) That’s pretty awesome.

You got to do an episode of FEAR ITSELF titled NEW YEAR’S DAY, which started your working relationship with Briana Evigan. So what was it like going from feature films to tackling a TV show?

That was after REPO and it was while I was still cutting REPO. The problem was when I did NEW YEAR’S DAY, it was a vacation, it was to get away. I had become obsessed with REPO. It became all immersive. I had been for 2 and a half years fighting and fighting to get REPO made and fighting and fighting to get it released. And so this NEW YEAR’S DAY came up and it allowed me to go on vacation for 3 weeks and do something else and step outside of REPO. It was actually not the most fun experience. Again with SAW, I was in that family, I knew everything, I knew everybody, I knew the story, I knew the world. So that was that. With REPO, I spent 10 years trying to get the movie made, so I knew that world, I knew what I wanted to do. With NEW YEAR’S DAY, it wasn’t that. I flew into a city that I’d never been to before, and it was like “you shoot in 7 days. Here’s your script. Figure it out.” And it was extremely difficult. The thing with Briana is funny – I have a crush on Briana and she knows it, everybody does. I saw her in STEP UP 2 and I said to my wife, fiancé at the time, my next thing I’m doing she’s in it. So I called her agent up and said “I have a crush on your client, I want to put her in this thing.” (Laughs) So she said sure and flew in and shot the thing. I was like this creepy old man. (Laughs) By the end of this show, we became really good friends, we were hanging out and she was just so down to earth and really cool. I felt bad because NEW YEAR’S DAY was on TV so I had to adhere to all these rules, and there were guidelines and restrictions, and I wanted to work with her when none of that applied; where I could actually work with her. So I thanked her for doing NEW YEAR’S DAY and told her I’d put her in the next movie that I do. Luckily, we did MOTHER’S DAY together.

For a while there, you were rumored to be attached to several remakes – everything from SCANNERS to HELLRAISER to CHILDREN OF THE CORN. Did any of these ever come close to really happening with you as the director?

SCANNERS was really close. I was stoked about that one. David Goyer wrote the script and it just didn’t come together. David turned the last draft in 4 days before the writer’s strike. Everything during that time just kind of fell apart. Yeah, I was attached to CHILDREN OF THE CORN, SCANNERS, HELLRAISER, BATTLE ROYAL. Well, BATTLE ROYAL was more me wishing to be attached to it. (Laughs) But the issue – for every one movie I make, there’s 25 movies I’m attached to that’ll never happen. There are all these movies that as a director you never know which ones are actually going to go through. And so you put yourself on as many as you actually believe in as possible and out of those, one maybe two will happen. Those were all Dimension movies. I signed a deal with Dimension right after SAW II. What makes money is sequels and remakes, so Dimension basically pulled out every remake that they had and tried to get me attached to them. I couldn’t wrap my head around HELLRAISER. I met with Clive Barker. Clive and I came up with a take which I loved. Bob (Weinstein) and team did not love it. Here’s the thing – the only way I’d do a remake is if the original creator endorses the vision. I wouldn’t want to do a remake where Clive Barker would be pissed off or his fans would be pissed. So I wanted to meet with Clive and come up with a take together on it. So Clive and I came up with something that we really liked, and it just didn’t come through. SCANNERS, it was funny because I got to meet David Cronenberg and it was bad-ass meeting him, but I went up to him and was like, “Hey David, I’m actually attached to the SCANNERS remake” and he looked at me and goes, “Yeah, that’s great.” And walked away. (Laughs) He was not very happy about that. SCANNERS just didn’t come together. The script was a bit off. I flip-flopped on CHILDREN OF THE CORN. Originally I didn’t want to do it, I passed on it. And right after I passed on it, I thought fuck I want to do it. But by then it was too late, I was already out of my Dimension deal. CHILDREN OF THE CORN is something I would remake now that I think about it. I had a big problem wrapping my head around the concept of how can a town be completely overrun by children, where they basically killed all the parents and they’ve been living like this and nobody knew about it? I couldn’t figure it out with today’s technology. With cell phones, with PDA’s, with laptops, with iPad’s. I didn’t buy it. And they wanted it to be modern, they didn’t want to set it as a period piece. I couldn’t figure it out and then I finally did figure out a take into it, but by that time I had moved on.

One thing I thought that was interesting that you mentioned on one of your commentaries was how pivotal music is to you while you’re developing projects. I was wondering if you could talk about that a bit? Do you make music mixes when you get a piece of material that you’re developing or during the writing process?

It is. I’m writing the script right now for this movie called 11 11 11 and it’s kind of consuming my life. I try to write based on a song. I always try to base whatever I’m writing on a particular song, whatever that movie is to me. So when I wrote THE DESPERATE for example, there’s a song by Bright Eyes called Arienette. If you listen to the lyrics to it and you actually go back and watch SAW II, you’ll see some exact parallels from it. When I was coming up and we were doing MOTHER’S DAY, it was the same thing. There were 3 or 4 songs I actually played on set, prior to shooting. In fact, Rebecca (De Morney) had me play these songs for her in pre-production on set. I think music moves people, it makes them feel a certain way, it triggers emotions that might have been oppressed. And I think music is the thing that is a character. It will end up being a character in your film. So yeah, I always think when I’m starting a project, what’s the feel? What’s the music? Is it Tom Waits? Is it REM? Is it MUSE? Who is the feel of it and I’ll make a mix. For example right now there’s a playlist on my computer called 11 11. And it has things like PORTISHEAD and THE DITTY BOPS. It’s like weird music with female singers, because it’s ethereal. Again, I always do that. I think people take for granted how important music is, especially when it comes to creating art.

You’ve been really fortunate to work with some amazing actors from movie to movie. Tobin Bell for the SAW movies. You’ve got guys like Paul Sorvino in REPO. Rebecca De Morney now in MOTHER’S DAY. How do you get some of these names to work on your projects? Is it a matter of luck? Persistence? Or maybe a bit of both?

Well, each movie is completely different. I have a list of people, the Bousman repertoire, that will be in everything that I do. Once you’re in that, there will always be an open invitation for you to come back. For example, J. LaRose is a very close and dear friend and he will be in everything that I do. If he wants to be. He doesn’t have to be, but the offer will always be there. Lyriq Bent’s another example. Tony Nappo who was in SAW II, I brought him back in SAW IV. He was in REPO and he got cut. He’s in MOTHER’S DAY. Alexa Vega is in MOTHER’S DAY. Again, these are people I connect with that get me. Here’s the issue, anyone in the creative field, be it an actor, director, producer, there’s stories about you. “I heard he’s insane and did this, this and this!” It always sounds bad unless you were there and you witnessed what caused or whatever led to it. These are people that have been with me from the very beginning that know who I truly am, that the stories aren’t real. Lyriq Bent was the first guy to stick up for me when Donnie got upset. Lyriq gets me. Now Donnie gets me. These people get me. And I think it’s more fun to work with people that are your friends. And they’re incredible actors. MOTHER’S DAY and REPO were crazy with the casting. REPO, I cast every single person in it. In the very end, everyone I wanted I got. I said I want Alexa Vega. I got her. I said I wanted Sarah Brightman. We got her. Terrance Zdunich was already in it. Bill Moseley was a personal friend of mine so I went to Bill Moseley. With REPO, I probably could’ve gotten anyone because it’s such a weird movie. Actors get the same script over and over and over again. They want to do something different, something that’s creative and challenging. So I lucked out that I got everyone that I wanted on REPO. MOTHER’S DAY was crazy because I had to fight harder to get the brother’s more than anything else. I really wanted Patrick Flueger, Warren Kole and Matt O’Leary. The producers wanted big names. It took me 3 months to get Patrick Flueger who plays Ike. They met with every actor in town and finally they let me have him. My favorite was Deborah Ann Woll from TRUE BLOOD. Deborah comes in and the minute she walks in the door, I said “You’re cast, you don’t have to read.” She’s like “what?” You’re cast! I was such a huge TRUE BLOOD fan, so she was cast right as she walked in. Rebecca (De Morney) was hard because there were so many different avenues to go with mother. Originally we were talking about going with an older mother, like an Ellen Burstyn. Nah, let’s go with a more subdued Sissy Spacek like mother. Then we had rewatched THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE and Rebecca’s bat-shit crazy in that one. The problem with Rebecca is she’s beautiful. When she came in, we’re all like ‘she’s hot!’ She’s not motherly. How do we make her look like we don’t want to bang her? I’m sure she’ll love me saying that. I have lucked out. But probably that’s the hardest thing about filmmaking now is that directors in this genre are stuck in a specific budget range, unless you can cast higher level names. The problem is that no actor wants to do a movie that glorifies violence or that’s fucked up and dark. You’re not going to get the high level actors for that, so it’s a catch 22. You have to cast a high level name or you can’t get a high level name in this genre. I’m talking like to get George Clooney to be in a SAW movie or Brad Pitt to be in a HOSTEL movie, it’s not the easiest thing in the world. It’s a very hard catch 22 casting these types of movies.

How have you changed from movie to movie as a director in terms of your relationship with the actors? What have you learned from them on each experience and going into the next one?

I’m more an actor’s director now. I wasn’t on SAW II. I think the biggest change that happened to me – in the SAW films, it was all about the cool transitions, the camera set-ups, etc. But with that said, I majored in acting. That’s what I wanted to do. So I came from a place of knowing what they want to hear. Knowing their fears and knowing their insecurities, because I had them when I was on stage. I was doing big theatrical productions. I was 70 pounds lighter and went to the gym all the time. So I knew to some extent what to say. Also, I’m a very outgoing & personable. I go out with the cast, I hang out with them, so we form these relationships and bonds. With REPO, I’m dealing with Sarah Brightman, I’m dealing with Anthony Stewart Head. At that point Alexa Vega, I had just met and she’d worked with Robert Rodriguez, Martin Scorsese, Joss Whedon. I was forced to talk to them in a way that was all about their performance, because I wanted them to create something that was memorable long after you left the theater. That translated very much into MOTHER’S DAY. MOTHER’S DAY is a success of epic proportions on an acting front, because here’s a movie that could’ve been just genre fare fodder. It could’ve been any one of these countless horror titles of home invasion. But I think focusing on Rebecca’s performance and Deborah Ann Woll’s performance and Shawn Ashmore’s performance elevated the movie to make it more realistic. Now, I get more out of talking to the actors than I do talking to the DP. I’ve used the same DP now on 3 different things. I trust him. He knows what I like, he knows what I don’t like. So I’ll talk to him for a second, and trust him to do his job, so that I can go talk to the actors. Because in the very end, they’re the ones that are going to bring the performances to life. And great actors can make a bad movie excellent. I watch a lot of low budget films, a lot of terrible movies. The story can be awesome, the camerawork can be fucking great, but if you have a bad actor, I lose interest. I think I’m now realizing the importance of acting and getting those performances out of the people.

Of all the remakes we mentioned, why exactly MOTHER’S DAY?

I always said I would never do a remake of a movie I actually liked. And I don’t dislike the original MOTHER’S DAY, but it’s not a great film. I think Lloyd and Charlie Kaufman would be the first to say that. It had a great idea. It had amazingly horrific, hilarious performances. It was ahead of it’s time and had social commentary in it, but it doesn’t stand up today. If you were to honestly put MOTHER’S DAY in front of a bunch of cinephiles and say what do you think of this movie? It’s a product of it’s time. It is what it is. If you look at BRAZIL or BLADE RUNNER, those movies hold up. There’s things that are amazing about them that you can’t possibly make any better. With MOTHER’S DAY, it was a film I looked at where I thought OK, I can do something unique and different with this without stepping on Charles and Lloyd’s toes and basically tearing their film apart. That was the first thing I said to them. I don’t want to fuck with your movie. This is your movie, MOTHER’S DAY from 1980. I want to do a different version of this movie. What would happen if that family lived right now and in today? What if we got rid of the comedy approach and did a dramatic approach? Take the same characters you created but take a dramatic approach with them. It might come off as insulting remaking someone’s movie… I mean, I guess it’s cool because you get money, but if someone 20 years from now came to me and wanted to remake REPO, I’d get upset because I put such passion into it and it had such an impact on my life. That’s how everyone feels that spends years of their lives devoted to something. For Charles and Lloyd, that was their REPO 20 years ago. So I didn’t want to go through and try to do a carbon copy of what they did. If you want to see that movie, go rent the original MOTHER’S DAY. But I did like the concept of a mother and her perverted relationship with her sons and the people around them. That’s why I picked MOTHER’S DAY because it was a movie I felt I could do something unique to that wasn’t done back then when they made it.

Are you a fan of the other Troma titles?

I am a Troma fan. I have a ton of their movies and I think they’re awesome because they don’t give a fuck! They don’t care. They just go out, have fun and make their movies. And the problem was, if I were going to do SCANNERS or CHILDREN OF THE CORN, I actually legitimately like those movies for what they did. How do you go in and remake a Cronenberg movie? How would you do that? The weight on your shoulders to do something like that is insane. With MOTHER’S DAY, the fact that unless you’re in the horror community, the majority of people have not seen the original.

I had a really tough time processing your version of MOTHER’S DAY after seeing it. I liked it a lot, but it’s a very unpleasant movie and that’s not normally the type of genre film I like to see. While I understand their importance to the horror genre, I’m not exactly a huge fan of things like LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT or THE HILLS HAVE EYES or FUNNY GAMES. Again, while they are good movies, they’re all unpleasant experiences. That said, MOTHER’S DAY is your best film as a director. Of that sub-genre of horror, it’s the best of this type of story. And the ensemble of talented actors in this are unlike anything I’ve seen in a genre film like this.

Well, thank you. I appreciate that. I’ll tell you why I think MOTHER’S DAY is an important film and this is just a side-tracking of the fucked up nature of Hollywood. Staci Wilson from Horror.com came up to me after the movie and said “I don’t know what to say. I just feel empty inside.” Uncle Creepy from Dread Central, I showed it to him and the next day, he said, “I just want to go in the bathtub and cry.” The reason that I love that comment specifically about this film is that it leaves you with a cold, hollow feeling that when you walk out of the theater, you’re either mad, you feel upset or jipped, you just want to talk to someone about it because you’re thinking “what the fuck did I just watch?” That translates negatively when you’re going to screen it for a studio because there’s nothing happy about MOTHER’S DAY. There really are no laughs. It’s not a fun movie, it leaves you and it rapes you emotionally and then it just ends. I love that because it’ll stay with you a day or two after you leave the theater and that’s a hard thing to do with movies these days. Look, I loved PIRANHA 3D. Seriously, loved it. But I forgot about it a half hour after I left the theater. I really, legitimately like Alex Aja’s movies, but I forgot about PIRANHA 3D right after I saw it. The same can be said for the majority of horror films coming out these days. You pay your $12 dollars (or $20 in PIRANHA’s case) and when the movie ends, it’s over and you’re onto the next thing. I want to do films that it’s not over when the movie ends. That you obsess over how much you hate the movie ala REPO, which there’s a fraction of people that spend so much time talking about how much they hate it, or there’s a fraction of people that drive hours and hours 2 years after it’s released to see REPO in theaters. REPO was a dangerous film, but it’s a film that continues to live on. It continues to live off of other peoples hate and other peoples love. Those are the movies I want to do. MOTHER’S DAY, I don’t know if it’s going to get the same kind of hate it or love it reaction, but it’s definitely going to make you upset when you leave the theater and that’s what I want. I want people to feel empty when they leave the theater, because that’s the thing, you’re actually feeling something. That’s the big thing with film, the great films make you feel when you leave the theater. I remember when I saw REQUIEM FOR A DREAM for the first time. For a week after the fact, all I wanted to do was talk about REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. About how disgusted and disturbed and horrific I thought it was. I guarantee after I watch STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER right here, I’m done talking about it. (Laughs) That’s what I aspire to do with my movies. I learned more about filmmaking on REPO then I did on any of the SAW films, because I saw the importance of how you leave an audience. Forget the movie itself, but what is the experience I as a filmmaker want to have with the audience? And I think when I went into MOTHER’S DAY, as Scott Milam and I were coming up with the idea, we thought how do we want to leave the audience? How can we accomplish that? To me, it was not about cool transitions this time. In fact, we cut the transitions out because it was too gimmicky. I shot probably my best transition ever and we cut it out. It killed me because it was so awesome. They’re on the phone trying to get a hold of mother, and Ike grabbed the phone and he’s like “Lydia! Where are you?” And you see a 360 degree of the house. He grabs the phone and when he comes back, we removed all the walls and we push outside and it’s raining outside and she’s on the phone. Then we pull back, she walks forward and when he crosses back, the wall’s are back up in place. It was awesome, it took us a day and a half of choreography, but it got cut. It became too gimmicky. Where MOTHER’S DAY succeeds is in the performances. I didn’t need to do gimmicks to sell the fear, to sell the terror. They did it themselves. Deborah Ann Woll. Shawn Ashmore. Patrick Flueger. All these people sold the performances and hopefully that’s what I’m going to start doing more of, selling performances and not just gimmicks.

I know your original cut was a substantially longer cut than this final one, which in itself runs a solid 2 hours. The thing I grapple with when it comes to this film is if you’re going to have this much unpleasant stuff happening, I need a few glimmer’s of hope here and there to balance it out. In other words, I want to see these people fight back and I think you were able to get that moral balance in your current cut.

It’s funny you bring this up because it’s the biggest critique the movie gets. The first version of the movie was about 4 hours and 30 minutes. I shit you not! It was an epic. Unlike the SAW films where for DVD you’ll add back in 20 seconds here or in SAW III’s case 12 minutes back in. There’s hours that were cut out of MOTHER’S DAY. Entire characters that were cut out. There was an entire character arch of a guy that shows up at the house that gets killed by mother and Addley. The people downstairs have to grapple with this whole thing. And in the current cut, he’s gone, he’s not even in there, he sort of is, but we don’t show him. What I wanted to do with MOTHER’S DAY and I think this is what most people might have a problem with – there are no good guys and bad guys in it. There’s no more white and black.

Did you base this at all on fact?

This is based on a true story, which is not a secret. This movie is based on the Wichita murders, which is a script I tried to get made for years and years and years. And the true stories was that these 2 brothers break into a house on Christmas Eve not realizing that people were downstairs having a Christmas party. They accidentally shoot one of them trying to calm the situation down and they were fucked. They essentially killed them one by one. It was a horrific story, a horrible fucking story. In reading the police files about it; one person survived it, hearing her testimony of this story is one of the most horrific things ever and I wanted to try to do something that was more akin to real life. REPO was completely otherworldly. SAW is almost like a comic book when you think about it. I wanted MOTHER’S DAY to be something that is more realistic in that things like this happen and you can’t really pick out the good guys or the bad guys. The first note that I got when I turned the first cut in was “you need to make the villains villainous and you need to make the good guys great. They need to fight back.” The first thing I cut was all that shit out. I decided I’m going to make a choice with this and be ballsy. I have those scenes. I have the scenes where the bad guys are villainous and the scenes where they almost get out and there’s those moments of hope. I got rid of them to make that shade of gray. The whole movie is like a gray overcast cloud with this foreboding sense of dread. I know exactly what you’re talking about. You want those moments of hope, but I wanted to wade those out of this movie. It’s a horrible thing to say.

It’s tough, it’s tough. The balance was there in the cut I saw, but there was a while where I thought the villains were just too much. And I kept thinking please somebody, do something! It’s a tough movie and it’s a tough movie to balance.

It is, and this is a movie that I will be excited about putting the directors cut out for, because it’s so different. It reminds me of THE DESPERATE. If I ever get to make my version of THE DESPERATE, what was cool was it was real people really killing each other, but they were doing it of their own free will. The purpose of THE DESPERATE was people who were desperate in their lives were given the opportunity to have the desperation cured. A mad dying of cancer would be given a miracle drug that’s not on the market yet if he does this. A child who has been kidnapped by the mob, we’ll pay the mob debt off but you have to play this game. These people willingly sign this contract to play this game and it’s kind of like BATTLE ROYAL where they go to a house and they’re all given a weapon and they say one person has to die every hour. It’s a lot more complicated, there are a lot of rules, but to me what was scary was watching a 70 year old man kill a 19 year old girl. Not watching the 19 year old get killed, but watching this 70 year old man struggle to have to kill her. He’s bawling, he’s crying, he’s apologizing as he’s doing it. Forget the blood, forget the violence, forget the girl screaming, it’s him apologizing for doing this thing. That to me is true horror.

It’s funny you mention that because the ATM scene in MOTHER’S DAY is what probably affected me the most. And not in a good way!

I’m so sorry! That was the biggest debate for the movie. Keeping that scene or losing that scene and we tested it. The whole reason we did the test screening was because of that scene. Certain people wanted it out and certain people wanted it in. I wanted it in. People were saying it makes you lose compassion for everyone, you can’t keep that scene in there. I said no, put it in and let’s test it. So when you do an NRG test screening, they come back to you with a booklet, and the booklet essentially says everything about the movie in the audience’s opinion. It says who their favorite characters are, who didn’t you like, where does the movie drag, etc. One of the questions is “favorite scene”? “Least favorite scene”. So they show it to 400 people. Book came out and for least favorite scene, ATM scene and it says 1/3rd of the audience thought this was the most horrific scene of the whole movie, not needed, blah blah blah. There was a whole page devoted to it. They’re like “see? We need to cut it out!” We flip the page. Most favorite scene? The ATM scene. Over a 1/3rd think it’s the best scene. So it was both the least favorite scene and the favorite scene by the audience. That’s when you know you have something. When people either hate it so much or love it so much. It was 50 percent right down the middle. So that was awesome and that’s when you know you’ve got something that’s going to spark debate, when you touch on something that they both love and they hate. So it stayed in.

You mentioned your inevitable director’s cut for this…

The thing with director’s cuts is they’re pretty much the same as the theatrical cut. At the end of SAW III when Angus comes in with the circular SAW, my director’s cut was different, that whole section. The term “director’s cut” isn’t really what it is. You have 10 weeks to do a cut of a movie. And at 10 weeks you present your version of the movie. Then you go and you have to show it to the producer’s, the studios and they give you notes. 50 percent of the time, you actually like the notes. It’s like a clay. I spend 10 weeks molding a clay, then someone comes in and pushes the clay however and you like 50 percent of what they do and that becomes your director’s cut. Then you keep taking notes and going through the process, and at some point your version goes this way, and theirs goes the other way. With the SAW films, there’s pretty much the same version up until the very end. It was usually some small things that I wanted to do and the producers didn’t. So it’s not that different. MOTHER’S DAY is a completely different movie. It’s not that my director’s cut isn’t good. It’s just too long. It’s an epic horror film where there are entire sequences of Rebecca De Morney that are amazing. She kills someone in the movie and gives this monologue that is so fucking powerful and I just didn’t have time for it. I had to cut 2 and a half hours out of MOTHER’S DAY. On the SAW films, I usually had to get it down by 20-30 minutes. 2 and a half had to go out of MOTHER’S DAY.

Is there a cut you prefer? Will we get them both on the DVD release?

The one that’s being screened and that will be the theatrical cut is the best cut and it’s the perfect amount of time. If it was one note longer, it’d be too much. The majority of insanity happens towards the end of the movie, I mean a lot happens leading up to that, but it’s so much in that last 12 minutes which is why I think you feel so badly walking out of that movie. In my version, the director’s cut version, that end sequence is 3 and a half hours in. Can you imagine? The performances are awesome and I’m not just saying this. There were some award winning performances that these actors gave me, but at the end of the day you have to do what’s best for the movie. The saddest part is Ike and Addley. Those two guys gave some of the most amazing performances I’d seen in a genre film, and I had to cut 70 percent out of it. Because I wouldn’t cut, I’d keep it on them and they’d just improvise and do these amazing things. I’m excited for people to see the directors cut – the director’s cut is not any better than what you’re going to see in theaters, it’s just different. Here’s the thing – I love PULP FICTION. I love THE BIG LEBOWSKI. Anytime a new edition of those movies comes out, I go out and buy them. Even if there’s only one second more to them, I don’t care. I’m obsessed and I have to have them. I think you have to love the original cut to want to see the director’s cut, because it’s just that, expanded.

In the meantime, make sure to visit the official website: http://www.mothersdaythemovie.com

Visit Darren’s Blog: http://www.darrenlynnbousman.com

3 thoughts on “ICONS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Director Darren Lynn Bousman

  1. Actually he only directed Saw II, SAW III and Saw IV, there’s no “over 3 saw sequels”  So I don’t know where you get “over 3 saw sequels” And I’ve seen these saw films all 7 of them many, many times, more times than I can count… ok, not that many… but I do watch them every time they’re shown on SyFy.

  2. It was meant as “over all of the SAW films, 3 of them were his”.* I guess I should have used the word “of” all the SAW films but then again, this article is over 12,000 words so one off ain’t that bad.

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