“We bring the audience back to the beginning of Saw and what they fell in love with,” says producer Mark Burg of a billion-dollar franchise revered for its intricate plotting. SAW X immerses us in a missing – and very personal – piece of Jigsaw’s life, and pays tribute to a protagonist and global community of Saw fans who’ve been thrilled and shocked by the fearmonger’s elaborate “tests” for twenty years.
“We’ve been working on this film for almost seven years,” says producer Oren Koules, who’s been with the series since its inception in 2003, along with his producing partner Mark Burg. “Audiences have been telling us they wanted a Saw film in which John Kramer was key to the action and at the center of the story. This is the first time you get to see him setting things in motion and then executing his traps.”
Koules maintains that John’s plans and traps will create empathy with audiences because he is a victim. “Everything that happens to him when he seeks treatment is a scam, and there’s a kind of catharsis in the way he gets revenge.
For all his ingenious traps, John is, notes Koules, “the franchise’s protagonist, and a victim who works to extricate himself from horrific situations while avenging himself and others who’ve been victimized by these fraudulent ‘medical experts.’”
“For the first time, we get to challenge John, with some of the other characters coming back at him and calling him a killer – that he can hide behind his moral code, but John is the one designing the traps. So, it made sense for John to do some soul-searching in a way we haven’t seen before, ” says screenwriter Josh Stolberg, who co-wrote the screenplay Pete Goldfinger – they also wrote the screenplays for Jigsaw and Spiral.
John Kramer (Tobin Bell) is back in SAW X, the most intriguing, unexpected, and chilling installment of the global horror franchise. Exploring the untold chapter of John / Jigsaw’s most personal game, the film is set between the events of Saw I and II. A sick and desperate John travels to Mexico for a risky and experimental medical procedure, which he hopes will be a miracle cure for his cancer. But he discovers the operation is a scam to defraud the most vulnerable. Armed with a newfound purpose, John returns to his unique work, turning the tables on the con artists in his signature visceral way, through terrifying and ingenious traps
To understand why John Kramer became the Jigsaw Killer, it’s important to remember what happened that drove him to be the Jigsaw Killer.
Bringing SAW X To Life
To bring it all to life, Koules and Burg turned to a Saw franchise stalwart, filmmaker Kevin Greutert, who is at the helm of SAW X after editing the first five films, as well as the eighth, Jigsaw, and directing Saw: The Final Chapter, and Saw VI.
Notes Stolberg, “Kevin knows the franchise better than anyone because as an editor, Kevin has scrolled frame by frame of every moment of the Saw films he’s been a part of. Kevin was the one to explore this John Kramer story.”
Greutert was intrigued by the opportunities presented by a story revolving around John Kramer. “In fact, I was overwhelmed to realize just how much further we could take the character in this story,” he remembers. “Prior to that, I had started to feel that Jigsaw had become a kind of guru or cult leader that was drifting away from what made him so engaging in the early Saw films when we saw John so clearly driven by anger over life’s injustices.”
“He also had only a fleeting, non-primary role in the earlier stories,” Greutert continues. “With SAW X, there was an opportunity to reveal John as the true main character of the franchise and show not just an origin story or another showcase of his inventiveness, but rather to take him on an emotional journey through his struggle with mortality.”
SAW X was an ideal match for a filmmaker with the subject, confirms Koules. “Kevin had a great feel for the screenplay by Pete Goldfinger & Josh Stolberg [who had previously written Jigsaw],” the producer states. From editing several of the previous films, Kevin had a great understanding of John Kramer going from cancer patient to avenging angel.”
Greutert found much to explore with John’s character, whom he saw as being much richer and more complex than simply as the architect of a series of terrifying, blood-soaked tests of those who refused to appreciate life or had abused their power to harm others.
“There is much-sacred iconography with John Kramer that I wouldn’t dream of messing with – his refusal to kill his ‘subjects,’ his respect for people he thinks deserve respect and his ability to make metaphor real when he designs his games,” Greutert details. “But one risk I was happy to take in this film was to portray John as subject to human flaws and failings. With any legacy story, SAW X presented the dual challenge of needing to uphold the franchise’s established familiarity while also venturing to introduce the story in a new, thrilling way. I also wanted to overturn and have fun with the tropes of the Saw series while taking care not to disappoint those who have long loved these movies.”
Veteran actor John Kramer embraced the opportunity to reprise his signature role in a new and unexpected way.
“SAW X is John Kramer’s story,” Bell explains. “It’s a window into a particular period in his life and he takes you on that journey with him.”
This journey began for Bell almost twenty years ago, when he emerged – suddenly, in the original Saw’s closing minutes – as the master planner and manipulator of ingeniously designed “traps” for those who wronged others and themselves.
He reprised the role in several hit follow-up films, but this new one offers a true showcase for Bell to bring additional and unexpected dimensions to the role.
“John has been a civil engineer and architect for almost 40 years,” Bell reminds us, “and what I find so interesting about him is that he’s so well versed in philosophy, science, even theology. John is well-read, intelligent, and above all, committed…unlike many of us who look around and complain about things and do nothing about them.”
“However extreme John’s methods, it’s my job to flesh him out, to be on his side, and to draw audiences into his thought processes,” Bell continues. “That’s what makes him interesting to me. John is a complex guy, and he deals with a lot of evil around him in a way we haven’t seen before.
“My job is to also bring a sense of humanity and reality to John, and make the audiences think – while they’re having an amazing movie experience.”
Bell maintains that the character has endured and been cheered by audiences for so long because of his complexity. “John thinks very carefully about his moves. We’ve been able to add layers to the character with each film, beginning with the original one from the first film’s creators, James Wan and Leigh Whannell. And I think fans will be very impressed with this new film.”
Director- Editor Kevin Greutert was born in Pasadena, California, where he graduated from Polytechnic
School, then received his B.A. in Cinema Production from the University of Southern California. At the beginning of his career, he worked as an apprentice editor in the cutting room of horror director George Romero on “The Dark Half”, moving from there to the horror comedy Ernest Scared Stupid. After rising through the ranks of editorial on such films as Titanic and Armageddon, Kevin edited the James Wan horror classic Saw. He returned to edit the Saw sequels and achieved his lifelong dream when he was asked to direct Saw VI, followed by Saw 3D: The Final Chapter. He has worked in some capacity on all ten films in the Saw saga, culminating in directing and editing SAW X. For this project he was honored to bring back Tobin Bell for his most personal immersion in the John Kramer character and has worked to make this installment one that will please both long-time viewers of Saw as well as horror newcomers.
He has also directed Jessabelle, and Visions. Kevin continues to contribute his editing talents to many other films in the horror and thriller genres, such as Bryan Bertino’s classic The Strangers, as well as Barbarian, His House, and The Blackening. An avid adventurer, he has traveled throughout Asia, Europe and North Africa. He has also written fiction for such magazines as J.G. Ballard’s Ambit, and performed music on several film scores, including the Paul Bowles documentary Things Gone and Things Still Here. His hobbies include piano, drawing, reading, and flying model aircraft. He is the grandson of Henry Greutert, a lead sculptor at MGM on such films as The Wizard of Oz and An American in Paris.
Screenwriter Pete Goldfinger started his career in sports radio working on The Jim Rome Show, but then quickly transitioned to children’s animation which is really how most horror careers begin. He worked
on Avatar: The Last Airbender, Robot and Monster and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His first feature film, written along with his writing partner Josh Stolberg, was Sorority Row, which led to Piranha 3D, Jigsaw, and most recently his second movie in the Saw franchise (Spiral). Pete was also the showrunner on the soon-to-be-released Medinah, shot and produced in Qatar.
With previous writing credits that include Sorority Row, Jigsaw, Piranha 3d and Spiral: From The Book Of Saw, screenwriter Josh Stolberg is a creator at home in the horror genre. In television, Stolberg wrote an adaptation of Clive Barker’s Weaveworld and is currently partnered with Clive on an adaptation of the horror master’s first novel, The Damnation Game. Not limited to horror, Josh is also currently writing the family adventure Teddy Bear for Netflix, as well as the Prince biopic Queen For A Day. As a director, Stolberg wrapped production last spring on Skill House, which he wrote.