Brace yourself for eye-popping, hair-raising scenes in SPIRAL, the new chapter in the SAW franchise. You might think you know what to expect but there's a big twist you might not see coming: Comedy. How do you inject laughs into the grim SAW series? Add Chris Rock to the mix. The comedian not only stars in the lead role (as Detective Zeke Banks), but he also played a major part in bringing the film to life.
"I’d watched a couple of the [SAW films] and I liked them a lot," Rock told us, "but also at the same time, I had this idea I was like, ‘I wonder what would happen if we put a little comedy into this.'" What's the SPIRAL-specific method for mixing comedy with gore? "We had kind of an arrangement between me and the director, Darren and the producers," Rock said, "where I was kind of in charge of the comedy, they were in charge of the gore, and basically the tie always went to the gore."
Darren Lynn Bousman, who returns to the franchise after having directed SAW II, SAW III, and SAW IV, echoed those thoughts. "Chris would always do something humorous in every take, in every scene, and then the question was, do we pull that up or do we push it back? Then it was a balancing act, it was a real balancing act because we lost some things that I think were hilarious that just didn’t fit tonality-wise."
As Rock mentioned, gore wins when it comes to SPIRAL. The new movie draws inspiration from the past while showcasing new, sadistic contraptions that force the characters to make impossible choices between death and horrifyingly gruesome alternatives.
“It’s kind of fun" to shoot those scenes, "because you’re like ‘oooh that corn syrup looks so real’ and ‘oooh you could pick up a severed hand and play with it,’” said Marisol Nichols, who plays Captain Angie Garza. Rock added, “I mean, those things are easy to act in because you’re actually scared. You’re reacting to something that’s really frightening. You don’t really have to think about it."
For Bousman, directing those scenes is not so easy. "Those take forever to film," he said. "We hung a guy by his tongue, and everything we do is practical, so a scene like that takes hours of safety rigging and harnessing. Then it takes hours of camera maneuvering and practicing… something that might appear in the movie for a minute might take us three days to film just to get it right."
Check out our full interview with Chris Rock, Marisol Nichols and the director of SPIRAL:
SPIRAL is in theatres now!
All images courtesy of Lionsgate.