Darren Lynn Bousman Doesn’t Think Jigsaw Can Be Compared To Freddy Krueger Or Jason Voorhees
In the horror game, especially when it comes to the genre's iconic killers, comparisons are inevitable. Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger are considered the most notable killers in the genre, with many slasher figures either directly emulating or at loosely inspired by these murderous fiends. However, in the 2000s, via the "Saw" franchise, one new horror movie killer emerged to provide a fresh take on the typical slasher killer.
Audiences were introduced to this killer in two ways – via ominous voiceovers, and a puppet that was so creepy, you would be inspired to chuck it across the room. The killer in question? John Kramer (Tobin Bell), aka Jigsaw.
Devising traps that would later get the "Saw" franchise stamped with the moniker of "torture porn," Jigsaw's methods were unorthodox. To the unknowing, these traps seemed needlessly cruel and sadistic. Who could blame them for thinking that, though? These traps were fear-inducing magnets that never let up.
But unlike other horror movie killers, Jigsaw's traps had a purpose. His goal was to make his victims appreciate life before it was too late. Why? When we meet him, we learn Kramer is dying of cancer. Sometimes, faced with the prospect of mortality, our moral philosophies become further amplified. In Kramer's case, it was the idea that those who do not appreciate life don't deserve to live. It is this notion that director Darren Lynn Bousman argued set Jigsaw apart from his horror killer contemporaries.
'Life Is Worth It'
"He's not the typical serial killer. He's not some madman. He's not Jason or Freddy. He's not even Hannibal Lecter. He's a person with extreme beliefs and he really thinks he's making a difference. He's a vigilante if anything. We were very careful. Jigsaw never lies."
Jigsaw's main goal is to highlight to his victims the importance of living and what a gift it is. Yes, we are suffering, but we are living as well. And no one wants to live more than Jigsaw. Desperately. We see all these pieces come together in the brain surgery scene in "Saw III."
"He was willing to put himself through an excruciating amount of torture to still teach Amanda a lesson," Bousman explains. "He's no better than his victims. He will go through the pain to prove that it is worth it. That life is worth it. In that less than 1% chance he had, he is willing to go through the suffering to prove to them that it's worth it."
This easily differentiates Jigsaw from the rest of the horror serial killer pack because life is upheld over everything else. It has just been twisted in the process, and it gets challenged repeatedly by Amanda.
Hero Or Villain
Every horror movie villain needs a foil. What makes Jigsaw more intriguing is that he represents the idea of everyone being the hero of their own story. So, as a foil to him, he has his protégé, Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith). Introduced in "Saw," she is originally described as the only surviving victim of Jigsaw. It was the experience of being in one of Jigsaw's traps that saved her life and made her agree to become his apprentice. But she doesn't allow people to live after they pass the tests.
"Saw III" is where we see both characters challenged. Jigsaw is questioning whether human beings can be saved, and he goes to extreme lengths to test Amanda to see if she has changed. In the end, it breaks him that she can't be redeemed.
"We actually see him break down and cry," Bousman explained to IGN. "Imagine your entire life's work. You're on your deathbed. You know there's nothing else you can do and here's how you'll be remembered: as a killer, as a murderer. Not as someone who helped people. Not as someone who changed lives. Someone who took away lives. The one thing he didn't want to be and, as he's on this deathbed, he's realizing this."
A hero in his own mind, Jigsaw sees too late how his influence has contributed to death, he tries to save Amanda until his last breath. A complicated character, Jigsaw's overall legacy easily separates him from classic horror killers.
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