Interview With ‘Saw’ Filmmaker Darren Lynn Bousman

Darren Lynn Bousman has made a name for himself in the horror genre. The spooky filmmaker brought us not only Saw II, but also III, IV, and the latest installment, Spiral. There’s also Repo! The Genetic Opera, The Devil’s Carnival, St. Agatha (read our review here)… The list just keeps going. I was lucky enough to speak with Darren about his latest, Death of Me, and we discussed filming in Thailand, why he loves horror, immersive theater, and of course, horror movies.

PopHorror: What intrigued you about Death of Me and made you want to be a part of it?

Darren Lynn Bousman: Numerous factors on this one. I love any movie that delves into faith and religion. I don’t know why, but I’m always fascinated with faith and religion as a topic. I think that if you go back to my last four or five films, they’ve all kind of touched on religion or touched on belief, and it’s just something I think as a filmmaker, and as a person, that I struggle with constantly. So anytime that I can approach that subject, I do.

So that was number one. Then obviously, getting a chance to go to Thailand and work in Thailand was something that was exciting to me. I love traveling, and the older I get, the harder it is for me to travel with kids and family, so I think that any time I have an excuse to get on a plane and go somewhere is awesome, let alone get a chance to go there for an extended period of time and shoot a movie there. Getting to go to Thailand is pretty incredible.

And then the last thing is the producers. I’m a huge fan of the two producers, Lee Nelson and David Tish. It’s so hard to work with people that you legitimately like. I feel like a lot of times you don’t get that luxury, and I think on this, I was able to go off and work with these two other filmmakers that I’m big fans of.

PopHorror: That’s really awesome! So, it was filmed on location in Thailand?

Darren Lynn Bousman: Yeah, it was. It was all shot in two different places: place called Krabi, which is right outside Thailand, about an hour and half flight, and then Bangkok itself, which was where the majority of it was shot. Yeah, that was crazy. Going there and experiencing the culture and shooting with the crew like them. And it presents challenges, obviously, because I don’t speak Thai, and so part of being the director is communication. It’s all about communication. So, that was an interesting kind of experience, but it was a great experience too.

PopHorror: The scenery is just breathtaking. It’s a very beautiful movie.

Darren Lynn Bousman: Thank you. We had a great cinematographer, and I think the thing that’s just really exciting about this movie for me is you could never shoot this film in America with the budget that we had. We had such a limited budget on this. It’s such a guerilla style film that we would never be able to production design half of what we were able to just point our camera up and shoot at that was already like that. That Airbnb in the beginning of the movie where Maggie [Q] and Luke [Hemsworth] are staying? That was an actual Airbnb we found. It was incredible.

PopHorror: That’s so cool! You are no stranger to the horror genre. My favorite of yours being Repo!

Darren Lynn Bousman: Oh, thank you.

PopHorror: What keeps you drawing you back to horror?

Darren Lynn Bousman: I think, for me, horror is a genre that can imprint itself on you more so than any other genre out there. An example on this is, you go off and watch a comedy, and you laugh, or you see a drama, and you might feel sad. But that all being said, I don’t remember comedies after I see them. I watch them, I laugh, and I think that’s clever and cute, and I forget about them. But that is not the same thing with horror.

When I watch a horror film, I see it, and it stays with me. I talk about it, and I obsess about it, because there are visceral, guttural reactions that occur in horror films. I always say that I don’t remember where I was when I saw, I don’t know, Weekend at Bernie’s, the first time, but I know where I was when I saw Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer the first time, because that’s a movie that shocked me and disgusted me and challenged me. I think any time that you can have a movie that’s challenging to an audience, it will stay with them much longer.

PopHorror: I completely agree. I couldn’t tell you half the comedies that I saw in the theater, but I can tell you about all the horror movies that I did.

Darren Lynn Bousman: Exactly. And I think there’s something that is emotionally draining about horror films in such a great way. They require more out of you. I saw a movie in the theater, this film, Hereditary [read the PopHorror review here]. And I saw it with the director sitting three seats over from me. And I remember being so shocked, and so just like… screaming out loud. And, to this day, I still remember it as this great experience, because I walked into Hereditary knowing nothing about it. I saw it at a film festival. And I’ll remember that experience of seeing the movie. But again, I don’t remember a lot of the films that I see, but horror seems to just stick with me and stay with me.

PopHorror: With comedy, it’s just the same thing over and over again. But with horror, it’s evolving as it gets bigger and bigger and more audiences are seeing it.

Darren Lynn Bousman: Absolutely.

PopHorror: And I know that Covid has stalled a lot of things, and some projects have been cancelled. But do you currently have anything you’re working on or have anything coming up?

Darren Lynn Bousman: So obviously, Covid claimed Spiral, which was my next film to come out in May, which obviously did not come out in May. I’ve done a lot of immersive theater work, but I know that it’s kind of a weird… a lot of people aren’t really that versed in the kind of stuff I do with immersive theater, and it’s probably my biggest passion, so basically I run these real world horror films that take place in the real world that you can interact with and play around with.

It started up four years ago with this thing called The Tension Experience. The Tension Experience was this really intense, really macabre storyline that took place through emails, phone calls, websites and in-person interactions around Los Angeles. I did that for a year, and then every year we’ve done one since. I launched a new one that we put tickets on sale yesterday, and they sold out in about four hours.

PopHorror: I saw that!

Darren Lynn Bousman: We’re going to release new tickets on Monday. It’s called One Day Die, and it’s an at-home horror experience that you sign up, you buy a ticket, and we send you a box in the mail. That box will be used in the online portion of it. It’s a highly interactive experience that starts right before Halloween, so it’s a Halloween type of thing. We’re releasing more tickets on Monday. It sold out.

We were kind of shocked because we put tickets on sale at two, and they were sold out by 4:30 or five. I recommend that if you like horror, or you like spooky things… It’s pretty cool. It’s so interactive. You have to interact with the box to unlock the story. 

PopHorror: Just one last question, Darren. What is your favorite scary movie?

Darren Lynn Bousman: Ooohh. That changes every day. Literally every day. I’m trying to think of what’s my favorite scary movie today. I’ll give you three because they all sort of go together. My favorite genre is religious horror. Hopefully, you could tell that by watching this movie. But I love religious horror movies. Rosemary’s Baby, I think, is number one, for me. I think that it’s a beautiful film. It’s so well written and the acting in it… It spoke to me as a filmmaker. Wicker Man, which is another folklore horror film that I love, and then I would say The Exorcist or Exorcist III. Not Exorcist II, but Exorcist I or III, I just love.

Thank you so much, Darren, for taking the time to speak with us today. Be sure to check out Death of Me on VOD now.

About Tiffany Blem

Horror lover, dog mommy, book worm, EIC of PopHorror.

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