Interview: Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton - Cutting into "Saw IV"
by Scott Juba
Published: October 26, 2007
With Halloween fast approaching, the next installment of the “Saw” franchise prepares to reap its slice of the box-office pie this weekend. With a new “Saw” film in theaters every October since 2005, the franchise has quickly become a Halloween tradition. “The Saw movies have quite an ingenious villain who pits people against themselves,” screenwriter Marcus Dunstan says of the franchise’s appeal. “I think a lot of folks can identify with that. If you were stuck in a room with your worst vice, could you get out of it? That’s fascinating.”
As for the franchise’s longevity, Dunstan says, “Each film has broken its back to try to be a smarter film and to try to be a more aggressive story and to reward the audience that comes back with engaging situations in an attempt to outdo the predecessors.”
Co-writer Patrick Melton adds, “The producers keep the same crew so that it’s the same people each year trying to one-up themselves. They already have the wired-in philosophy of what these films should be and how they should look and how they should sound. Everyone does the film, takes a few months off and comes back to try to make something better.”
This installment marks the first time Dunstan and Melton have penned a “Saw” film, but it won’t be the last. They will also write “Saw V” and “Saw VI.” “We pitched four, five and six [at the same time],” Melton confirms. “We had planned a trilogy from day one.”
With “Saw IV,” Dunstan and Melton promise all the blood and gore audiences have come to expect from the “Saw” franchise and more. “It’s as bloody and gory as the other ones, but it’s also very intense,” Melton says. “Once you add a layer of intensity, it makes the gore and violence seem that much more affecting.”
So, how did this dynamic writing duo first team up to write scripts? According to Melton, they met during their college years when they were members of the same fraternity. Melton recalls that their first encounter came under unusual circumstances. “I was with another friend on a Sunday morning,” he says. “Someone points down the street and goes, ‘Oh my God, that’s Marcus.’ I see Marcus with a muffler strapped to his hip being dragged down the middle of the street. What he was filming was the world’s slowest zombie chase. [Laughs].”
Dunstan soon went from being dragged by a muffler to being propelled to stardom when he and Melton won Project Greenlight in 2004 for their script, “Feast.” “That was a real shock to the system in the sense that this was the first thing Patrick and I had ever written together,” Dunstan says. “And that was years ago. It was only the second thing I’d ever tried to write, so it was an absolute shock to see how far it went. But what we did have was an arsenal of love for horror films that we could filter through and try to commit to the page.”
Moviegoers across the country can see how that “arsenal of love for horror films” translates to the Saw franchise when “Saw IV” opens in theatres today.