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What Spiral's Director Wants You To Know About The Franchise's New Puppet - Exclusive

When you think of the "Saw" franchise — what immediately springs to mind? All those insidious gizmos and traps? The tape recorder voice of John Kramer (Tobin Bell) aka Jigsaw? The freaky pig masks? Or how about that demented ventriloquist dummy with the red and black eyes? The latter is the most iconic visual of the franchise, and although he is never referred to by name in the movies, Jigsaw's beloved messenger of death is affectionately known to the creators and fans of as Billy the puppet.

Now, the "Saw" franchise is back in theaters again with it's latest installment, titled "Spiral: From the Book of Saw." No, this isn't "Saw IX," either: this is an all-new standalone spin-off set in the same universe, with a whole new Jigsaw copycat killer. And he too has a marionette mascot of his own — a disturbing red-eyed pig in a police uniform. Much like his puppet predecessor, Billy, he too serves as a messenger of doom and his name is never once uttered in the movie. 

However, "Spiral" director Darren Lynn Bousman has his own name and backstory for the wretched little swine, and he shared that during a recent exclusive interview with Looper.

"In the original script, there was not a puppet. And that was one of my big things I mandated," Bousman told Looper. "I said, 'You have to have that iconic personification of what this movie is.' And the movie is a story of police and the corruption of a police force. And so we wanted to think of an image that embodied that, that the killer was using to taunt. So I really wanted a pig puppet. I personally went out and hired an artist and came back with a bunch of different designs. He's never referred to by name."

'Someone bring out Mr. Snuggles.'

Darren Lynn Bousman adds: "We on set called him Mr. Snuggles. That was just his name, 'Someone bring out Mr. Snuggles.' So yeah, Mr. Snuggles is what we call him on set. But no, he went through a couple of different designs until I thought he looked cool. And then I presented him to the producers and I said, 'This is what we want.'

As Bousman stated, "Spiral" tackles corruption in the police force and even features scenes where cops outright murder innocents civilians — a rather resonate and close-to-home topic, considering the death of George Floyd in the past year. One might assume that "Spiral" was influenced by the incident that rocked the nation, but the truth is, the film was already completed and originally slated for a May 2020 release — an entire month before the Floyd incident even occurred. It was the pandemic that ultimately delayed the movie to 2021.

Bousman did explain, though, what made them decide to pursue these themes.

What inspired Spiral's themes of police corruption?

Discussing the development of "Spiral," Darren Lynn Bousman said, "Listen, sadly, every time you seem to open up the news, there is a bad miscarriage of justice," says Bousman. "We didn't make this with the intention, or even the knowledge that what happened in the last 18 months would have happened. Our intention, originally, was let's go after different institutions. And so we literally looked at what are the different institutions? Well, there are the big banks, there's big pharma, politicians, the police. So we picked the first one that was the most 'Saw'-centric."

He continues: "But we did talk, we had numerous conversations very early on that we wanted to make sure that we did not villainize these people. Meaning that there are corrupt officers in this, but also our hero is an officer as well. So I think it was important that it was him going after the corruption, not the good people. The good people that are left alone, they're going after the corruption. If this continues, and if there's more of them, I would bet that we're going to see more of what we consider corrupt institutions. And I think that's just an interesting thing to kind of take what Jigsaw did and multiply it."

"Spiral: From the Book of Saw" is currently in theaters.