[Editor’s note: The following post contains spoilers for the entire “Saw” franchise.]

Few horror franchises have embraced their complicated mythologies more wholeheartedly than the “Saw” movies. The series is devoted to the violent misadventures of John “Jigsaw” Kramer (Tobin Bell), who kidnaps those he views as insufficiently committed to living well and places them in violent traps that force them to make impossible choices. But while Bell is synonymous with the franchise and has appeared in all but one of the first nine movies, his character was only actually alive for three of them.

2006’s “Saw III” follows Jigsaw as he plays one last game while battling a terminal case of cancer. The film ends with his death, wrapping a fitting arc for a horror villain who was, in his own way, obsessed with maximizing the minutes we have on earth. But in a gloriously complicated way, the series just… keeps going. Jigsaw’s unique brand of torture outlives him through a series of ingenues and copycats, and the “Saw” series uses a series of flashbacks and “Oh Shit This Movie Is Actually Happening During Another Movie”-style twists to ensure that Bell makes an appearance in each subsequent film.

In an interview with IndieWire ahead of the release of “Saw X,” executive producers Mark Burg and Oren Koules, who have controlled the franchise for the entirety of its 20-year run, admitted that Kramer’s death is the one creative decision they’d like to have back.

“If I had to do it again, I might not have killed Tobin Bell in ‘Saw III,’ Burg said with a laugh. “That might have been a mistake.”

The latest film resets the timeline in a way that might offer a permanent solution. “Saw X” takes place three weeks after the original “Saw,” following a cancer-stricken Kramer as he travels to Mexico City in search of a promising experimental treatment method. But even in his vulnerable medical state, the allure of making a new series of traps is impossible to resist.

Seeing Bell run his own games again is likely to delight “Saw” fans — could there be more prequels-to-the-sequels in the works? When asked about future plans, the producers did not rule out cramming another film into the original trilogy.

“We’re superstitious, so we’ve never talked about the following ‘Saw’ until the previous movie opens. So if this movie works on October 2, we’ll sit down,” Burg said, before adding a caveat: “We left it open-ended, and I want to see what happens next.” 

Lionsgate releases “Saw X” in theaters on Friday, September 29.

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