For a while there, it looked like the Saw series would be the first in horror history to claim a "Final Chapter" and actually stick to it, as it's been six years and Jigsaw had yet to rise from the dead via carefully laid out flashbacks (in comparison, the shortest gap between Friday the 13th sequels was the mere 11 months that passed after, ahem, The Final Chapter and A New Beginning). But Saw was always a bit different than the other big horror franchises - its pretzel-knot continuity and Jigsaw's death at the end of the third film made it harder and harder for the filmmakers to follow up - except for the strong Saw VI (which was also the lowest grosser), the series was on a downhill slide following John Kramer's demise. Barring a supernatural return from the grave, they'd have to keep using him in flashbacks only, which was a device that started to wear thin as the series went on. For the series to continue and also make anyone happy, they'd have to figure out a different way to keep him in the picture, or just drop Tobin Bell entirely.
Well, either they've figured it out or they just don't give a shit, because evidence is mounting that an eighth installment, subtitled Legacy, will be going into production this fall up in Canada. First was a production notice from a local IATSE chapter, and now the Ontario Media Development Corporation (those venerable horror news scoopers!) have leaked word that the Spierig Brothers, best known for Daybreakers and Predestination, will be calling the shots on this long-awaited (by me) series return. The script was previously reported to be written by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger (they wrote Piranha 3D and Sorority Row - revivals seems to be their thing), and as far as we know, that's still the case. No casting has leaked yet, but based on how we've learned what we know so far, I'd start hacking hotel reservation databases in the Ontario area to see if Cary Elwes or Costas Mandylor's name pops up.
As the resident Saw champion (a job I fought absolutely no one for), I'm still kind of mixed on this. I'm a fan of Daybreakers, but didn't care much at all for the Spierigs' first film Undead (I haven't seen Predestination), so I'm neutral on that news - what concerns me more is that the directors AND the writers are Saw newbies. The usual producers (Mark Burg and Oren Koules) are on board, as are James Wan and Leigh Whannell in their usual executive producer roles (which could mean anything), but I think the key to Saw's success was that it had just as much continuity behind the scenes as it presented on camera. No Saw film ever had a completely new creative team - when Darren Bousman directed Saw II, Whannell and Wan were still heavily involved and working on the screenplay, as they did for Saw III (also Bousman's). They reduced their role for future installments, but Bousman stuck around to direct a script by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, who remained with the series ever since. Likewise, after Bousman left, the remaining installments were directed by David Hackl, the series' longtime production designer, and Kevin Greutert, who edited every installment up until that point.
Granted, it's been a while and it's likely the movie will not be picking up directly where Saw 3D left off, so the new team could represent a fresh start. The subtitle certainly suggests as much - John had disciples (including Elwes' character, the final film's not-particularly-surprising twist), and it's not like he was the series' only villain - surely the basic concept and iconography of the series (reverse bear traps, Billy the doll, the pig masks, etc) would be enough to entice hungry fans back even if they had to deal with the first Saw film without Tobin Bell? I know I'd be curious, but I'm also first to admit that once the formula started getting stale, part of what got me excited every year was to see the new twists and turns within the ongoing storyline - I wanted to see how things wrapped up more than I really wanted to see new characters getting thrown into the mix. Now that it's mostly over (Hoffman's still alive, after all...), can I really get as into it as I once was? I've already lost interest in the next Friday the 13th and Halloween movies (though if Carpenter is REALLY involved in the latter as is the current plan, I will obviously find my enthusiasm shooting right back up), so clearly I'm growing out of this stuff. Will I be first in line, or make it one of the time-killing movies I see on a Sunday matinee as long as I have time? Guess we will know for sure once it hits theaters in 2017 - for now, I'll just wish them the best of luck and pray that they retain the other key ingredient: composer Charlie Clouser. A Saw movie without "Hello Zepp" at the end isn't really a Saw movie at all, far as I'm concerned.