Mandela Van Peebles Tells Us Why The Latest Saw Movie Is The Best One Yet

Just in time for Halloween, Boston fans of the thrilling Saw movie are preparing for a special treat Friday night as the eighth installment of the SAW/Lionsgate movie franchise, Jigsaw, hits theaters. The movie stars Mandela van Peebles, who was recently seen in the A&E TV miniseries “Roots,” and also appeared opposite Nicolas Cage in the film, USS Indianapolis: Men Of Courage.

The Saw collection has grossed more than $870 million at the worldwide box office and is one of the most successful long running horror franchises of all time. The latest installment centers around an investigation around several deaths with evidence pointing only to one suspect: John Kramer, best known to all of us as Jigsaw, who has been dead for a decade. (You can get advance tickets now for the movie at Showcase Superlux).

Mandela van PeeblesPhoto Credit: Dexter Brown

We recently caught up with Mandela van Peebles, who plays Mitch in the movie alongside Weymouth’s own Tobin Bell (John Kramer, aka Jigsaw) to find out why he wanted to get involved with this project and what makes this one different than all the other Saw movies.

Tell me about your role and the latest movie, Jigsaw.

It keeps with the past Saw movies, so you can definitely expect some of the same scares, but with this one, the technology that is available today is just so much better than when the first one came out (in 2004). The special effects and prosthetics they use are a couple of notches higher. You can still expect the same suspense and surprises from the others. What I like most about this one is that it’s not the same format. At the end of the movie, it will all make sense. I actually haven’t even seen it all the way through yet, so I am excited to see it as well.

What made you want to get involved with the Saw movies?

This was the first horror movie I have worked on and it was amazing to see how things are done on set. As far as work goes, this was the most fun job I have gotten to do. When you get on set and are able to see how the design and traps are made, it’s really incredible. I come from a big family and my father (director, actor, producer and writer Mario van Peebles) always had a blast scaring me and my brother.

Which horror movies have scared you the most?

I would say American Werewolf in London that I watched as a kid and The Orphan. Those really got to me.

Why do you think the Saw franchise has been so successful?

I think the whole concept of the movie putting yourself in a situation you don’t want to do, but have to in order to survive just adds a new layer. It’s kind of like a twisted vigilante or a Batman of horror. The Saw movies really have those layers where you understand everyone’s story and perspective. It makes you appreciate the hidden things you see in Saw.

What has been your most challenging project that you have worked on to date?

The historical importance working on Roots was so intense for me because it made me challenge and push myself in different ways. It was important because of the sentimental value and was amazing to be part of. It was a different film in that it was dialogue based whereas Saw allowed me to work on my acting with fight or flight moments. Working on Jigsaw was out of my comfort zone, too. I had to work on my high pitched screaming (laughs).

What’s next up for you?

I am working on a role in a movie about the Flint, Michigan water crisis. It’s pretty heavy and out of my comfort zone. One of my good friends wrote it and it’s getting funded now.

Have you been to Boston?

My brother did a summer camp at Harvard several years ago. I don’t get to the East Coast often, but Boston was a really special city.