On James Wan and horror

I’ve never finished watching a horror movie and not felt like I could have lived without seeing it, but I’ve probably watched enough horror movies for someone to think that I was a fan. I wouldn’t say that I am.

Be that as it may, I know a decent amount about the horror genre, enough to know about James Wan, at least. If you were wondering where Saw, Dead Silence, the Insidious series, The Conjuring series, Lights Out, Annabelle, and soon, The Nun, you have James Wan to thank.


James Wan, a horror movie specialist, has taken the supernatural leg of horror by storm, almost changing the landscape of the genre if I dare say.

Horror has oscillated between slasher movies and creature features for a while now, but there has been a recent shift to the paranormal, or the supernatural. This was likely facilitated by movies like Poltergeist (1982) and The Blair Witch Project, not to mention running out of Friday the 13th and Halloween sequels. And James Wan took the supernatural baton, sprinted with it, and kept running past the finish line.

When it comes to the supernatural horror films, James Wan dominates. There haven’t really been many of those types of movies to consistently compete with his work. That’s because a lot of horror films are low-budget independents, a overwhelming amount of which use first-person camera in Blair Witch fashion to probably avoid the cost of using a real camera. These types of movies are short-lived, and by the time at least two noteworthy films fitting that bill are released, James Wan has three more Insidious films out.

Wan is also efficient, almost too efficient for my taste. It’s true that some of his films are inspired, like Lights Out or The Conjuring, so the material may be easier to produce in those cases. However, these movies still have sequels and/or spinoffs that are getting produced no more than three or four years apart from one another on a consistent basis. With the production quality of the films he’s making, that’s pretty impressive.

That’s not even his only focus, either. James Wan is currently the executive producer of the recent remake of the MacGyver television series, and he’s been announced to produce the upcoming Mortal Kombat movie, and he’s directing the new Aquaman movie that’s coming out in 2018. This is in addition to an Insidious sequel, an unnecessary spinoff for the nun from The Conjuring 2, an unnecessary Annabelle sequel, among other things.

In a sense, James Wan has become the gold standard for horror, and he could very well continue to set the tone for the types of horror films that get released within the next decade. The question is, will anyone else be able to step up and freshen the horror movie perspective? Or does the genre risk running out of ideas?


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