Don’t know who James Wan is? Well you certainly ought to change that.
Responsible for films such as Insidious, The Conjuring, and the Saw franchise, James Wan has been shaping our nightmares for years now. The 36-year-old Chinese Australian filmmaker is overlooked far more than he should be. Many people know his films and yet they don’t know the man behind them.
At the young age of 11, Wan was already well-aware that he wanted to be a filmmaker. After he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Melbourne, he instantly went on to make films with a fellow aspiring filmmaker, Leigh Whannell. The two have collaborated with one another for a handful of films which just so happen to be perfect for Halloween.
We encourage you to sit down with some popcorn, a protective blanket and a James Wan film of your choice. Here’s five reasons why James Wan should be part of you Halloween this year:
1. He understands that given the right setting, a doll can be our worst nightmare.
No seriously, these things are creepy.
2. He understands the power of Audio.
Watch a James Wan film at the theaters and you surely won’t be disappointed with the audio. Many scenes use it very tactfully like this one from Insidious:
And lets not forget the way he manages to make a simple title score terrifying while it’s blasted at you in full volume:
3. Why yes, creatures that pop up at us are frightening.
4. He understands that sometimes “less is more.”
Don’t get me wrong. Wan is brilliant at scary images that stay in your head in the worst way possible, but he understands that there needs to be variety.
He can take a little girl pointing at a wall and horrify you. He can allude to a scary flashback without ever showing what happened, but still give you the creeps. Wan understands that sometimes, our own imagination can be much worse than anything he shows.
5. He makes you care about his characters and his storyline.
You may have turned away from the stomach-churning gore in Saw, but you have to admit, the movie got you thinking. He made sure you paid attention and ended up questioning whether or not you would be able to do the same thing. Would you make the same mistakes?
Often times, a horror film flaw is that we simply don’t care about the characters. We’re afraid for death itself, but we don’t actually know too much about the people who are about to die or worse, they take on stereotypical “scary movie” personas. Wan very tastefully avoids this mistake with a simple method: He makes you actually like his characters. You end up hoping for a happy ending and it makes you more invested in the film itself.
So take it from us and make sure Wan is part of your holiday. Happy Halloween everyone!
This story was originally published in 2013 as “Top 5 Ways James Wan Has Mastered Scary Films.” It has been republished just in time for Halloween.