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James Wan: Is he the New Face of Horror?

Filmmakers of the horror genre. Who do you think of  when you think of horror? Wes Craven comes to mind. Alfred Hitchcock, Sam Raimi and George Romero are a few others that pop up. If you happen to be a horror person, which I generally am not, but if you happen to be, of course you know the aforementioned masters of the genre. Now, what if I threw in a fella by the name of James Wan? Would you know him? If you’ve seen or heard of a film called Saw, you just might.

Malaysian-Australian filmmaker James Wan burst on the scene with Saw in 2004, the independent horror film about two men and the dilemma they face, orchestrated by a mysterious mastermind. It was Wan’s first mainstream success and spawned a whole new series for fans of horror to get into. Though he would produce subsequent entries of the series, Wan moved on to other projects.

Saw

In 2007, Wan would direct two films. The first of which was Dead Silence, the creepy doll movie about the ghost of a murdered ventriloquist who removes the tongues of any one who screams in her presence. Made very much in the vein of the old Twilight Zone television show, it wasn’t as gory as Saw. Nor was it as successful from a box-office or critical standpoint. Still, Wan would continue to move forward. His second film of 2007 was a departure from the horror scene. He directed the drama/revenge film and Kevin Bacon vehicle Death Sentence, based loosely on the novel by Brian Garfield. No, this wasn’t a horror film in the traditional sense, but it does deal with a kind of horror that no parent should experience and that is the death of a child. It also contains elements of the psychological thriller, which is definitely up Wan’s alley.

After some time off, Wan would return to psychological horror with the 2011 hit Insidious, which deals with two parents who struggle to discover the cause of their son’s comatose state. It is this state that allows him to become a vessel for spectral beings. The film was a huge success for Wan critically, praised for being a film that doesn’t need to resort to blood and gore to frighten an audience. In terms of box office standing, it was also a hit. The film pushed Wan back to the forefront of the horror genre. Not that he was ever at the back really, but ‘New Face of Horror’ indeed. Wan clearly has a talent for the horror film and if it’s not broke, there is no reason to fix it.

Insidious

Like 2007, 2013 is a busy year for Wan. This year, we’ll see him doing what he does best. With the upcomingThe Conjuring already receiving strong reviews, Wan is poised to put yet another hit film under his belt. Following The Conjuring, a sequel to Insidious will hit theaters in the fall and Wan is not necessarily stopping to take a break. He moves right into the director’s chair for the next entry in The Fast and The Furious series. Yes. A very busy man Wan is these days.

If you know anything about Wan as of late, you might know that he has expressed interest in branching out from the horror genre to make other kinds of films. It looks like we’ll get to see a bit of that with the upcoming Fast 7, which could be quite interesting to see how his inclination toward the psychological thriller and more darker elements could play into a series about fast cars and the attractive people who drive them, if at all. Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess as to where Wan will go next. For now, he will proudly wear the horror hat through the rest of this year.

The Conjuring opens Friday, July 19th.

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About / Bio
Steven Armstrong is an editor and staff writer for Entertainment Fuse's Movie Department. He also is a creative writer of fiction and poetry, an occasional filmmaker and electronic musician who enjoys reading, writing, video games, movies and any good story.

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