Why James Wan’s horror films are some of the best of this generation.
I’m sure you all have seen ‘Saw’, ‘The Conjuring’, ‘Annabelle’, ‘Dead Silence’, and all of the sequels that follow. In my opinion, there aren’t many horror films today that compare to Wan’s quality. Everything from the writing room, to the editing bay seems to go smoothly to deliver a final product that people love. Here are some my thoughts on my favorite James Wan films (even though I like all of them).
What’s great about Saw (2004), is that it was first, a short film. If you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend watching it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfgtAlpnEf8. From there, Wan began to develop a feature with fellow writer/actor Leigh Whannell. This would be Wan’s second feature film debut (the first is a film called, ‘Stygian’). Saw is a technical achievement, as well as a financial achievement. Made for only $1.2 million and grossed for over $104 million. What made this film such a success, was the unique story and execution. Funny enough, Wan didn’t intend for Saw to be such a gory film. It’s considered now in the sub-genre, torture porn. The cinematography is a hand held style, which works with it’s crazy story. Tobin Bell plays a fantastic serial killer. Billy the Puppet is an excellent addition, to add more horror to the victims lives. Fun fact about Billy; James Wan made it himself as a hobby project. Something that really sticks with me is the music. Charlie Clouser composes a score that is vaguely relatable to The Exorcist. The story can be all over the place at times, but connects really well towards the end of the film with an unbelievable twist at the end. Jigsaw is in the room the ENTIRE TIME! Saw set a beautiful example for an unfortunate amount of sequels, to a franchise that has so much potential.
Insidious (2010) has an unforgettable soundtrack. The screeching strings, with heavy bass make you so uncomfortable. I got a Bernard Herrmann vibe from this one. This is another film that I was a little hesitant to see at first. I wasn’t too familiar with Wan at this point, as Saw was the only other one I’ve seen of his. It just seemed like the same-old, same-old with mediums going into the ghost world. After watching this, there was something that I couldn’t forget, the Lipstick-Face Demon. Very Darth Maul-like, this demon creeped me out. It’s weird because he almost looks too ridiculous to be scary. The cast was on-point! I love Patrick Wilson in anything, Rose Byrne pleasantly surprises, Ty Simpkins kills it, and Lin Shaye becomes one of our favorite mediums. This is where [what I call] the ‘James Wan Cinematography’ feels like it starts. Something about the shots make them smooth, and some of the best dolly work in horror. Thanks to John R. Leonetti, we get to see his work on later Wan films, and a few earlier ones. I could go on and on about the cinematography for his movies.
Up next we have one of my favorite films of the 21st century, ‘The Conjuring’ (2013). Patrick Wilson returns, with Vera Farmiga playing his devoted wife. The two portray the real life demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren. If you’re not familiar with these two, I would highly recommend reading a bit about them, they’re super interesting! Right off the bat, this movie drew me in. There was something different about, something that made me imagine horror films in a different way. I thought to myself, “where has this filmmaking style been all my life?”. The cinematography is one of the things that made me like Wan so much. Everything is so smooth, and he somehow creates these dolly one-shots that has so much going on in them. Pure perfection! The acting is superb. I don’t think these child actors get enough love because this is a horror film. But I really do believe that these are some of the best child actors we’ve seen in a while. I know jump scares get a bit cliche, but James Wan has brought them back to life. No more cat out of the cupboard. These are truly jump scares. You can tell they’re done well because you know [most of them] are coming, and you still find yourself jumping out of your seat! I could talk about this move endlessly, so I’ll just stop there. ‘The Conjuring 2′ (2016) is on the same spectrum, with different pros and cons. But I like them both the same, and will continue to watch them. Since it’s a similar story, I won’t get into it. Maybe I’ll review both Conjuring films when The Nun comes out.
I know this is a post mainly about me, raving over Director, Producer, Writer, Editor James Wan. But I hope that my appreciation and love for this films motivates you to check them out. I would highly recommend you check out each and very ones of his films, as I only touched upon a few. They represent beautiful and new ways of filmmaking, that are actually enjoyable to a modern audience. Cinematography, acting and story all come a long way. These are all something that shows the true talent of Director James Wan.
Links to movies:
THE CONJURING: https://www.amazon.com/The-Conjuring-Vera-Farmiga/dp/B00G32TD98