The world of horror film directors has, like any other genre, its legends and rising stars. Though not yet at the level of such horror royalty as John Carpenter, Wes Craven or Dario Argento, director James Wan has been laying the foundation for a long and productive career as a horror filmmaker ever since he first turned heads (and stomachs) with 2004’s Saw.
With Insidious, Saw and The Conjuring to his name, Wan’s talents are increasingly becoming synonymous with blockbuster horror franchises. For his part, the bankability of the young Australian director has not gone unnoticed by Hollywood’s top brass. As such, Wan was given the opportunity to test his skills outside of the horror genre by taking on 2015’s Fast & Furious 7 a.k.a. Furious 7.
The experiment proved to be a success - and now with Wan having focused his energy back on the horror genre for The Conjuring 2, some have wondered whether or not his foray into a mega-budgeted super franchise like Fast and the Furious has affected the way he directs smaller-sized fare. While being interviewed by Latino Review, The Conjuring 2 stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson were asked about this and revealed what changes they saw. Farmiga’s response remained rather lighthearted, but Wilson’s was more analytical and highlighted an important evolution in Wan’s career.
Vera Farmiga: I’m not sure. He and I have a very specific way. I’m sure he dealt with me differently than he deals with Vin Diesel.
Patrick Wilson: Yeah, after the first “Conjuring,” he also in there did “Insidious 2,” we did another film together. Then he went off and did “F7.” So I think this time, because he had been so immersed in that, however many billion dollar franchise, it only puts pressure on himself. I think the exciting thing was to come back understanding how the other side works. Meaning, huge action sequences, crazy huge budget, and the amount of time that he can spend on a scene. I think if anything, he gains a confidence to pull off something like, in the scene where I’m talking to Bill, and the camera’s basically right here the whole time. He could never do that in “F7,” have a take three minutes long, whatever it is, a four, three page scene. I remember him coming in that morning being very excited. I was slightly nervous because usually, you don’t need to learn that many pages. They come for rehearsals, so I want to do this whole thing in one take. You’re like, okay. Got to learn my lines. But I think it gave him this freedom, I know how that other genre works, therefore I know…because there is a similar vibe of setting up your set pieces like settings up your scares, for an action, right? So I guess that would say, I saw that sort of change of him pushing himself. Long takes, sweeping camera movements. Whereas you look at “F7"…so I think it made him go the completely opposite way.
As of this writing, The Conjuring 2 is just arriving in theaters and receiving some pretty solid reviews in the process. Back in 2013, The Conjuring was a surprise hit, bringing in over $300 million globally and taking its place as one of the highest grossing horror films of all time. No small feat, to say the least. Now with the sequel shaping up to be yet another hit, Wan’s honed and interchangeable skills seem to be proving to be a valuable commodity in the world of big money franchises.
There’s definitely something special about James Wan’s talent as a filmmaker. His ability to make the sort of transitions he's made and to inherently understand which technical styles he can apply to each respective genre or budget bodes well for his upcoming Aquaman comic book movie. If The Conjuring 2 takes off and Aquaman performs as well as many feel it could, Wan could be destined for a spot as one of Hollywood’s most reliable top directors.
At present, it’s perhaps throwing too much pressure on James Wan to assume that his career is set to become legendary. But what he’s delivered to audiences thus far has made him stand out amongst the pack to some degree, meaning his future as a filmmaker is worth keeping an eye on.
The Conjuring 2 is now playing in theaters.
Source: Latino Review