Is James Wan Done with Making Horror Films?

James Wan is really great at giving people nightmares with his films. Since he came on as a filmmaker and producer, co-creating the Saw franchise, he’s become a force to be reckoned with in the horror movie industry. Odds are you’ve seen at least one of his horror films, and they’ve absolutely terrified you. So much so that you go to bed that night with all the lights on in your room. He’s created a cinematic universe, the Conjuring universe, that rivals the brilliant connectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But Wan actually isn’t too far away from comic books films either.

Lately, Wan has been exploring outside the horror genre and diving into the comic book movie world. He’s directed DC’s Aquaman and is currently filming its sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, set to hit theaters in 2022. While he’s continued to produce the new horror films in the Conjuring universe, is he done directing horror films?

James Wan at the premiere for 'The Conjuring 2.'
James Wan | Frazer Harrison/WireImage

James Wan is currently working on ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ but there’s a twist

Aquaman made $1 billion worldwide, so it’s no surprise that DC wanted Wan back to direct the sequel. Three years later, he’s started filming the project he says is heavily inspired by a “campy Italian horror movie from the ’60s,” Entertainment Weekly writes. Apparently, no matter how hard Wan tries to delve into other genres, he can never get away from horror.

Aquaman 2 is very heavily inspired by Planet of the Vampires,” Wan told Total Film. “You can take the boy out of horror, but you can never take the horror out [of] the boy.” The film is about two spaceships that land on a mysterious evil planet and Total Film writes that it could have also been the inspiration for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

“Well, the first movie took a lot of people by surprise, right? And that’s partially because they were not familiar with the comic book, which deals in this very lurid, strange world,” Wan continued. “People were taken aback that I didn’t throw all that stuff away and make a dark, heavy film. But I didn’t feel that would have been right for it. So with the second film, I feel it will be easier for people to accept where we go because I’ve already laid the foundation.”

This isn’t the first time Wan has dabbled with horror in comic book-related projects. He produced DC’s horror thriller show Swamp Thing, and he was supposed to do another DC horror thriller, The Trench, but DC canceled it.

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James Wan is back in the horror genre

Wan is finally returning to his “more gritty, rough thriller roots” with Malignant, which will premiere this year. It stars Annabelle Wallis, an alum of the Conjuring universe, as the main character Madison Mitchell. She has creepy visions of murders and even creepier altercations with her imaginary friend Gabriel. Somehow, Wan squeezed in this smaller horror film amidst his hectic schedule with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

“I wanted to make a movie in between those two giant films, which, just something smaller, more intimate, and really harken back to the style of filmmaking or the kind of films that excited me when I was when much younger, when I was a teen growing up, idolizing filmmakers like De Palma, Argento, and all that,” Wan told IGN.

“I just thought, ‘When am I ever going to get the chance to do a film like this ever again? Now is the time for me to use this opportunity to make the kind of movies that I don’t think really get made at this level anymore.’ And so it really came from the want to just make a hark back, a throwback kind of film. And this was just a story that I came about that really fit that desire.”

Even explaining the film’s title would give things away because Wan says, “it really encompasses the tone of the film.” Malignant premieres in theaters and on HBO Max on Sept. 10.

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Is James Wan back to making horror films?

Wan dislikes repeating himself, especially in sequels, so we don’t know if we’ll get a Malignant sequel or even another horror film in general from the director. But it does look like he’s reverting to his horror/thriller roots, at least for the foreseeable future.

He’s currently directing episodes for a thriller series called Archive 81, and he’s set to produce more films in the Conjuring universe, including The Nun 2 and The Crooked Man. He’s also producing Salem’s Lot and The Tommyknockers.

It’ll be great to have him working in the genre again after he’s been gone from it for a bit. Not that we don’t like his comic book films, but Wan said it himself; “You can take the boy out of horror, but you can never take the horror out [of] the boy.”