In 2003, he directed a short film that led to the making of one of Hollywood’s most profitable indie horror projects, Saw (2004). And although the movie went on to become a successful franchise — with six more parts; Saw: The Final Chapter (2010) being the last — Wan didn’t direct or write any of them. Instead, he went on to direct three more horror films: Dead Silence (2007), Death Sentence (2007) and Insidious (2010). His next horror movie, The Conjuring, releases in India on August 2, and also falls in his favourite genre. Except, this one is apparently inspired by true events.
In this interview, James explains why he didn’t direct the rest of the Saw films, whether he truly believes in the supernatural and what it was like making a film on a real life clairvoyant’s experience.
Was there a particular reason you didn’t direct any of the other Saw films?
I didn’t feel the desire to. You know, I made the first one and I didn’t have another story to tell. I did not want to repeat myself.
Have you watched all of them?
Yes, I have, because they invited me to all the premieres. But don’t ask me which one is which (laughs).
What is your connection with the supernatural? Are you a believer?
My connection is that I sit in the movie theatre and watch them (supernatural movies). That’s about as close as I would like to come to it (laughs). I’m really afraid of this world… the reason why I can make scary movies is because I’m afraid of scary movies. I use the analogy that, if you’re a comedian, you need to have a sense of humour. Do I believe in it? I’m definitely open-mindedabout it. I’d like to think that I’m not arrogant enough to think that if I cannot see it or touch it, then it doesn’t exist.
How did the idea for The Conjuring come about?
I’ve known of the Warrens (real-life clairvoyants and paranormal investigators, Lorraine and Edward Warren) since I was a kid in high school… I’ve been fascinated with who they are and what they do since then. I’ve been tracking them all these years and I’ve always felt that Hollywood should make a movie about them someday.
After a series of horror movies, you’re now directing the next Fast & Furious movie? How did that happen?
I think with the coming off of Insidious and The Conjuring, and just my body of work now, producers and studios see that I care about the story and the characters and that’s what they wanted me on the next movie (Fast & Furious 7) for. I didn’t go there talking about fast cars or pitching the action scenes. And I feel like I’m finally getting the opportunity to do what I’ve always wanted to… I’m not ashamed to say that I love these big, summer blockbuster films.