If you had $1,000,000 and could recruit any director to make a horror film who would you pick? I would go with James Wan (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring). Ever since Saw exploded in 2004, Wan has constantly reinvented himself and found a way to make horror films that unite mainstream audiences, critics and horror hounds. His world building (or borrowing in the case of the Conjuring films) is second to none, and he and his co-writer Leigh Whannell have found a way to make movies featuring nice people doing what they can to rid the world of evil. Most importantly, his movies are scary and introduce the world to pure nightmare creations
1. His horror films have made over $850,000,000 worldwide
Between Saw, Dead Silence, Death Sentence, Insidious 1&2 and The Conjuring 1 &2 Wan has been the most lucrative horror director on the planet. If you break it down the average box office is $121,000,000, and the average budget is $15,000,000. Wan's horror films make money. No other current mainstream horror director can match this.
2. He has a winning formula
Small budget + good script + likable characters + solid actors = quality
Wan and his team understand horror, and audiences have flocked to his films because he gives them what they want (actual frights, likable characters). My favorite part of the formula is the focus on likable characters. I am a huge fan of Elise from the Insidious films. She is kind, brave and voluntarily puts her life on the line to help others. Elise is an unlikely hero and I like that.
3. The Conjuring and Insidious feature truly nightmarish villains
The Conjuring and Insidious worlds have done a great job of creating truly terrible villains. Just writing about them gives me goosebumps, and I don't think I will ever be able to shake the Red Lipstick Demon jump scare from insidious.
The Bride in Black is terrible as well......
4. His set pieces are second to none
The "clap" sequence in The Conjuring was brilliant. Wan was able to take a great scene written by Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes and turn it into pure gold. The initial teaser trailer guaranteed the movie would be a massive hit. The reason I love the "clap" scene so much is because it familiarizes you with the house and scares the living crap out of you.
5. His films are beloved by critics, audiences and horror hounds.
Wan's horror movies have won over casual moviegoers, diehard horror fans and film critics alike. His films have repeatedly appeared on "best of" lists, and have been called some of the best horror films in recent years. And its easy to see why. Wan's puts story first, scares second — creating characters and worlds you're actually invested in before he unleashes scares on the audience.