5. Furious 7 (2015)
The Fast and Furious franchise was met with the most devastating news when Paul Walker, who played its lead character Brian O’Conner, died in a vehicular accident. Alongside the tragic loss, fans were not sure how the beloved franchise could go on. As a tribute to Walker and the fans, James Wan continued his franchise entry’s production to finish what can be described as one of the Fast and Furious series’ most well-received films.
Furious 7 utilises every weapon in the franchise’s armoury to create an absurdly entertaining, logistically nonsensical, and wildly explorative film that does not know the meaning of slow.
A star studded cast, including Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, and cameos from Kurt Russell and Ronda Rousey, transport Furious 7 back to its roots, putting on hectic car chases and giving the production’s pyrotechnics team a place to shine.
Wan has only directed one Fast and Furious film, but with the warm welcoming Furious 7 received, it’s certain that his unique directorial charm and eye for over-the-top bonanzas could be an asset for the franchise’s future adventures.
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4. Malignant (2021)
Malignant might just be the most divisive film of the decade. Whilst some rammed the film straight into their Top Ten lists, others vowed to never watch it again.
It’s the tinge of neo-giallo, the throwback to 1970s experimental horror, and the somewhat indescribable narrative, that makes Malignant the glorious mess of a film that it is. With Malignant, Wan deliberately dialled the frenzy-factor up to full volume, never once allowing us to take a breath. And it’s for that very reason that Malignant thrives.
Trying to make sense of the endless extravagant displays in Malignant is fruitless. Instead, what Wan aims to capture is a bold, bashful plight of horrific amalgamations; just as his previous entry Death Sentence tried to do fourteen years prior.
Malignant does not pace its strides in any department, particularly when it comes to the practical effects. The film’s titular villain Gabriel (voiced by Ray Chase), is the pure embodiment of an evil, grotesque force that accurately manifests what a metaphysical tumour would look and sound like. The blood-squirting, toothed, squishy, visceral mesh of his appearance is both absurdly gross and impossible to look away from.
Wan may have taken early thematic inspiration from early slasher cinema, but it would be totally unjust to entirely compare Malignant to any living film. It is a unique experience from start to finish.
3. Insidious (2010)
Insidious (2010) has a lengthy backbone, combining its white-knuckled terror with a dramatic tone of familial disarray. But what makes the film truly effective, a real classic, is the sheer brutish nature that Wan employs as a scare tactic throughout.
One moment all will be calm, observing a casual conversation, until a beaming red demon appears and pure chaos erupts. Insidious’ motto is ‘expect the unexpected’, and pushing this rambunctious ethos to the max is Wan’s collaboration with composer Joseph Bishara, which created one of the most memorable scores to come from a horror movie in the 21st century. The orchestral swells come to unbearably loud peaks before violently stopping to compliment whatever hideous, ghostly image Wan brazenly exposes on screen.
The music and visuals form such a flattering dynamic that allows every component – from the pacing to the rapid editing, and through to the heavy backstory – to transcend above the ordinary and become enigmatic.
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