James Wan Movies Ranked

2. The Conjuring (2013)

Cracking open The Conjuring universe is akin to unleashing the filmic mythology of the Star Wars franchise: it’s a seemingly never-ending backlog of jumbled time jumps. What makes it all worth it is that original film captured the cinematic magic that each of us crave. Despite The Conjuring soon reaching its 10th anniversary, the film has not aged a day; if anything its immaculate tone and beyond-terrifying premise are still at the beating heart of modern horror cinema. 

The Conjuring (2013) is the epitome of a mainstream fright fest. It has the heart-stopping jump scares, the graphic creature-like demons, and above all it makes for an incredibly fun watch even if we are watching through peaked fingers.

Wan entwines a fair amount of theatrical effects, with the film’s unlucky victims being flung across rooms multiple times, amping the threat level to its full capacity. Allowing the heavy dramatics room to breathe and not become a complete soap opera is Wan’s signature stylisation that utilises the film’s 1970s setting to display warm tonal palettes, and inserts of grainy footage that act like an homage to classic ghoulish horror.

Whilst The Conjuring may have its fair share of average reviews, it is the perfect popcorn movie that brings the fun back into the horror genre.

Recommended for you: 10 Highest-Grossing Horror Films Ranked

1. Saw (2004)

Many of us remember watching Saw for the first time; it was the latest buzz movie that spread like wildfire because of its disturbing and groundbreaking twists and turns. To this day, it is still James Wan’s best directorial entry.

Saw is home to one of horror’s most beloved antagonists, the Jigsaw Killer, whose true and sole identity always remains a puzzle within itself. Creating a villain whose popularity contends with the likes of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger is a feat in its own right. However, amidst the countless entries into the franchise and subsequent countless Jigsaw reveals, what remains at the core of Saw’s success is the original film’s shocking displays of gratuitous violence that prey on societal fears of being trapped by unknown forces due to one’s own heinous actions. Saw was a play, a guise, a commentary on humanity’s natural stroke of evil.

Saw combines its moral coding with some seriously gnarly kill scenes and stunning visuals that seem to come straight out of a steampunk music video. The heavy lighting and blue-green tinges make Saw’s graphic displays of violence too captivating to look away from.

Recommended for you: Saw Movies Ranked

Which of James Wan’s directorial entries most shocked and excited you? Do you prefer Wan in the horror or blockbuster realm? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to follow @thefilmagazine on Facebook and Twitter for more insightful movie lists.

Updated to include Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom 19th April 2024. Originally published 26th February 2023.

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