Today I am back to rank James Wan’s horror movies! He is my favourite film director, hands down. Last month I did the same for Rob Zombie, which you can check out here. A few disclaimers: 1.) I am ranking by movie, not franchise (he worked on some, not all of them), 2.) I am only discussing movies he directed, not produced, so don’t expect to see M3GAN here, 3.) I am doing horror only. You will not find Aquaman or Furious 7 on this list and 4.) I am not covering Stygian (it was never commercially released) and Death Sentence is an action drama, not horror. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Are we surprised to see Saw in first place? We really shouldn’t be! It is my favourite horror franchise of all time. I ranked the entire series here and shared the five best traps here. In 2004, two extremely talented writers, directors and best friends (James Wan and Leigh Whannell) from Melbourne, released a film about a sadistic man that offers his victims a chance of survival, with a huge catch. It was made with a very low budget and the pair didn’t expect much to come from it. Little did they know, this movie would skyrocket them into great success. Saw is my absolute favourite in the series for the nostalgia, the story and most importantly, the twist. It gave James the career he has today and as we all know; Saw X will hit cinemas this October. The legacy lives on!
2.) Dead Silence
This is where I lose some followers. I die-hard love the cult classic, Dead Silence. I could re-watch it a billion times and never get bored. You know I love my creepy dolls! The story is about a young widower, who returns to his hometown in search of answers after his wife’s murder, which may be linked to the ghost of a deceased ventriloquist. The filming, scares and twist at the end make it a superior horror film that isn’t talked about nearly enough. This forgotten feature deserves more attention. James Wan made a winner when he brought a second doll named Billy to life! ‘Beware the stare of Mary Shaw.’
In third place, we have another favourite franchise of mine. In particular, the very first film: Insidious. It is the only one in the series directed by James. You can read my dedicated ranking here. We follow the Lamberts, who are haunted by a collection of malevolent entities and a powerful demon. After the eldest son, Dalton, suffers from a tragic accident, disturbing events begin to occur. With the help of a team of paranormal investigators, the family learn that Dalton is skilled in astral projection. The combination of horror and time travel scratches the best itch for me. It’s absolutely terrifying but also quite emotionally deep. I cannot wait for Fear the Dark later this year.
4.) The Conjuring
In fourth place, we have The Conjuring. James directed the first film with the intent of following the adventures of real-life demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren. In 1971, Roger and Carolyn Perron, move into a farmhouse on Rhode Island with their five daughters. Paranormal events begin to occur immediately. When the girls are attacked in their bedroom by a spirit, Carolyn contacts Ed and Lorraine. Their investigation reveals that the house once belonged to an accused witch. There were some really unique scares in this instalment. It definitely had a James Wan feel, which made it extra special. You have the clapping scene, Bathsheba perched on top of the wardrobe, the clothes-line moment and more. Also, it is based on true events. The Perron family were real, as was Bathsheba. They claimed the spirit was actually tormenting them. Spooky!
James Wan’s Malignant is so polarising. You will either love it or hate it. I LOVED it! It won best wide-release horror film of the year at the 2022 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards. It follows Madison, a young woman terrified by visions of strangers being murdered. Once the terror subsides, she sets out to help her victims before their fates come to pass. Little does our protagonist know, she’s more connected to the killer than she realises. I don’t want to give away the big twist reveal. You will just have to watch and find out! Please note, this movie is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. If you try to take the plot seriously, you’ll probably end up disliking it. It’s ridiculous and brilliant.
6.) Insidious 2
In sixth place, we have Insidious 2. This was the last instalment directed by James in the franchise. The sequel occurs right after the first film. It also covers what happened to Josh as a child. Shortly following the events of Insidious, the Lambert family continue to experience paranormal disturbances, not realising that Josh has been possessed since his last visit to the Further. It’s lower on my list because not a whole lot happens. The best part, in my opinion, was when we learn that time in the Further does not move chronologically. The characters are able to traverse through the past and revisit old memories. I love anything with time travel, so this was such a hit for me. It just wasn’t as impactful as the third and first films.
7.) The Conjuring 2
Here is where my list gets controversial. In last place, we have The Conjuring 2. I know this is a lot of people’s highest rated film in the franchise, but I had a few issues with it. In 1977, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, arrive at Enfield, London to investigate the possession of a young girl named Janet Hodgson. I felt like this movie tried a little too hard to be like The Exorcist. When Bill popped up and yelled: “my house” to Janet, I burst out laughing. It was more funny than scary. It was also a bit slow at times. The best parts involved Valak. It’s a bit sad that I preferred seeing The Nun more in the Conjuring sequel, than in her own dedicated film. Having said that, my least favourite film of James’s is still excellent. That’s high praise indeed!
Thank you so much for reading! How would you rank James Wan’s movies?
Peace & Love xoxo