Hits adding up Fast

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

JAMES Wan (pic­tured) walked away from his first chance to make a se­quel for the Saw fran­chise he helped cre­ate. Now he can’t seem to es­cape them. The Aus­tralian di­rec­tor spent most of win­ter split­ting his days be­tween pre­pro­duc­tion on the sev­enth Fast & Fu­ri­ous film and putting the fin­ish­ing touches on his indie scare-fest In­sid­i­ous 2, which opens in Aus­tralia to­day. His other haunted house movie, The Con­jur­ing, has be­come the sea­son’s big­gest low-bud­get hit. The tale of a New Eng­land de­monic pos­ses­sion leaves a creaky door flung wide open for more movies fea­tur­ing ghost hunters Ed and Lor­raine War­ren. ‘‘If there’s a need for more sto­ries, then so be it. That’s a good thing,’’ Wan says. ‘‘But I al­ways set out to make the best film I can and let the peo­ple de­cide if it has a longer shelf life or not.’’ Born in Malaysia and raised in Aus­tralia, the 36-year-old di­rec­tor found his niche in Hol­ly­wood tak­ing ‘genre’ movies and bend­ing them askew. His In­sid­i­ous se­quel, for ex­am­ple, in­cludes time travel. ‘‘You don’t see that much in main­stream haunted house scary movies,’’ Wan says. ‘‘That’s the kind of stuff that I’ve al­ways loved, which is to take things that you think you’re fa­mil­iar with, and give it some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent.’’ Af­ter Wan’s twisted Saw be­came a huge hit in 2004, the saga of se­rial killer Jig­saw and his vic­tims be­came an an­nual Hal­loween tra­di­tion for many horror fans, with six se­quels re­leased in the­atres. His ca­reer’s lat­est twist is land­ing the sought-af­ter gig with the Fast & Fu­ri­ous ac­tion fran­chise, beat­ing a dozen di­rec­tors with an en­thu­si­as­tic pitch for a more gritty ap­proach. ‘‘Be­cause the ti­tle says Fast 7 and the char­ac­ters that are in the movies . . . felt like out­laws or like samurai in some ways. So I started think­ing seven – Seven Samurai,’’ he says, re­fer­ring to Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 clas­sic. ‘‘So that’s kind of the spirit that I’m try­ing to bring to my ver­sion.’’ Fast 7 is slated for re­lease next July.

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