Hits adding up Fast
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.