Dear, James Wan
It was a moderately hot day here on Long Island. The temperature peaked at about 84 degrees (Fahrenheit. This IS America) and one could paint it to be one of the more idyllic days in the Hamptons. Instead of going to the beach, driving to Montauk, or getting shit-faced at 2 in the afternoon, I decided to see your latest film, with my father, at our local theater. I have been rather busy lately with my job (the Hamptons are quite insane this time of year, James), and I haven’t had any quality time with my old man. He is already familiar with your work. I sat him down to watch Insidious during the fall, and he enjoyed it. I figured that our bonding time should be spent catching up on Wan’s latest. We spent this warm, Monday afternoon getting spooked by the one director who still knows what it takes to scare people.
Insidious was the last film that actually got under my skin. There have been plenty of genre films that have been fun, but nothing ever came home with me like Insidious did. You created a fictional world that was not only horrifying, but fantastical. You tried to do the same thing with Dead Silence. Unfortunately, I felt that you took on too much with the story you wanted to tell, and failed. Looking back on that shit-puppet-ghost movie, I can see where you were starting to hone your particular style of the “ghost” story. Obviously I enjoyed Saw, but I’m going to stick to your haunted-people-places films for the sake of this “letter.” Anyway, Insidious left an impression on me and that musical score rips through me when I hear it. You placed the right sounds at the right places. You know when to push my buttons because you pay attention to older films and not the latest, money-selling tropes. There is an elegance to your style of horror that I have felt has been lost. You take your time, your focus less of gratuity, and you make sure to create a believable world with the camera.
Not only was I ecstatic that you were working on a sequel to the wonderfully, scary world of The Further, but you had a “based on true events” film coming out the same year. I didn’t have any expectations for The Conjuring. I knew about the Warrens because of the Amityville Horror (LONG ISLAND!) but I was unaware of their larger mythos. I was actually afraid that this would be a dud and would only play to what we have already seen in the genre. After seeing the movie, yes, it plays with some familiar tropes, but it does it is such a successful way that it comes out ahead of the rest. Once again, you put the right musical score in and you focused on even making the camera shots feel like they were from a different era.
I just want to thank you for giving me hope in the horror genre as a whole. I have burned out on these types of films because they either become too predictable or they fall in the realm of redundancy. A similar film that came out last year, entitled Sinister, was creepy, but it worked only with jump-scares rather than taking its time to get into my psyche. James, you know what it takes to rip the skin off my body and pin my corpse to the chair. You are becoming one of the best horror-directors of this generation. Your fascination with dolls and old ladies never gets old and continues to remain terrifying. But seriously, what kind of Freudian shit is going on with that? Level with me.
Also, I want to take this time to thank you for keeping Patrick Wilson around. That man is one of my favorite actors in Hollywood right now, and yes, I know he doesn’t have award winning roles, but you are giving me hope that he will do a film like Little Children again. His presence on screen is comforting to me, and the more you use him in your movies (please put him in the next Fast and Furious film), the more I adore you.
My father and I walked out into the late afternoon sun shaking from the images of that old witch. We laughed at how the girls in the audience screamed at several parts and revealed to each other our favorite scenes from the film. Your movie brought us together for one afternoon, and we found comfort in your portrayal of demonic possession. I clapped my father on the shoulder, we covered our eyes from the warm sun, and made our way to my car.
See you again for Insidious: Chapter 2, James