By Lee Parham

Malignant director James Wan is still young, but the filmmaker has established himself as a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood over the last two decades.

James Wan began his filmmaking career in 2000 with indie horror movie Stygian focusing on a couple finding themselves trapped in an alternate world as they try to escape.

While his first film garnered little attention, Wan made the scene with Saw in 2004, adapted from his own short film of the same name.

Saw took the world by storm, turning its micro budget into a massive profit. The bloody horror flick then launched into a massive franchise, with near-yearly installments dominating the 2000s.

While Wan didn’t return to direct the Saw sequels, he remained a producer on the series and developed the stories for a few entries, including Saw II and III.

Success from Saw gave Wan the opportunity to branch out and make more original films. 2007 saw the release of two Wan movies: Dead Silence and Death Sentence.


Neither effort stuck the landing, as both films were financial failures and panned by critics. Hollywood soon began to write off Wan’s career.


He was able to overcome adversity with the release of his next film, Insidious. The production witnessed Wan retracing his low-budget horror roots to critical and box office acclaim.

2013 proved to be a massive breakthrough year for Wan as he once again directed two films, but unlike 2007, these movies did not derail his trajectory.

First, Wan directed a sequel with Insidious Chapter 2. It grossed significantly more than the original.

Then Wan hit horror movie gold with the inception of The Conjuring franchise, adapting real-life reported demonic events into stylish cinema.

Not only did The Conjuring spawn two sequels, it kicked off an entire cinematic universe filled with creepy character solo films, including Annabelle and The Nun.

Moving from one cinematic universe to another, Wan dipped his toes in the water of comic book filmmaking with Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa as the titular king of Atlantis.

Aquaman eventually became the highest grossing movie in the DCEU, and Wan is currently in production on its sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

Perhaps the film that helped Wan secure the Aquaman gig was Furious 7 of the Fast Saga, the highest grossing film in the series that served as a touching tribute to the late Paul Walker.

After a foray into big budget blockbuster films, Wan is returning to his low-budget horror roots with Malignant, a supernatural horror film where a woman sees visions of shocking murders.

From underwater kingdoms to high octane street races or small scale horror, James Wan has established himself as a prolific director capable of building franchises from the ground up.