Ultimately, I really only have one reservation when it comes to Wan helming Fast & Furious 7. From his passion for interlocking narratives to his talent for building tension and maintaining a spatial awareness in action setups, he is a solid director on a technical level which makes him perfect for action Plus, the creepy creatures and killers he’s created—from Jigsaw to the veiled woman in Insidious—show he has a clear visual flare. But both of his films this year, The Conjuring and Insidious: Chapter 2 suffer from the same flaw: sentimentalism. Basically, he doesn’t know when to kill his darlings, as writers like to say.

Wan seems to get attached to certain ideas, and can’t part from them even when they hurt his film. For instance, at New York Comic Con last year, Wan made it very clear that his goal for The Conjuring was to stay as close to what the Warren case files said happened as possible. That’s a noble ambition, but a detrimental one when it gets in the way of better storytelling. In my review, I faulted his decisions to include the infamous Annabelle doll and all five of the Perron daughters, since the former has no bearing on the plot and the latter is way more characters than the film has room for.

In Insidious: Chapter 2, which I also liked overall, the return of bumbling ghost hunters Specs and Tucker, played by the movie’s screenwriter and a longtime friend of Wan’s Angus Sampson, is a misstep, as their goofy carryings on get laughs but kill the story’s forward momentum and its electrifying tension. And it’s not like these two were fan favorites, far from it in fact. When word first hit they’d be back for Chapter 2, Wan’s longtime collaborator Whannell confessed to Dread Central:
“It may probably bum a lot of people out…there was this hatred that spewed out from fans saying 'I hated those guys! They sucked! They ruined the movie!' so there will probably be a lot of people out there who will be disappointed to hear that the Specs and Tucker characters will be coming back.”

Sentiment isn’t always bad. You could make a case that Lin was sentimental in bringing Han into the Fast & Furious fold, as he was a character established in an earlier Lin crime-drama Better Luck Tomorrow. But even if it was, that paid off as Lin correctly anticipated moviegoer’s worldwide would dig Han. Considering his decision to bring back two loathed characters to Insidious: Chapter 2, Wan’s sensibilities here are clearly less impressive. Still, I’m hopeful he’ll do right by Fast & Furious 7 for all the reasons listed above. Besides, I’m interested to see how Wan’s filmmaking evolves away from his constant contributor Whannell, and with a big budget, bigger stars, and some serious shoes to fill. If he wants to keep making more than horror, now is the time to learn to kill his darlings.

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