James Wan Has Found His Next Horror Protégé

The 'Aquaman' director is using his Hollywood clout to give newcomers a chance to succeed.

James Wan Conjuring
Warner Bros.

James Wan is a busy man. In addition to directing DC’s upcoming Aquaman movie, he’s making a name for himself as a burgeoning super producer. The success of the Saw and Conjuring franchises speaks for itself, but he has several other horror projects on the horizon that could score him more home runs.

Let’s start with the Swamp Thing TV series for DC’s streaming service. It’s about damn time Swampy made a comeback, and Wan’s involvement and track record for (mostly) producing good entertainment give hope that it’ll be worth the wait. Keeping up with the fright fare, he’s also producing a reboot of The Tommyknockers. Stephen King adaptations are hot at the minute, and this is one that will benefit from a redo. And as if that’s not enough reasons to give you the willies, he also plans to make spiders scary again.

However, it’s the latest announcement that has really caught our attention. According to Collider, the horror maestro is producing a feature-length adaptation of Milk, which is based on newcomer Santiago Menghini‘s short of the same name. Milk centers around a sheltered teenager with an overbearing mother who begins to suspect his everything is not as it seems. The short has been generating hype on the festival circuit this year having spooked crowds at SXSW, where it was awarded the Midnight Shorts Jury Award.

Check out the teaser below:

Menghini is directing from a script by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, the pair behind the hella disturbing Super Dark Times. The director is expected to retain a story credit. Joining Wan in the production booth will be his Atomic Monster cohorts Michael Clear and Judson Scott. They’ll also be joined by Vertigo Entertainment’s Roy Lee.

Of course, the big question here is: Who is this blossoming filmmaker that Wan and co. have plucked out of obscurity?

Prior to this announcement, Menghini worked as an effects supervisor on various projects, including Les Jaunes, The Akira Project, and Temple. He’s directed five short films, most of which have appeared at various festivals and been nominated for awards in their respective categories. You can find out about his career accolades thus far on his website. Really, though, until now he was just another filmmaker doing his thing and probably not expecting to hit the jackpot any time soon.

Here’s his debut horror short, OHM:

 

This announcement is heart-warming. Wan is giving a talented newbie an opportunity to conquer the world. Clearly, he’s seen enough potential in the young filmmaker to give him a huge opportunity. This isn’t the first time he’s taken a chance on an up and coming director based on the quality of a short film, either.

In 2016, Wan produced a feature-length version of David F. Sandberg‘s 2013 short film Lights Out. The chiller made nearly $150 million worldwide on the back of a $5 million budget and launched an unknown talent into the stratosphere. He followed this up with Annabelle: Creation — another Wan production — which marked another colossal supernatural success story for the new kid on the block. His next feature is Shazam! That’s not the worst career trajectory for a filmmaker whose breakout short is only five years old.

Can Menghini replicate Sandberg’s success? That remains to be seen. However, with a powerhouse like Wan backing his debut feature, the young buck has an opportunity to hit the ground running and make the world take notice.

Here are some more of his short films:

Kieran is a Daily Curator for the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.