Two minds are sometimes better than one. Many of the most influential and popular horror films of recent years have actually been the product of two filmmakers working together behind the scenes. Some of these duos are siblings, while others are lifelong friends with an equal passion and love for the art of filmmaking. Often working as both writers and directors, audiences have fallen in love with the highly original films that these pairs have created. Each of the six horror filmmaking duos we have spotlighted here have shown a true talent in the industry, not only for making financially successful films, but also for making pictures that retain the creators’ unique voice that makes them truly stand out from the pack.
Danny Pang Phat and Oxide Pang Chun
Better known as just The Pang Brothers, these filmmaking twins from Hong Kong are not exclusive to the horror world, but their contribution to the genre has definitely not gone unnoticed. Their debut film was 1999’s Bangkok Dangerous, and-like Takashi Shimizu did with Ju-On/The Grudge-the brothers directed an American remake in 2008. However, their true talent for horror was solidified with 2002’s The Eye, a brilliant, unforgettable fright flick. They followed it up with an equally effective sequel The Eye 2, two years later, and The Eye 10 rounded out the trilogy in 2005. Their first English-language Hollywood film was The Messengers, starring John Corbett and Kristen Stewart. They’ve each directed a handful of films solo, but their impact on the horror world with the underrated Eye films has made them one of the best.
Though most would probably not call The Coen Brothers horror filmmakers per se, their unique and visceral stories and filmmaking style makes them very appealing to fans of the darker genre. They introduced themselves to the world with Blood Simple in 1984, and ever since then, they have been mesmerizing audiences with the intense visual style that they bring to each one of their films. From the classic Fargo to Academy Award favorite No Country for Old Men, there’s no denying the influence these guys have made, and continue to make, on the industry. Even the more comedic films like O Brother, Where Art Thou? are just as stunning to watch as their dramas because of the brothers’ signature style. This is a style which other filmmakers have either tried to emulate in their own movies, or to which they have made a respectful nod. Fans can look forward to the Coens’ next output, Hail, Caesar!, in 2016.
What the Soska Sisters have proven to fans with each of their three feature films (and one segment in The ABCs of Death 2) is a genuine passion for the horror genre, as well as a collaborative talent that continues to grow with each new project. Their first film, 2009’s Dead Hooker in a Trunk, had a low budget that showed, but it also showed that these Twisted Twins might just be a horror force to be reckoned with, and that they probably had a lot more talent up their collective sleeve. American Mary from 2012 was their brilliant and beautiful sophomore effort that took audiences into the strange world of body modification. Next up was 2014’s See No Evil 2, which was mostly a straight-up slasher, but still managed to be different by playing with audience expectations. The Soskas are strong supporters of women having more of a voice in the horror world, and females in the genre can definitely look up to them as wonderful inspirations.
A good filmmaking duo is one that recognizes the strengths of each person and sticks with them. Writer Simon Barrett’s flair for crafting new and original stories is only enhanced once it gets in the hands of his long-time collaborator, director Adam Wingard. Together, they have made a great name for themselves in the independent world with their films A Horrible Way to Die, a divisive but strong debut; You’re Next, an effective combination of home invasion thriller and black comedy; and The Guest, a pulse-pounding action flick with a rad soundtrack. They’ve also been involved in the resurgence of the anthology horror film, with segments in both V/H/S and V/H/S 2, and a short in The ABCs of Death. Barrett and Wingard often work with the same actors, including Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz, and AJ Bowen. Another cool thing about these guys is that they have stayed close to their roots by filming several of their projects in Barrett’s hometown of Columbia, Missouri.
I really don’t want to know anybody that doesn’t like the creative team of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. Usually joined on screen with their friend Nick Frost as a lead actor, this duo started something that fans never want to see stop. Their first movie Shaun of the Dead (2004) showed horror fans that they not only shared their passion for the genre, but that they also had a sense of humor that almost everyone could enjoy. Shaun was the pair’s love letter to their favorite zombie films, and it actually ended up becoming an iconic modern zombie film itself. Pegg and Wright continued on with what would later be dubbed the “Cornetto Trilogy” with the bloody buddy-cop movie Hot Fuzz in 2007, and finished it off with the science-fiction robot romp The World’s End in 2013. These guys can definitely make us laugh, but the storytelling and performances in each of their films also show that they have a lot of heart, which just makes us love them all the more. With the writing talents of Pegg and Wright combined, and their individual talents in front of and behind the camera, this horror filmmaking duo knows what fans want to see and deliver it to them to a T.
Now this is a duo that has really taken the horror world by storm. Their very first film Saw has spawned one of the most popular horror franchises in history, and they’re working on creating another one now with the Insidious films. The two Aussies divide up their talent by having Whannell tackle most of the writing, while Wan directs. Wan has made a name for himself working solo on The Conjuring and, most recently, Furious 7, but it is when these two work together that the magic really happens. Despite how some might feel about the barrage of sequels, at the time of its release in 2004, the original Saw film was creative indie filmmaking at its best and was unlike anything fans had seen in recent years. Wan and Whannell reminded us how creepy ventriloquist dolls are with the eerie Dead Silence in 2007, and 2010’s Insidious took on the topic of astral projection with a supernatural twist. They also took a slight detour from horror with the revenge thriller Death Sentence, also in 2007. Fans will finally be able to see how Whannell does in the director’s seat with the upcoming release of Insidious: Chapter 3 in June 2015.