He’s a classic, essential horror movie stereotype. He has hung around for centuries, but he really came into his own once movies about hauntings turned “scientific”: The Haunting or The Stone Tape, for example. He’s the scientist who wants to empirically study demonic/ghostly activity, and he’s one of my favorite character types in the classic era.
When James Wan released Insidious in 2010 and the original The Conjuring three years later, it surprised a lot of horror audiences and critics. The director of Saw, and the producer of its string of increasingly grisly sequels, seemed to have taken a sharp right turn, abandoning what fans call “extreme cinema” and detractors dismiss as “torture porn” for haunted-house atmospherics and a more creeping variety of dread.