How Universal Can Avoid a Monstrous Disaster
This might be a long shot… but hear me out: horror fans need something new to hold on to. Something to look forward to every year. A franchise or series, if you will. Nothing too fancy. It doesn’t have to be completely interconnected through each and every film, but horror fans need some sort of series with continuity. Something that consistently delivers. Marvel has been doing it for over ten years… it can’t be that difficult, right? Or maybe it can be. Just ask Zack Snyder, D.C comics and the good people over at Warner Bros. Creating a cinematic universe (CU) is difficult. Hell, I know Universal Pictures has made attempts in the past to get the ball rolling on rebooting their famed Classic Monster CU. Although I ended up seeing the first half of the movie in the comforts of my living room, I will admit that I did my very best to avoid watching Alex Kurtzman’s poorly wrapped and assembled The Mummy movie in 2017 (we won’t even mention 2014’s Dracula Untold). Starring an action hero like Tom Cruise in The Mummy was probably their first mistake. But just because the universe got off to a somewhat rocky start, doesn’t mean horror fans should write it off as a whole. Let me put it to you this way: imagine what fans thought after Ed Norton’s The Incredible Hulk. That was the second film in the Marvel CU and look how massively successful that franchise ended up being.
Fast forward to 2020. A lot of work has been put in since the early reboot years in this universe. I’ll even go so far as to consider the first two entries as a ‘soft reboot’. Universal was just testing the waters. They know what we want. And they know that if produced properly, a rebooted Classic Monster CU could be huge for them. Enter Leigh Whannell. If you’re going to make a good horror movie, your best bet is to find yourself a good horror director. Not someone who has made sci-fi movies or dramatic thrillers. You need a horror director. And that is exactly what made the Invisible Man successful in my opinion. The man responsible for writing a few of the most successful horror films in the past 15 years (Saw, Insidious and Upgrade) was going to write and direct the new entry in the Classic Monster CU. After recalibrating the direction of the CU, Universal finally made an above average horror movie to kick off what could be a very successful franchise. The reason why I say it is above average is because although I loved the movie, I can see where the movie dragged in certain parts and was mildly predictable in others. Nevertheless, I would give the film a strong 7.5/10. The reason for this being that the writing was great for a horror film, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, I got spooked a few times and the acting was also very good. I almost forgot that I was watching an Elisabeth Moss movie! Don’t get me wrong, she is a great actress. She was fantastic in The One I Love (2014), but unfortunately, after subjecting myself to the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale, I find it hard to see her casted as any other character (I guess she did a pretty great job for her portrayal of June Osborne after all). Filled with undertones of domestic violence and mental illness, not only is this movie smart, but it also delivers some fantastic scares.
After the success of the Invisible Man, Universal has already ordered a slew of films to follow in its footsteps. Normally, I would have my own reservations about the different teams that will be producing each film, but much to my liking, Universal seems to be sticking with a formula that has worked for them. Among other movies, they are slated to release a Frankenstein reboot produced by James Wan, a Dracula film produced by Jason Blum and a Wolf Man reboot directed by Leigh Whannell and produced by Jason Blum. While I won’t be hyping these releases up too much, it goes without saying that we’ve got some exciting times ahead of us as horror fans. Let’s hope they don’t mess it up!