Universal’s shared universe of classic monsters launches in earnest next year (sorry Dracula Untold, you’re about as welcome as a certain type of stepchild) with The Mummy on 7 June. That reboot, starring Sofia Boutella (as the undead bandage fetishist) and Tom Cruise, is treading new ground for the classic monster by bringing her into the modern day.
It’s also aiming to set the tone for the Monster-verse by bringing the horror aspect of the character to the fore, or as co-star Russell Crowe (who’ll be playing Dr. Henry Jekyll in the movie) so eloquently put it – “[it’s] designed to seriously scare the sh-t out of you”.
And those are both things the Van Helsing reboot will have in common with it as co-writer Jon Spaihts recently told ScreenRant, while also confirming that their version of Dr. Abraham Van Helsing will be unique to the shared universe:
[Van Helsing is] a new creation, so it doesn’t owe much of a debt to prior films. But it is still a very romantic departure from the character as incepted in Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, where [he] was a Dutch doctor who figures out a very surprising answer to an odd medical question. This is a monster hunter with encyclopedic knowledge.
It’s set in the present day and it’s just filled with good stuff I’m not allowed to talk about. But I’m very excited about this new incarnation of Van Helsing, and I hope that as the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe begins to take flight, we’ll see him cropping up in other stories, as well.
Spaiht’s other co-writer, Eric Heisserer, has also previously stated that the reboot is taking some inspiration from Mad Max: Fury Road. So could we see a version of the monster hunter worn down by years of his trade, singularly focused on eradicating these creatures to the exclusion of all else?
Interestingly enough, back in 2012 Tom Cruise was lined up to portray Van Helsing before Dracula Untold‘s less than enthusiastic response caused those plans to be scuppered and the Monster-verse to go back to the drawing board; which is what lead to the writers room’s renewed focus on horror, as Spaiht continued:
Even to go back to the original Universal Monster movies with Lon Chaney and Boris Karloff, they were not really terrifying even then. Maybe sensibilities were different and people were easier to scare at the time. But [those classic films were] slow; they’re parlor stories for the most part — not terrifying in modern terms.
[Now] we’ve gotten really good at scaring people in movies. So, the nice thing about The Mummy is that it has the swash-buckling action-adventure character of a modern epic action movie, but it’s legit terrifying. It will scare you.
And I think that last bit is what many people want from these reboots – they’re classic horror movies after all – and as much as I enjoyed Dracula Untold for its “swash-buckling action-adventure”, it did lack any kind of horror element. Hearing that there’s a concerted effort to make the villains (or are they?) of this shared universe properly terrifying makes me more interested to see where they’re going with these movies than I am to see the next Big McSuperhero movie.
What do you think?