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The restart of Universal’s ‘Dark Universe’ is refreshing and necessary

The restart of Universal’s ‘Dark Universe’ is refreshing and necessary

The restart of Universal’s ‘Dark Universe’ is refreshing and necessary
February 15
16:55 2019

In early 2017, Universal Studios announced the start of their “Dark Universe” slate of films that would revamp their classic Universal Monsters in a modern light starting with “The Mummy” starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella as the titular monster.

Come June of the same year, “The Mummy” finally rose back from the grave hoping to scare audiences with some modern horror enthused with some cool imagery and top-notch special effects. The film finally opened and well, it fell flat on its face. The film only grossed $80 million domestically on an estimated $130 million budget and received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics — it sports a horrid 15% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It seemed Universal’s ambitious attempt at revamping their classic monsters fell dead on arrival.

I also bet you forgot about the 2014 film “Dracula Untold,” which explained the story of a young prince Vlad before he became the famed monster we all know as Dracula. That film also failed financially and critically as well. So, a movie based on a classic monster and helmed by Universal that also focused more on action than horror sounds like what other movie in this article? And yet, Universal claims it is not part of the “Dark Universe.”

I am assuming Universal wanted “Dracula” to be a massive success, which would have started it all off on the right foot and then the rest of the Universal Monsters would get their own respective films following suit with “The Mummy” being next with actual anticipation following it after a successful start to their new cinematic universe. But alas, this did not happen, so Universal was hoping “The Mummy” would do what “Dracula Untold” could not. It seemed like they had faith in it too because they announced the whole idea of the “Dark Universe” only a few weeks before “The Mummy” was released in theaters. But yet, it did not work.

So after their second attempt flopped, as expected, Universal canned their Dark Universe idea shortly after the premiere of “The Mummy.”

This was upsetting because I honestly believed seeing a modern take on these classic monsters would have been a very exciting venture, especially knowing how much impact the old films still have on the genre of horror as a whole. Unfortunately, if Dark Universe would have continued on the path that “The Mummy” and “Dracula Untold” took, I fear each film would have been consecutively worse as they went on.

Thankfully, Universal and famed horror producer Jason Blum just announced that the Dark Universe will officially be refreshed with a reimagining of “The Invisible Man” helmed by Leigh Whannell of “Saw” and “Insidious” fame. As a horror fan, this was immensely exciting news, but that was not even the best part. It was also announced that the film would be “more rooted in horror” rather than in action.

Not only is this a very welcome turn from what we previously got, it is a very necessary change. “The Mummy” did not work because it focused too much on action and put the horror on the back burner to a point where it was basically non-existent. You cannot reboot a horror film that is so important in horror history then ignore the thing that made it so influential in the first place.

The trailers even emphasized the more horror aspects of the film but there was maybe only one scene in the entire film which prominently featured horror elements. I have to imagine a misleading trailer and uneven tones is what sunk “The Mummy” and then what eventually sunk the “Dark Universe” as a whole. So hearing that a new film will be made which focuses on actual horror is something that makes me even more excited than when this whole “Dark Universe” thing was initially announced.

I am really hoping they can kick start this newly restarted “Dark Universe” on the right foot this time because this has the potential to really be big budget horror filmmaking at its most ambitious, but only if they do it right. With talent like Leigh Whannell and Jason Blum, I have high hopes that we will see modern monster films at its most appropriate — actually scary.

Featured Image: Courtesy Facebook.

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Spencer Kain

Spencer Kain

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1 Comment

  1. Sazed
    Sazed February 19, 22:46

    You bet wrong. I LOVED Dracula Untold. And while it wasn’t a financial hit, it certainly made a profit, even more so than the 2017 Mummy movie.

    Reply to this comment

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