‘Scream’ Reboot Moving Forward With ‘Ready or Not’ Directors

The much talked about Scream reboot recently took a huge step forward in its development. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Ready or Not directors Matthew Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have officially signed on to helm the slasher thriller.

Spyglass Media is behind the project. The company formed last year with former MGM head Gary Barber and Lantern Entertainment co-presidents Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic. Lantern landed the rights to Scream when it took control of film and TV assets from the Weinstein Co. in a bankruptcy sale back in 2018.

Scream was the 1996 slasher horror movie, directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson, focusing on a young woman in a small town who becomes the target of a killer who wears a mask inspired by the Edvard Munch painting The Scream. (The killer would later become known as GhostFace.)

The movie took on horror movie cliches even as it delivered thrills and laughs, becoming a massive hit as it crossed the $100 million domestic mark. The movie made stars out of its cast, which included Neve Campbell, Matthew Lillard, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette, and thrust Craven into the mainstream.

Details on this latest iteration of Scream are scarce. It is unclear whether it’s a reboot or a continuation of the story, which is the tact taken by the movie sequels. It is also unclear if Spyglass is taking a multiplatform approach to the horror brand.

Spyglass had no comment.


What do you make of this news? Do you think the Ready or Not directors are a good pick to direct the Scream reboot? Did you even get a chance to check the film out? Sound off in the comments below and let me know all your Scream and Ready or Not-related thoughts!

Chris Evans & ‘Doctor Strange’ Director Setting Sails For ‘Bermuda’

It looks like the sails are finally getting ready to sail for Skydance’s long-in-development Bermuda Triangle action-adventure, Bermuda. Viva Variety, Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson has signed on to direct the picture. Additionally, Derrickson will rewrite the script with his writing partner C. Robert Cargill as well as produce. Meanwhile, sources say Captain America himself, Chris Evans, is “circling” the lead role

The studio has been working on getting the project off the ground for some time, with Sam Raimi at one point circling the director’s chair. Funny enough, Raimi has since taken over for Derrickson on the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Plot details are being kept under wraps, except for the fact that it will be set in the mysterious patch of the Caribbean where planes and ships have gone missing over the years.

Skydance had no comment on the project.


What do you make of this news? Does it get you excited to see Bermuda? Or do you see yourself taking a pass on it? Jump down to the comments below and let me know all your Bermuda Triangle-related thoughts!

Blumhouse Resurrecting ‘Dracula’, Karyn Kusama Directing

Following the success of Leigh Whannell’s update on The Invisible Man, Variety is now reporting that Blumhouse is sinking its teeth into Dracula. Destroyer and The Invitation director Karyn Kusama is attached to direct. Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay, who previously teamed with Kusama on the two aforementioned projects, will also write Dracula.

The report claims that the project is a part of Blumhouse’s first-look deal with Universal. And seeing is how the two entities collaborated on The Invisible Man, Universal’s involvement is likely imminent.

Dracula was first introduced in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel of the same name, which saw Transylvania’s most notorious resident move to England, where he did battle with Abraham Van Helsing. Bela Lugosi made the character a cinematic icon with his portrayal in Universal’s 1931 feature film adaptation. Luke Evans last portrayed the character on the big screen in Dracula Untold, which grossed $217 million worldwide on a $70 million budget.

Meanwhile, The Invisible Man recently cracked $100 million at the global box office, off the back of an impressive $7 million production budget.

For more on what to expect from these Universal monsters reboots, check out my article Universal Monsters: What’Coming After ‘The Invisible Man’?


What do you make of this news? Is Karyn Kusama the perfect pick for an updated Dracula flick? Do you think a similarly minuscule budget would work for the property? Speaking of which, what did you think of The Invisible Man? Sound off in the comments below with all your Universal monsters-related thoughts!

Universal Monsters: What’s Coming After ‘The Invisible Man’?

As I mentioned in my review for The Invisible Man, Universal Pictures has been desperate for quite some time now to resurrect their gallery of classical movie monsters. They’ve tried again and again to reinvent the wheel in hopes of appealing to a younger generation of moviegoers and each time they’ve failed to sustain any true success. That was until they handed the keys to the dark kingdom over to Blumhouse, a frequent collaborator and one of the pioneers of last decade’s horror movie renaissance.

This weekend saw the release of The Invisible Man, the first film to come of the new direction. The result is already an overwhelming success, manifesting $48.3 million worldwide off the back of an economical $7 million production budget. Hitting those kind of numbers opening weekend? Yeah, we’ll definitely be seeing more updates on the Universal monsters.

But what exactly is the studio’s next move? In a New York Times article, President of Universal Pictures Peter Cramer waived the idea of attempting yet another cinematic universe, stating that the studio’s immediate focus is on individual filmmaker-driven projects:

“We said to the filmmakers, tell us what you’re connecting to with these characters. We’re listening to any and all ideas, rather than trying to create a vast, interconnected universe.”

Cramer further specified their process:

“I wouldn’t say we issued an open invitation, but we certainly talked to filmmakers who we admire. And once we put the word out with a few producers, people started coming to us saying, hey, I’ve got this idea.”

Here are the projects we know are currently in the works and what we know about them so far:

Dark Army

Image result for paul feig dark army

We may not be getting a shared Avengers-style monsters movie anytime soon, but anyone disappointed by that news still has something to look forward to. According to Deadline, The Heat and Bridesmaids director Paul Feig is currently developing Dark Army. While not much is known about the project at this time, the report states that it is based off an original idea from the filmmaker and will include “characters from Universal’s classic monster library and original characters created by Feig.” The plural characters being the operative word in that quote.

More recently, Collider caught up with Feig, who dished on where he is on the film’s development:

“I wrote a draft and got thoughts from the studio, and now I’m in the middle of a rewrite on that right now, and so hopefully that’ll be my next movie. If it’s not, it’ll be the one after whatever I do next. But yeah, I’m very excited about it, too. It’s just, you want to get it right.”

The A Simple Favor director let us in on his vision for the film:

“I really want this to bring the same feeling that those old monster movies that I loved growing up watching [did]. I’m not as interested in doing a horror movie as I am in doing a true monster film. So, hopefully that will see the light of day. You never know in Hollywood these days, but I love it. I’m very excited about it. I’m excited about the characters that I’ve created and about some of the ones that I’ve been able bring over from the old movies.”

A little bit of the old mixed with a little bit of the new? Count this admittedly excitable blogger in! Leigh Whannell took a similar approach with The Invisible Man and proved that these monsters can still be scary and scary relevant in 2020. Hopefully Dark Army follows down a similar path.


The Invisible Woman

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If you caught The Invisible Man recently, then you might have assumed that Universal was planning on doing an Invisible Woman movie. According to Deadline, indeed they are; however, it’s probably not what you had in mind. We learned last year that the studio is partnering with Elizabeth Banks for The Invisible Woman, which is based on an original pitch from the Pitch Perfect 2 and Charlie’s Angels director and is in no way affiliated with the Jason Blum-produced thriller currently playing in cinemas. Not much is known about the film other than Banks is reportedly starring as well as directing from a script by The Girl on the Train scribe Erin Cressida Wilson.


Monster Mash

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Dark Army isn’t the only monster mash-up Universal has up their sleeve. According to an exclusive Deadline report from earlier this year, the studio is working with Matt Stawski, a Grammy nominated music video director, on Monster Mash, an original musical film also featuring some of its iconic monsters. As per Universal’s MO, the project is based on an original conceit that Stawski pitched to be his feature directorial debut. Also like the rest of the films on this slate, story details are being kept… Under wraps (ha!).


Renfield

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When speaking about the classic Universal monsters, the conversation inevitably turns to Dracula. The bloodsucking horror icon is one of the most adapted fictional characters of all-time. Then there’s the more obscure R.M. Renfield, an inmate at a lunatic asylum who was thought to be suffering from delusions, but is actually a servant of Dracula. But if Universal has their way, that’s all about to change thanks to Dexter Fletcher (Rocketman), who has signed on to helm a feature film centered on the Dark Lord’s unfortunate sidekick. Based on an original idea from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman with a screenplay from Rick and Morty scribe Ryan Ridley, Renfield will finally tell the largely untold story but set in modern times.


Untitled James Wan Project (Frankenstein?)

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Not long after The Invisible Man hit theaters, reports started circulating that Universal had tapped The Conjuring and Saw director James Wan to produce an unnamed film “inspired” by their legacy lineup of monsters. Though a director has not yet been attached to the project, Supernatural scribe Robbie Thompson is set to pen the screenplay. Though the current news does not make mention of it, Variety reported late last year that Wan was attached to produce a re-imagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Could this indeed be the mysterious monstrosity that Wan is cooking up? Only time can tell for sure.


More to Come!

Of course these are just the projects we’ve gotten wind of. There are, according to Peter Cramer himself, various projects at different stages of development based on nearly all of their infamous monsters. This is an exciting time for fans of classic horror.


Those are the films we know are currently coming down the Universal Monsters pike. What do you make of the current post-The Invisible Man slate? Do any of these projects hold your interest? If so, which ones? And did you even enjoy The Invisible Man? Sound off in the comments section below and let everyone know all your Monster outs thoughts on the matter!

‘The Way Back’ Movie Review: Sadfleck might just be the best Affleck

DIRECTOR
Gavin O’Connor
SCREENWRITERS
Gavin O’Connor
Brad Ingelsby
STARS
Ben Affleck
Al Madrigal
Janina Gavankar

RATING
R (for language throughout including some sexual references)
RUNTIME
108 minutes
RELEASE DATE
March 6, 2020
STUDIO
Warner Bros. Pictures


Heading into the theater, I had a good idea of how The Way Back was going to play out. For the most part, I was right. Not to say I’m some sort of cinematic soothsayer. It’s a sports movie and they tend to follow the same, predictable formula: a down on their luck veteran of [insert sport here] lands a gig as the head coach of a historically awful team (often a high school team). By the end, they overcome the odds to win the championship (usually with a knuckle-biting last-second score) and the coach’s life is back on track.

The Way Back adheres to many of the same conventions, up to a point. Beyond that, it’s an intimate and often melancholy character study featuring Ben Affleck at his most vulnerable and– maybe not so coincidentally– his most captivating. He plays Jack Cunningham, a functioning alcoholic and former high school basketball star who winds up the head coach of his former team. Turns out they’re in need of their own turnaround as they haven’t even gone as far as the playoffs since Jack’s days on the court.

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Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) hopes to re-assemble the pieces of his shattered life in The Way Back. | Warner Bros. Pictures

As he did with the 2011 MMA drama Warrior, Gavin O’Connor (who previously directed Affleck in The Accountant) demonstrates a deep understanding of his protagonists as well as his relationships with those closest to him. Janina Gavankar makes a lasting impression as Angela, Jack’s ex-wife. The two share a strong, complicated bond burdened by unimaginable trauma. For many viewers, the real-world struggles at the heart of The Way Back will hit a bit too close to home. That just speaks to how sincerely the filmmakers treat these characters as well as their pain.

Because much of The Way Back is about Jack’s life off the court, the couch-player relationships aren’t as developed as you might expect given the typical sports movie. Instead, the film sees Jack’s tenure with his team as just one of the many bricks which hopefully will pave the way to a life with less hurt.

The soft relentlessness of Rob Simonsen’s piano underscores each emotional crest and trough. It isn’t flashy, but it’s definitely one of the more impactful scores so far this year.

If you’re in the market for a cathartic cry, or just need a reminder of how good an actor Ben Affleck is, then The Way Back is the way to go.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Also opening wide this weekend is Disney-Pixar’s Onward. You can check out my review for that here!


Those are my thoughts on The Way Back. Have you had a chance yet to check out this flick? If so, what did you think? Do your opinions agree with mine? If not, how did the movie hit you? Either way, I want to hear from you so sound off in the comments section below!

‘Onward’ Movie Review: Pixar Fantasy Lacks Studio’s Signature Magic

DIRECTOR
Dan Scanlon
SCREENWRITERS
Dan Scanlon
Jason Headley
Keith Bunin
STARS
Tom Holland
Chris Pratt

RATING
PG (for action/peril and some mild thematic elements)
RUNTIME
1 hr. 42 mins.
RELEASE DATE
March 6, 2020
STUDIO
Disney-Pixar


With Onward, Pixar transports us to a fantastical world that’s populated by mythical creatures and crackling with all manner of magic. At least it used to be until the ease of technological advances made the craft of magic obsolete. The metaphor is so obvious that it will only be missed by those who: 1. Don’t see the movie at all or 2. Fall asleep during the time-wasting Maggie Simpson short that plays just before the actual feature.

Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley (Chris Pratt) are two teenage elves; they’re also brothers whose mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) raised them following the premature passing of their father. On Ian’s sixteenth birthday, he and Barley unwrap a present left to them by their late father: a wizard staff paired with a visitation spell that, when performed, allows the deceased to return from beyond the grave for 24 hours.

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures.

Before we go on, it’s important to address how this silly spell works. You see, it doesn’t just bring their dead dad back to life in a “Ta da!” puff of smoke. Instead, it slowly rematerializes him from the feet on up. Keeping this in mind, here’s where things get really weird. Halfway through performing said spell, something goes terribly wrong, resulting in an incomplete resurrection. They’ve only successfully managed to revive their father from the waist down. Indeed, he is only half the man he used to be. Now it’s a race against the clock as the brothers try to find a way to finish the spell before the 24 hours is up and good old dad disappears again, this time forever. I mean who designed this spell?

Onward lacks the rich character development and heartwarming sentimentality that’ve become staples of the Pixar experience. Barley and Ian are essentially extensions of Pratt’s and Holland’s characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Moreover, their relationship is hardly impacted by their journey. At the start of the film they get along better than most siblings I know and by the end they‘re getting along… Even better? The filmmakers try to force feed conflict into the brothers’ relationship later on in the second act during the obligatory breakup scene that always happens moments before our heroes inevitably get back together. But it isn’t earned.

The rendering of the animation is downright gorgeous and there are some hardy laughs to be had along the way. Unfortunately, there’s no spell powerful enough to magically fill the emotional void at the center of Onward.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Those are my thoughts on Onward. Are you interested in checking out this film? Or do your plans include another movie this weekend? If so, which ones? Sound off in the comments below and let me know all your thoughts on the topic!

‘The Invisible Man’ (2020) Movie Review: What’s Old Is Frightening Again!

DIRECTOR
Leigh Whannell
SCREENWRITER
Leigh Whannell
STARS
Elisabeth Moss
Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Aldis Hodge
Storm Reid
Harriet Dyer
Michael Dorman

RATING
R (for some strong bloody violence, and language)
RUNTIME
113 minutes
RELEASE DATE
February 28, 2020
STUDIO
Universal Pictures
GENRE
Horror, Mystery/Suspense


For nearly two decades, Universal Pictures has tried but failed to revamp their legacy monster movies as fantastical, action-packed adventures. Their grander vision ultimately included a shared cinematic universe that culminated with an Avengers-style monster mash-up. After The Mummy (2017) starring Tom Cruise failed to reanimate any real interest at the box office, the studio was forced to pull the plug on the prematurely announced “Dark Universe,” which would’ve seen some of Hollywood’s biggest stars taking on those iconic roles.

Instead of trying to force yet another square peg into a round hole, the studio smartly handed creative control of their monsters over to Blumhouse, a frequent collaborator as well as one of the production houses that pioneered last decade’s horror renaissance. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise then that the studio has found a way through Upgrade filmmaker Leigh Whannell to not only maintain the horror pedigree of The Invisible Man, but also give us the most terrifying and relevant take on his story since he first appeared (so to speak) in the pages of H.G. Wells‘ short story way back in 1897.

Instead of following an inconspicuous, cackling fiend (no offense to the great Claude Rains or even Kevin Bacon for that matter), Whannell smartly shifts the narrative focus onto a much more relatable heroine for the contemporary audiences in Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss). We quickly learn that Cecilia’s boyfriend, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), isn’t just a leading mind in the field of optics, he’s also a master manipulator and overbearing control freak.

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Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) faces off against The Invisible Man. | Universal Pictures

After Cecilia barely escapes from their prison-like California home with her life during a tense, tightly executed opening sequence, news drops that Adrian has taken his own life and left all his worldly possessions to his estranged hostage. Just when life seems to be turning around for our traumatized protagonist, she starts noticing strange goings-on that grow increasingly lethal and ultimately point to Adrian as the culprit. Eventually, Cecilia becomes convinced that her obsessive ex has discovered a way to turn himself invisible and secretly stalk her. If only someone would believe her!

The suspense of The Invisible Man– and it is suspenseful– doesn’t come from questioning whether or not Cecilia is actually being stalked by an unseen entity. Whannell makes it objectively clear early on that indeed she is. Rather, the core suspense lies in not knowing exactly who or what that entity is, when and where they’re going to strike next, and frantically pondering how Cecilia is going to make it out of the movie alive (all the while crossing your fingers that she does).

It goes without saying that none of this would even matter if we didn’t care about any of these people in the first place. Credit to Whannell here as his script allows just enough time for us to grow attached to Cecilia, her sister (Harriety Dyer), her best friend James (Aldis Hodge), and James’s daughter (Storm Reid). He also gets stronger performances from each of his actors. There isn’t a weak link in the bunch. That said, Invisible Man is ultimately a one-woman show. Every scene depends on Elisabeth Moss to sell any combination of complex emotions, the likes you’d expect out of a victim who’s spent years being simultaneously abused by one person and disregarded by others, and like a well-oiled machine, she delivers. Though it’s still early in the year, I don’t foresee film fans forgetting Moss’s performance by the time next year’s Oscars roll around. She’s that good.

Whannell and his cinematographer Stefan Duscio utilize the camera to further pile on the dread. Long, deliberately paced pans across a number of scenes allow the audience ample time to study seemingly empty frames for any slight movements or change in scenery that could signal that the Invisible Man is near. Claustrophobic close-up’s and POV shots seal the deal. Always do you feel trapped alongside Cecilia by the invisible threat, sharing in her fear as well as her adrenaline whenever she’s forced to confront it. It makes for a thrilling, well-balanced moviegoing experience.

Whannell does take his share of creative liberties with his story, as all movies do. More than once I found myself questioning the legitimacy of how certain scenarios would play out in the real world. Had The Invisible Man been a lesser film, these leaps in logic would’ve been much more distracting. As is, they are nothing more than mere bumps on a road that you’re not exactly sure where it leads, but you can’t help but enjoy the thrill of its many twists and turns.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Those are my thoughts on the The Invisible Man. Have you had a chance yet to check the film out for yourself? If so, do you concur with my opinion? Or perhaps you have a different point of view? Either way, sound off in the comments below and let us know all your The Invisible Man thoughts!