New Van Helsing Movie From Overlord Director Produced By James Wan
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New Van Helsing Movie From Overlord Director Could Be Set In Universal’s Monsters Universe

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BY December 6, 2020

Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe was a failed attempt to create a shared horror universe like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Universal’s classic monsters turned into a shared universe seems like a great idea. But recently, that library of content got a kind of reboot in the Blumhouse collaboration, The Invisible Man. It took a lower budget approach to the larger than life strategy the first took. And it looks like that approach will continue with a new Van Helsing movie that has director Julius Avery on board, along with James Wan producing. 

What Was the Dark Universe and Why Did It Go Dark? 

new Van Helsing movie Dark Universe. Image via Universal Pictures.

The Universal Classic Monsters are a collection of the classic black and white monster movies of yesteryear. Some are in the public domain like Dracula, Frankenstein, Invisible Man, and the Wolfman. However, Universal’s original movies became the definitive cinematic versions of those monsters. The Dark Universe was an attempt to build a shared universe of this slate of monsters, featuring big names and even bigger personalities in the leading roles. An informal attempt happened with Dracula Untold in 2014, which was an origin story of the character, but failed to set the box office ablaze. Critics weren’t too pleased either. 

A more formal attempt universe began with the Dark Universe with The Mummy kicking things off as their version of Iron Man. And the face of this launch was none other than Tom Cruise, in a totally different Mummy movie. The movie was honestly interesting, but its uneven tone, cramming of easter eggs and shared universe setup made it a total mess. Its poor critical reception killed the Dark Universe before it began. Can Universal can still rebound by mining the classic monsters properties with a new Van Helsing movie? Yes but not in the way they originally planned. 

Universal Pictures’ Recent Approach to Classic Monsters

new Van Helsing movie Invisible Man. Image via Universal Pictures.

After the failure of the Dark Universe, Universal went a totally different route with The Invisible Man. Working with acclaimed horror production studio Blumhouse, they went with indie director Leigh Whannell for a movie that focused on story and not spectacle. The experiment was a success as Invisible Man was a huge commercial and critical success. So much so that they’re even going forward with a Wolfman movie featuring Ryan Gosling in the lead. The experience may have taught Universal to use their Monsters characters in a way that can still be modern and successful but not necessarily part of a shared universe. And I feel like this new Van Helsing movie fits in a similar mold. 

Who Is Van Helsing and How Does He Fit Into the Monsters’ World?

new Van Helsing movie Hugh Mummy. Image via Universal Pictures.

The character of Van Helsing is an interesting one. In a world of monsters, Helsing is an accomplished doctor of various subject, but his claim to fame is as a monster hunter. He first appeared in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, as the one hunting the immortal creature. He always appears as the arch-nemesis to Dracula in most literary and other adaptations of the character.

On film and TV, many actors have played Helsing, from Anthony Hopkins to Christopher Plummer. One of the bigger incarnations of the character came in 2004’s Van Helsing movie starring Hugh Jackman. The action-adventure movie made the character a badass monster hunter, of course. The movie meant to launch and start a kind of franchise, possibly the Dark Universe before it was a thing. However, it underperformed at the box office and so those plans kind of went nowhere. It was also a little jarring to see Jackman with long hair in a Pilgrim-style hat. I mean, it’s a fun  movie, but fell short as a foundation for a franchise. 

An Indie Horror Director Takes the Reins for the New Film

new Van Helsing movie Hugh Jackman Image via Universal Pictures.

A new Deadline.com report confirms the new Van Helsing movie has a director. Julius Avery, director of the criminally underrated Overlord, is set to take over and direct the new movie. The choice is an interesting one and gives us an idea of what to expect from a new Van Helsing movie. Avery’s Overlord was a dark, violent monster gorefest that rose above its very low expectations. If this new Van Helsing movie is anything similar to that tone, we can expect an R-rated supernatural slasher horror. Which is a pretty interesting route for a movie set in the Universal monsters world to go. However, there is no confirmation on what part Helsing will play in the movie, or whether it will be a period setting or a modern-day take on the character and story. No word yet on when this new Van Helsing movie will begin production either.  

Are you excited to revisit the supernatural world of the Universal monsters? Possibly in a whole new way? Let us know in the comments below. 

Featured image via Universal Pictures. 

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Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.

horrorJulius AveryOverlorduniversalUniversal Classic MonstersVan Helsing

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