When Universal announced that a planned shared monster universe would kick off with a 2017 release of The Mummy (never mind Dracula Untold), the hope was to modernize the classic horror story and create more of an action-adventure film set in the present day.
The reboot will present a female mummy played by Sofia Boutella (Star Trek Beyond), abruptly awakened to wreak havoc across the globe, from the sands of the Middle East to secret labyrinths underneath London. Tom Cruise also stars as a former Navy SEAL who battles the resurrected monster, helpfully assisted by an archaeologist (Annabelle Wallis).
Screenwriter Jon Spaihts, who also co-wrote the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film Doctor Strange, is hoping to bring some of that same mind-bending awe to The Mummy. In an interview for The Hollywood Reporter,” he explained the parallel motivations in creating Dr. Strange and this rebooted monster adventure.
“I think [there is] a similar desire to legitimately explore the frightening and the cosmic. In The Mummy, I think we’re going to see the first Mummy film in the entire Universal canon with the true power to terrify. The earliest [Boris] Karloff and Bela Lugosi Mummy movies were scary in a small way, perhaps a dated way. They were almost parlor movies. Subsequent movies have been more swashbuckling. This one is going to have all of that action and adventure, but a legitimate power to terrify. I think that’s going to be the new experience of that film.”
When the official synopsis for The Mummy was released, it did reveal that the filmmakers had decided not to abandon the horror genre entirely, with its description of a vengeful ancient queen who acts with “malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.” While the entire synopsis gets a bit overblown in its adjective-laden promise of jaw-dropping spectacle, The Mummy actor Russell Crowe (Dr. Jekyll) described it more succinctly as a film “designed to seriously scare the s— out of you.”
This should all be good news to fans of the classic monsters who were worried this “adventure” reboot might be too Disneyized. Spaihts’ Doctor Strange dealt with the novice sorcerer’s terror of facing universes and enemies that existed well outside his carefully ordered and controlled world. It seems likely that rather than the sort of “gotcha” fright tactics of some horror films, the new Mummy will focus more on an epic build-up of existential dread. Even if this kick-off to the Universal Monster Franchise doesn’t quite live up to its own hype, it will hopefully manage an entertaining blend of fast-paced action and some seriously scary moments.