Universal has had a rough go of it in terms of trying to bring their classic set of monster movie properties into the modern age, but from the ashes of the failed Dark Universe, they’ve finally seem to hit upon a concept that works: Lower-budget thrillers from promising directors. Yes, as it turns out, not every project in Hollywood needs to be part of a shared universe in order to be effective. Case in point: 2020’s The Invisible Man, which kicked off this new era of Universal horror by costing only $7 million to make, before making more than $130 million at the global box office and receiving rave reviews. Now that is how you revive and reimagine these iconic characters—not by doing whatever they were trying to do in Tom Cruise’s The Mummy.
There’s a handful of projects in this vein coming down the pipe, including Elizabeth Banks’ The Invisible Woman and a film about Dracula’s servant Renfield. We can now add another potential one to the list, in the form of a new Van Helsing film produced by horror maestro James Wan and directed by Julius Avery, who brought us the Nazi zombie movie Overlord. It would be unrelated to the TV version of Van Helsing, currently in its fifth season on SyFy, but would likewise revolve around the famed monster hunter who first appeared in 1931’s Dracula.
Fans likely remember the Van Helsing pictured above—the hero’s last big cinematic outing was in the 2004 film starring Hugh Jackman. That Van Helsing was attempting to please all audiences at once—it brought back all the classic monsters but leaned heavily on CGI and action spectacle over any attempt at seriousness or fright. It was, more or less, a Universal action movie in the mold of Michael Bay, and although it ultimately made $300 million globally it was still considered something of a financial disappointment. It seems safe to say that the new Van Helsing from Avery will be much more humble, and likely comport itself in a more grounded (and hopefully scary) way.
One would think that Avery will likely have no small amount of creative freedom in crafting this new version of Van Helsing, considering that Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man was allowed to retain an R rating. It will be fascinating to see just how dark the filmmaker wants to go with this character, and in what era he chooses to set his story. We’ll bring you more information on this project as it arrives.