Remakes are coming out even faster and even more furious, it seems. Only 14 years after Universal’s action-adventure take on The Mummy, we may soon get a Mummy reboot helmed by Mama‘s wunderkind director Andrés Muschietti. Mama was a surprise hit for Universal, Muschietti and producer Guillermo Del Toro, bringing in $146 million worldwide on a budget of $15 million. Previously announced director Len Wiseman (who helmed the remake of Total Recall) left the Mummy project in July. Muschietti and Universal have been in talks since August and if Muschietti takes over the directing reins, the accent may be on unsettling, atmospheric horror rather than on a big factory-produced slam-bang adventure tale.
Produced by Fringe’s Roberto Orci, Star Trek’s Alex Kurtzman and The Mummy (1999)’s Sean Daniel, and penned by Jon Spaihts (Prometheus), the Mummy reboot takes place in the modern age and is described as an “action-adventure tentpole with horror elements.” Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz will not appear in the horror-tinged reboot by the young Spanish director, a protégé of Guillermo del Toro, as the film is a fresh reboot and disregards the earlier films that took place in the 1920’s.
Muschietti’s Mama is an elegantly made little thriller in the Val Lewton tradition of less-is-more horror evocation. Perhaps too restrictive for the gory tastes of today’s male genre fans, less bloodthirsty female teens apparently made up the difference at the box office, as Mama provokes enough tension and gasps to keep susceptible viewers leaping out of their seats… or grabbing hold of their delighted partners. Audiences are spooked by fleeting apparitions of the mysterious title character while maintaining interest in two deeply disturbed (almost feral) orphan girls, whose behavior is being studied by a financially-strapped young couple, played by Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones).
Will one-film wonder Muschietti’s playfully horrific style mesh with the demands of a typical big-budget action-packed Hollywood blockbuster loosely based on Karl Freund’s legendary 1932 The Mummy starring Boris Karloff? That all depends on the nature and extent of the as-yet-undefined “horror elements” promised for the Mummy reboot. It is hoped that Muschietti will avoid the ignoble fates of Irish director Jim Sheridan on Dream House (2011) or German director Oliver Hirschbiegel on The Invasion (2007). Both films were considered too subtle – too “European”, if you will – taken out of their directors’ hands and extensively recut, with new scenes added.
Doing away with the 1920s setting and characters that served Stephen Sommers through The Mummy (1999) and its two sequels, the new film will bring the story right up-to-date and unleash ancient terrors upon the modern world and a brand-new cast of characters. Though the plot of Jon Spaihts’ script might as well be buried with Imhotep for now, reports say that it’ll be a darker take on the material, albeit still leaning towards action-adventure with the horror seeping in, as it were.
So will Mummy overtake Mama? Aye, there’s the rub. For more on The Mummy, Andres Muschietti and Universal, check back here at DiaboliqueMagazine.com.