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We’ve Wanted This Kind of Horror Movie from Edgar Wright for a Long Time

The ‘Shaun of the Dead director isn’t laughing anymore.
Edgar Wright zombie
Universal Pictures
By  · Published on January 22nd, 2019

We have been eagerly awaiting news of Edgar Wright’s next project since he blew our minds with Baby Driver almost two years ago. He has had a few cool things in the works. One is a rock documentary about the band Sparks, and Baby Driver 2 is also happening at some point. In the meantime, though, we have something completely different to look forward to.

In an interview with Empire, Wright revealed that his next project is a psychological horror-thriller in the vein of Don’t Look Now and Repulsion. The story, which he co-wrote with Krysty Wilson-Cairns (Penny Dreadful), is set in London and will center around a female lead. The film is expected to start shooting this summer.

Check out what he had to say about the movie below:

“I realized I had never made a film about central London – specifically Soho, somewhere I’ve spent a huge amount of time in the last 25 years. With ‘Hot Fuzz’ and ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ you make movies about places you’ve lived in. This movie is about the London I’ve existed in.”

While Wright is keeping the film’s title and plot details close to his chest, his words suggest that his upcoming movie will deal with some existential themes and the city setting will feel like a character in its own right. Don’t Look Now and Repulsion are both excellent psychological terror tales, but their backdrops are essential to their stories, and they complement the existential woes felt by their central characters.

Having Wilson-Cairns on board as a writer is exciting as well, given that she’s already demonstrated a knack for writing horror stories that are very specific to a cultural setting. Penny Dreadful’s vision of Victorian London is one of its many appealing qualities, and the show does a great job at transporting the viewer to that world. Wright has also made movies where the setting accentuates the story and immerses the audience in its universe. Needless to say, this pair is a winning combo on paper and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us.

Of course, the big news here is that Wright is moving further away from his comedy roots. While his projects have a tendency to be genre-hoppers, comedy is the thread that connects the majority of his work. That said, Baby Driver, while humorous in spots, showcased a more serious side to the director that suggested he wanted to branch out and explore. This movie is further proof that he wants to keep mixing it up, but it was inevitable that he’d make a pure horror movie eventually.

The horror genre and Wright’s projects have been frequent bedfellows throughout the director’s career. Until now, though, his darker tendencies have perhaps been overshadowed by his comedic sensibilities. However, when you look at his oeuvre, you can tell that he’s been itching to fully unleash the darkness since the beginning.

Asylum, a forgotten sitcom from the ’90s that Wright co-created with David Walliams, boasts a horrifying concept at its core. The story takes place in an isolated mansion where an authoritarian doctor has institutionalized members of the public as part of a bizarre experiment. While the show isn’t horror-centric, its premise could easily lend itself to some straight-up fright fare. Furthermore, the idea could have been partly inspired by 1972’s Asylum, an excellent British horror that Wright just so happens to be a huge fan of.

However, with his next sitcom, Spaced, Wright pushed his horror influences to the forefront at times. In the “Art” episode, Tim (Simon Pegg) starts seeing everyone as zombies during a drug-induced freak-out. But the show is littered with references to spooky pop culture that had an impact on Wright. Therefore, it was rather fitting that he rose to international fame with a horror-comedy.

Shaun of the Dead might be a parody of zombie films in places, but it genuinely respects their heritage and doesn’t shy away from peppering in a few scares and emotional gut-punches. The scenes where the surviving characters are holed up in the Winchester pub, trying to evade the hungry undead hordes, are viscerally thrilling and nerve-wracking. Plus, the casualties are unwelcome and felt. To put it simply: Shaun of the Dead is one of those rare horror-comedies that occupies a strong, happy medium between both genres.

In Hot Fuzz, Wright embraced his horror sensibilities once again. While the movie is often regarded as his comedic love letter to Hollywood action blockbusters and buddy cop movies, it also incorporates elements from murder-mysteries, slasher movies, and folk horror. In the case of the latter, the film contains several references to The Wicker Man, with the most obvious one being the casting of Edward Woodward as a police officer.

The World’s End, on the other hand, is Wright’s most haunting movie to date. Sure, the alien invasion element is reminiscent of sci-fi horror classics like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and They Live, and there’s some post-apocalyptic stuff thrown in for good measure. But that’s not what makes the movie scary. It’s a story about longing for the good old days of youth. And while the film is still hilarious, weird, and goofy, it’s also quite dark, disturbing, and uncomfortably poignant at times. If this movie removed the comedy, it’d be a depressing slice of horror-laden science fiction.

Even with his most overtly comedic offerings, Wright has shown that horror permeates his DNA. Whenever his movies have called for high stakes danger, psychological turmoil, blood-letting, and creepy content, he’s shown that there’s more to him than laughs and fun. At the same time, until now, we’ve only seen hints of what he’s capable of in the horror realm. With this in mind, to see him approach the genre head-on, without laughs to soften the blows, is a very exciting thought.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.