Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions look to tighten their grasp over the horror corner of the box office this Friday. While Truth or Dare received tepid reviews, it still grossed just north of $40 million on a tiny $3.5 million production budget earlier in April (Box Office Mojo, nd). Later this year Blumhouse is set to release the latest Halloween sequel. In the meantime, Blumhouse also has Leigh Whannell’s latest directorial effort, Upgrade kicking off June.
What is It About and When Is It Coming Out
Upgrade is a sci-fi/horror ‘upgrading’ of 1970’s exploitation-style revenge films. Set in a future where technology is integrated into virtually all aspects of life, Grey Trace is paralyzed and his wife murdered by a group of thugs. Despite being a technophobe, Grey allows himself to be implanted with an experimental computer chip called Stem that integrates with his central nervous system. Now ‘upgraded’ and able to walk, Grey uses his virtual assistant, Stem, to take revenge on his wife’s killers.
For American horror and sci-fi fans, Upgrade is hitting theatres tomorrow on June 1 2018. Australian fans will have to wait nearly two weeks before the sci-fi/horror films surfaces ‘Down Under’ on June 14. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any release information for Canadian theatres.
Who’s Making It
Maybe you’ve heard of this Leigh Whannell guy. A regular jack-of-all trades, Whannell wrote the screenplays for the first three installments of the Saw franchise and all four of the Insidious films. He played Adam in Saw and has appeared in the Insidious films as Specs, one of Elise’s two ghost hunter sidekicks. To date, Update marks Whannell’s second time behind the camera as director. His previous directorial credit was Insidious: Chapter 3. The bottom line is that Whannell has about as much currency for this type of film as fans could hope.
Who’s In It
Upgrade looks like a small budget sci-fi/horror thriller – exactly the type of film upon which Blumhouse has built its reputation. Not surprisingly then, the cast is made up of less familiar names that may be recognizable to audiences from past small roles. Star Logan Marshall-Green had a small role as the first ‘Shocker’ in last summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. Fans of Get Out will recognize Betty Gabriel from her performance as Georgina. Aside from Marshall-Green and Gabriel, the rest of the cast looks like it’s rounded out by Australian actors.
What Does the Trailer Tell Us
A few months ago Eli Roth dumped the tone deaf, bland-looking remake of Death Wish into theatres; it was met with a collective shrugging of shoulders. Technically, Upgrade shares some DNA with Death Wish; it’s an exploitation, revenge film. However, the synopsis provided for Whannell’s film marries the concept with a clever, socially-relevant technology angle – it’s ‘Google Home Meets Death Wish’. In addition, the trailer promises a ‘no-holds barred’ mix of violence and dark humor that was completely missing from Roth’s ill-advised Death Wish remake.
Overall, Whannell looks like he’s achieved a balance between bone-crunching, inventive violence and tongue-in-cheek gags. Some of the clips in the trailer suggest an almost ‘Bugs Bunny’ level of violent lunacy in the film. At present, reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are pretty positive for Upgrade. I’ll definitely be checking it out once it gets released at a theatre close to me. If you’re still not convinced, check out the red band trailer below –