Universal’s Dark Universe looks to be dead in the black lagoon, and The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro might know why.
In an interview with ScreenRant, del Toro was asked why it’s so hard for the most recent monster movie reboots to succeed like their 20th century counterparts. Del Toro would know better than anyone, as The Shape of Water is one of the most genuine monster movies of the past decade. He believes there’s too much emphasis on dissecting the genre, with directors trying, and largely failing, to circumvent the genre’s common tropes rather than stepping back and creating an enjoyable scary movie.
I think that there is a postmodern attitude towards the genre that tries to disarm or disassemble the genre in a postmodern way and I think that when you approach characters with earnest love, it’s a lot less safe because you’re not above the material. You are high on your own supply and it’s easier to be ironic, so I think that’s part of it.
This comes on the heels of del Toro revealing he had the chance to “take over the Monster Universe” back in 2007, but chose not to do it—something he still regrets to this day. It’s unfortunate, as it looks like Universal’s latest venture back into its own monster movie franchise was killed before it could really start, following Tom Cruise’s disappointing The Mummy. That said, del Toro did add that there are some directors approaching monster horror in ways that comment on the genre while not treating it like a hurdle to overcome.
“You have ambivalent things, like Jordan Peele nailing it [with Get Out] and making it not ironic, but reflexive. And he’s a fusion of reverence and intelligence,” del Toro added.