The Eric Heisserer and Jon Spaihts-scripted “Van Helsing” is arguably the most mysterious and yet crucial film in the chain of interconnected monster movies in development at Universal Pictures.
“Arrival” scribe Heisserer and “Passengers” scribe Spaihts are among two of the earliest hires in the monster movie initiative – despite their film being one of the last to be released following this Summer’s “The Mummy” along with new takes on “The Invisible Man,” “The Wolf Man” and “Bride of Frankenstein”.
Out talking up the home video release of “Arrival,” Heisserer was asked by Collider about his take on the vampire hunter character who originated in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and was previously adapted as an almost superhero-type in the Hugh Jackman-led film:
“Well I guess the biggest thing that’s already been said is it’s contemporary, it’s a modern-day reimagining… I can talk about my emotional state of what I’ve been passionate about or sometimes frustrated by are the number of films where we find an extraordinary character with superhuman abilities that becomes a hero to solve a problem that a normal person cannot solve.
And I was eager to try and buck that trend and showcase someone who had no extraordinary powers, just resourcefulness and will and kind of a stubbornness who’s able to tackle some of these bigger problems. Because I don’t like the idea that we’re infusing our public and our pop culture with the idea that only super people can solve the world’s problems. I like the idea of the everyday hero stepping up to the plate and getting things fixed.”
Like the “Transformers” franchise starting with this Summer’s ‘The Last Knight,’ this cinematic universe assembled a writers room to spitball ideas before the individual scribes went off and did their own thing. Heisserer reveals how that process worked and how it led to him getting the gig:
“We all came in without putting a flag down on any of those certain monsters or films, just talking about how we saw the world working and what we wanted to explore. Sometimes we’d talk about themes, and Jon and I just found ourselves kind of on the same page in terms of what we wanted to see Van Helsing explore. It was a natural team-up, I think. It was just a conclusion that we all reached around the table that he and I would work on that together.”
Heisserer isn’t sure of the tone of the finished product, but did indicate he tried to infuse some horror elements into the script:
“I don’t know what it’s going to look like at the end of the process, so I’m gonna withhold on commenting on really where it lands. I can say that my intent stepping in was to make it as scary as possible, partly because I know how to do that, and also because when you’re the only human surrounded by a bunch of supernatural creatures, that’s gotta be absolutely unnerving.”
The solo “Van Helsing” film has yet to secure date. Universal’s monsters initiative kicks off with Alex Kurtzman’s “The Mummy” starring Tom Cruise which opens June 9th.