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Why the Until Dawn Movie Adaptation Is Doomed to Fail

Removing the interactive aspect of Until Dawn will degrade it to nothing more than a standard type of horror movie.

A new name has been added to the ever-growing list of games receiving a movie adaptation: Until Dawn. I’m a fan of the work of Supermassive Games, and in the reviews of House of Ashes and The Devil in Me, you’ll see that I always thoroughly enjoy their ‘choose your own adventure’ horror stories. Like many, I share the opinion that Until Dawn has been the pinnacle of their work so far though.

Screen Gems and PlayStation Productions see more in it than just a good game. The Hollywood Reporter announced yesterday that filmmaker David F. Sandberg and screenwriter Gary Dauberman are bringing Until Dawn to the big screen. Sandberg has directed films such as Lights Out, Annabelle: Creation, and the more recent Shazam! Dauberman is no stranger to Annabelle either, having written Annabelle: Creation and Annabelle Comes Home. In addition, he wrote horror films like The Nun and It Chapter Two. The two gentlemen certainly have plenty of horror expertise under their belt.

While the first season of The Dark Pictures Anthology and the in 2022 released The Quarry were entertaining, they have always remained in the shadow of Until Dawn. The interactions among the eight protagonists, the overarching story, and the (sometimes unpleasant) consequences of your choices were particularly impressive in the game released in 2015, which featured Rami Malek as a cast member.

For those who have never played Until Dawn, here’s a brief, spoiler-free summary, along with a very strong recommendation to pick up the game as soon as possible. Alright, so Until Dawn revolves around a group of teenagers spending a weekend in an abandoned ski lodge. In that very same area, one of the protagonists’ two sisters went missing a year earlier (I personally wouldn’t quickly return to an environment where such a personal tragedy occurred, but luckily, we can always count on foolish teenagers to provide us with some horror entertainment).

Soon enough, peculiar and downright eerie events start unfolding, and it’s up to the player to keep all eight protagonists alive. Or not. Through your choices and actions, you determine who will survive the terrifying night. And that’s precisely what makes these games so compelling. Remove that interactive aspect, and I fear there would be little left other than a standard horror adventure that we’ve seen served up many times before.

Feel free to correct me if my assessment turns out to be wrong once the Until Dawn film proves to be successful. However, I believe this film could only work in interactive form. I’m thinking along the lines of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. In this interactive film, featuring Will Poulter among others, viewers could make choices at certain points in the story, steering it in a particular direction.

A similar approach could set Until Dawn apart on the big screen. It actually somewhat surprises me that interactive films haven’t become a more significant trend. I understand that it involves a lot of additional filming and production work, but when done well, as a viewer, it’s truly delightful to be able to put your own spin on certain things, right?

The horror genre, in particular, is perfect for this. Perhaps we can take those typical thoughtless horror teenagers by the hand and steer them away from their unfortunate fate. How many times have you watched a horror film and wanted to shout at the TV: WHY ON EARTH ARE YOU GOING INTO THAT DARK, SCARY SPACE ALONE?! NO, SPLITTING UP THE GROUP WHILE BEING CHASED BY A PSYCHOPATIC KILLER IS NOT A GOOD IDEA.

A man can dream, but the likelihood is slim that the Until Dawn film adaptation can be influenced by the viewer. So, I’m curious about how the filmmakers will fill in the many choices that made the game so interesting.

Do you think a film adaptation of Until Dawn could work? Let me know in the comments below!

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