Christopher Nolan’s Already Laid the Groundwork for a Great Horror Film

The filmmaker expressed interest recently in the genre

Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan, winner of the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Feature Film award for "Oppenheimer", poses in the press room during the 76th Directors Guild of America Awards.
Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

What would a Christopher Nolan-directed horror movie look like? Cinephiles may want to start speculating in a category that fits neatly beside “what would a Christopher Nolan James Bond film be like?” in the realm of films that don’t yet exist, but might at some point.

Citing comments Nolan made at a recent British Film Institute event, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Nolan is both a fan of the genre and someone eager to make his own mark with it.

“[A]t some point, I’d love to make a horror film. But I think a really good horror film requires a really exceptional idea — and those are few and far between,” Nolan told the BFI audience. “So I haven’t found the story that lends itself to that. But I think it’s a very interesting genre from a cinematic point of view.”

It doesn’t seem hard to imagine a Nolan-helmed horror movie, in part because plenty of his films have already made inroads into the genre. The twists and turns of The Prestige arrive at a place that, while not overtly horror, is still pretty horror-adjacent. Inception abounds with dream logic, which can sometimes double as nightmare logic — especially considering Marion Cotillard is playing, effectively, a vengeful ghost.

Robert Oppenheimer’s visions of nuclear devastation in Oppenheimer are nothing if not horrific, and another Cillian Murphy character in a Nolan film — Dr. Jonathan Crane in Batman Begins — turns pretty much every scene he’s in into something from a horror film.

Nolan’s filmography abounds with characters realizing awful truths about themselves and pushing themselves to do unspeakable things — all qualities that would translate well into outright horror. At the BFI event, Nolan pointed to the tone of horror films as another reason for his attraction to them. “[T]hey’re films that have a lot of bleakness, a lot of abstraction,” he said. “They have a lot qualities that Hollywood is generally very resistant to putting into films, but that’s a genre where it’s allowable.” What Nolan might do with the genre definitely feels like cause for anticipation.

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