Karyn Kusama on her scrapped Dracula movie: “People lost their nerve”

Director Karyn Kusama
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Director Karyn Kusama has talked about her aborted Dracula movie at Blumhouse, claiming the film’s critical take on men was too much for the studio.

Go back three years or so and we were awash with projects based on Dracula. There was Last Voyage Of The Demeter, Renfield, Chloe Zao’s sci-fi vampire Western and Karyn Kusama’s Blumhouse project, all of which were set to offer varying takes on the Prince of Darkness.

As is often the case in Hollywood when lots of similar(ish) projects bubble up at the same time, not all of them made it into production. We did get Last Voyage Of The Demeter and Renfield (although the former never got a theatrical release in the UK) but some other projects have yet to materialise: Chloe Zhao ended up working on Hamnet, her take on Shakespeare and his wife dealing with the loss of their young son.

The other Dracula project that has yet to appear was Karyn Kusama’s collaboration with Blumhouse, which was working under the title of Mina Harker. Back in 2021 it was confirmed to have still been in development, with Jason Blum saying, “I’ll say this, it’s in very active development, so we’re getting very close.”

However, at some point, the whole project fell apart and the Destroyer director has been chatting to Polygon (via World Of Reel) about why the project never came to fruition. From her point of view, Blumhouse were hesitant at the direction Kusama wanted to go in.

Read more: Dracula movies and their box office troubles

As she puts it: “I would say that the Dracula movie I was making wasn’t a straightforward monster movie. And so perhaps that was its problem. It was very much rooted in the monsters that start at home in humans. That’s what was going to make it distinctive was that Dracula was more than a force of evil. He was a man, and that is, in some ways, both its reason for being and its obstacle. It was really hard to get the movie made. And even though we got so close, three weeks from shooting, people lost their nerve.”

It’s an odd take (given how much development cash Blumhouse would have put into the project) that Kusama offers to explain the death of the project. After all, Bumhouse’s take on The Invisible Man had released just a year prior and had featured another classic Universal monster reframed in a narrative which examined the uglier side of masculinity. It makes you wonder just how far Kusama’s film would have pushed in this direction to make the folks at Blumhouse pull the plug on the project just three weeks from production.

It’s a shame we’l never get to see Kusama’s take on Dracula and an even greater shame that she hasn’t made a film since. She’s worked on TV instead, but hopefully, we’ll see her on a movie set again in the near future given that she’s bought us films like Jennifer’s Body, Girlfight and The Invitation.

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