'Until Dawn' Movie Won't Be the Next 'Last of Us' For One Unfortunate Reason
Turning Until Dawn into a movie isn’t as sure of a success as you might think.
After the success of The Last of Us on HBO, it is no surprise that Sony is continuing to double down on the video game adaptation. At a time when it seems like superhero fatigue is at an all-time high, the wealth of video games primed to be adapted to the big or small screen may be the next big trend and Sony has a massive catalog of games to choose from.
While we know projects related to Ghost of Tsushima and other PlayStation exclusives are in the works, the latest project to be announced is a film adaptation of the cult horror game Until Dawn. Which — out of the entire catalog of Sony games — seems like one of the more perplexing choices that could have been made.
Now I know what the argument for an Until Dawn movie is, so let's get that out of the way. Developed by Supermassive Games and released in 2015, Until Dawn is essentially an interactive horror movie that lets the player make key choices throughout the story to change the fate of characters. With a cast full of recognizable faces doing their best send-up of horror B-movies, the game is dripping with cinematic style.
Until Dawn is already incredibly close to being a movie in its current form, which much like the prestige television stylings of The Last of Us, is what many think makes it a prime candidate for adaptation. But it ignores the only part of Until Dawn that justifies its existence.
As far as the story of Until Dawn goes, its attempts at being cinema are in line with its B-horror inspirations. It’s fine. The story and performances of Until Dawn are incredibly campy, walking the fine line between funny and outright bad. What makes it all work is the player’s ability to guide the narrative.
If you have ever thought it would be fun to just watch the culprit of a slasher movie pick off every single character then you can do that in Until Dawn. But you can also do your best to get a perfect run, saving everybody and solving the central mysteries. This turns Until Dawn into either a funny slasher film where you revel in the increasingly absurd downfalls of each character or a thrilling adventure where you are always on the precipice of failure or success.
One of the greatest joys of Until Dawn comes from playing it with friends, allowing everybody to make new choices that you never tried. Leading to an exceptionally unique horror movie night that can be different every time. Despite its cinematic appearance, Until Dawn thrives on player choice.
By stripping Until Dawn of these choices and creating a single linear narrative in the form of a movie, it turns a unique riff on the horror genre (and how we experience it as an audience) into another bland horror film that fails to live up to the movies that inspired it. If you want to watch an Until Dawn movie, you can look up a no-commentary walkthrough on YouTube right now!
But due to the game’s use of cinematic storytelling people assume that it will inherently translate to being a good movie. The issue is that games with cinematic or prestige TV inclinations don’t always make for good adaptations. The Last of Us on HBO mostly worked because in many ways the moment-to-moment gameplay of the original game is meaningless in the grand scheme of the narrative. The cutscenes do the heavy lifting, so the great story already requires no interactivity. Until Dawn, on the other hand, thrives on the ability to change the narrative.
Unless we get a Clue-style event where the movie has different endings, I fail to see what a film adaptation brings to the table.