Leigh Whannell doesn’t need to prove his horror credentials at this stage, having co-created the unstoppable Saw series alongside lifelong buddy James Wan. Although he partook in Wan’s other world-conquering franchise for its third part, with the (fairly decent) Insidious: Chapter 3 there was still a sense that Whannell wasn’t really showing off what he could do.
Now, finally, his sophomore feature Upgrade is here to be his calling card. And what a calling card it is, effortlessly blending action, sci-fi, horror, and well-judged humour to create a delightful smorgasbord of fun, gory madness. The increasingly crazy action is grounded by an assured performance from Logan Marshall Green, who shows that The Invitation was no fluke (give this man more leads).
The snyopsis, from Frightfest, where the flick played to a rapturous response, is as follows:
From Saw and Insidious creator Leigh Whannell, a fast-paced, inventive, sci-fi thrill-ride, swirling together Robocop, Death Wish, The Terminator, and numerous Cronenberg body horror influences. Set in the near future, technology controls nearly all aspects of life. But when self-identified technophobe Grey Trace is made quadriplegic in a car accident his world is turned upside down. His only hope for closure and possible revenge is an experimental computer chip implant called STEM that allows him to achieve miraculous feats of mind and strength. But then STEM starts to take full control of his body and the true nano nightmares begin.
Directed and written by Whannell, the flick stars Green in the lead role of technophobe Grey, alongside Get Out alumnus Betty Gabriel, Melanie Vallejo, and Steve Danielson. It takes place in a future world not unlike our own, which is brilliantly conceived by Whannell so its tactility is never not felt.
Wicked Horror caught up with Whannell at Frightfest 2018 in London to discuss his actual first movie, the physicality of Green’s performance, and feeling the pressure on the festival circuit.
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Interview conducted by: Joey Keogh
Camera: Richard Waters
Editing: Richard Waters