Until Dawn was one of my favorite games of 2015, so you’d think I’d be happy that Sony is planning a movie adaptation. Initially, I was thrilled by the news — a cinematic horror game inspired by horror movies seems like an easy slam dunk for a big-screen adaptation, right? However, the more I thought about it, the more qualms I had with the concept of an Until Dawn movie.
Farewell, old friends
Until Dawn focuses on a group of teenagers. The horror genre is no stranger to older actors playing younger characters, but with the original cast of Until Dawn pushing into their forties, a recast could be in order.
What worries me about this is that the original cast’s performances and chemistry were so good — the dynamics of the group were tight knit, with each actor’s performance building off the others to fuel the drama of the narrative. Rami Malek’s emotional performance as Josh in particular still sticks with me to this day. I think it’s a shame that we’ll probably lose the fantastic original cast, and I worry about new actors being able to capture that same intrigue.
Real humans aren't as scary as 2015 mocap
Horror video games inherently have a big trick in their playbook that live-action movies don’t — the uncanny valley.
We’re getting closer, but human characters in video games still aren’t fully life-like, and they definitely weren’t back in 2015. Think about Silent Hill on PS1, where the uncanny looking humans and unusual line delivery made players much more on edge.
Until Dawn looks much more realistic, but the same concept applies. The motion-capture facial expressions specifically add a big element of unease to the game. The characters don’t always react the way you think they will, which enhances the twists and turns in the game's plot, since you don’t quite know who you can trust. I’ve yet to see this translate the same way in live-action — stilted vocal delivery or facial expressions just come across as odd.
The concept — inspired or unimaginitive?
While Until Dawn’s plot has some decent bones, I worry about it transitioning to the big screen. For me, the draw of Until Dawn was that it was an interactive horror story you could control, not the story itself. All the scares were heightened by the fact that they happened under the player’s influence, and the game even attempted to get into the player’s head by getting to know their own personal fears. Perhaps this could be recreated on-screen as a choose-your-own adventure akin to Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, but translating it to a movie in theaters seems impossible.
Uncharted is a video game franchise inspired by blockbuster action movies, and it received a movie adaptation in 2022. Critics did not favor Uncharted’s outing to theaters. It was well-cast, but it was pretty much a bland, derivative action movie without much else going for it.
I like Until Dawn’s plot in the context of the game, but without the input of player choice and option for multiple endings, it could be too thin for a full movie. Still, Uncharted was a financial success — it made $407 million on its $120 million budget, and became the 5th highest grossing video game movie of all time. So what do I know — maybe Until Dawn will go the same way.
I do hope I’m proven wrong, but as of now I’m cautious about the prospect of an Until Dawn movie. At the end of the day, whether the movie turns out good or bad, I’ll definitely visit a theater to see it. Even if I need to dust off the old PS4 and replay the game again afterwards to remind myself how good the original was.
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Millie is a Deals writer at Tom's Guide specializing in deals content. She also covers the latest tech news and and creates how-to articles about everything from phones, streaming devices, and headphones to apps and video games. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, gaming on her Nintendo Switch and creating digital art.