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Ben Wheatley Directed a Horror Movie Over 15 Days in Lockdown Ahead of ‘Tomb Raider 2’

The "Free Fire" and "High Rise" director went back to his horror roots while stuck in quarantine.

Ben Wheatley

Ben Wheatley

Aidan Monaghan / © Magnolia Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

Ben Wheatley’s career is set for a major boost with upcoming projects such as Netflix’s “Rebecca” remake and the Alica Vikander-starring “Tomb Raider” sequel, but there’s a secret third project the writer-director cooked up in quarantine over the summer. Wheatley confirms to Little White Lies that he shot a horror movie over 15 days in August in the middle of his coronavirus lockdown.

While Wheatley isn’t ready to share any further details about his mysterious new horror movie, Little White Lies notes the director “describes the film as a response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the result of a datedness that he perceived in the titles released to VOD that couldn’t take the new status quo into account.”

“I’ve said it a lot, but I think I’ve always seen it as there being genres of subject but also genres of budget, and those genres of budget are micro-budget, low-budget, mid-budget, and high-budget, which make for totally different filmmaking experiences,” Wheatley said, adding he shot the 15-day horror film as a palette cleanser and “just to keep [his] head together with lockdown happening.”

A horror movie will bring Wheatley back to his roots, as he broke onto the scene with his horror-leaning offerings “Kill List” and “Sightseers” before graduating to more ambitious genre fare like “Free Fire” and “High Rise.” Wheatley’s next release, Netflix’s “Rebecca,” finds him putting his own stamp on Daphne du Maurier’s Gothic classic of the same name. Wheatley has big shoes to fill, as Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 adaptation, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, won the Oscar for Best Picture. Wheatley’s “Rebecca” stars Lily James, Armie Hammer, and Kristin Scott Thomas and will release October 21 on the streaming platform.

Wheatley’s micro-budget secret horror film acted as a small-scale refresher ahead of the director mounting the “Tomb Raider” sequel. Vikander’s 2018 “Tomb Raider” was directed by Roar Uthaug and earned solid reviews, but it didn’t exactly set the box office on fire with just $274 million worldwide. Vikander is getting another go at the franchise with help from Wheatley, who is joining the world of franchise films for the first time with the action-adventure tentpole.

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