Exclusive: Christopher Nolan Developing Horror Movie

By Michileen Martin | Published

christopher nolan

Get ready for the architect of the cinematic Dark Knight to get a lot darker. According to our trusted and proven sources, Christopher Nolan is developing a horror movie. While he’s come close to doing so before, after 13 films (including the upcoming Oppenheimer), this will be the filmmaker’s first plunge into the horror genre.

Judging both by Christopher Nolan’s own words and his previous work, his first journey into horror is a long time coming. In a 2010 interview with the Daily Telegraph, the director revealed that Inception was first pitched to Warner Bros. as a horror film shortly after Nolan completed Insomnia. He shelved the project and by the time the studio gave him the green light, it had changed into a science fiction action film.

Christopher Nolan has publicly expressed his hopes to make a horror movie at some point. In a 2020 Q&A about Tenet with Fandango’s Movie Clips, the filmmaker called horror “definitely a genre I’m interested in” as well as “the most purely visceral” movie genre. He also compared some of the elements to his 2017 war film Dunkirk to techniques used in the more terror oriented storytelling.

It’s no secret that Christopher Nolan’s movies betrays elements of horror. Even in his first superhero movie, 2005’s Batman Begins, you can clearly see the influence of horror particularly in terms of Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow whose gaseous toxin makes victims experience their worst fears. When Scarecrow sees Batman while under the influence of his own gas, for example, the Dark Knight looks like a literal monster that could be the lead of its own scary movie franchise.

christopher nolan horror
Christian Bale as a monstrous Batman plucked from the imagination of Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy)
in Batman Begins (2005)

We also know Christopher Nolan counts some great horror movies among his influences. Earlier this year, ScreenRant combed through the director’s interviews and found he’d named a number of great terrifying stories as inspiring his own work. The “fractured narrative” of 1987’s Angel Heart, for example, gave the director some great ideas on how to approach the film that first made him a Hollywood contender — 2000’s Memento.

Christopher Nolan has also singled out the films of Ridley Scott — including the iconic 1979 sci-fi horror fusion Alien — as influences. He spoke glowingly of the late Rutger Hauer in 1986’s The Hitcher, saying the movie features the actor’s “finest and most influential Euro-psycho performance this side of Blade Runner.” Nolan got to collaborate with Hauer in Batman Begins, when the actor played a Wayne executive doing what he could to shut Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne out of the company.

We don’t yet know exactly what kind of horror movie Christopher Nolan is looking to make or the bones of the plot, but our sources’ report links up with an earlier one that the director is looking to work with the controversial Will Smith on his next project. The director was strongly considering the Men in Black star for Inception which, as we mentioned previously, was almost Nolan’s first horror flick.