Tom Cruise is a committed actor who always brings his A-game and that goes for the handful of horror movies he’s starred-in
While many critics are currently slamming Universal’s first entry in their proposed Dark Universe series of interconnected monster movies, director Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy, some of those scribes are citing this as the worst Tom Cruise movie ever. Others are using Cruise’s presence in what is ostensibly a horror movie as a negative, like dramatic or serious performing is beneath the veteran actor. This is a common problem Cruise has had with film snobs and select critics since he was in his career infancy. Praised for parading around in his underpants in 1982’s erotic teen comedy Risky Business, Cruise would get slammed time and time again for rolling the dice and progressing his pretty boy persona, parlaying his box office success by inserting himself into many “serious” films and working with an onslaught of A-list auteur directors.
It’s a shame that Cruise’s detractors seemingly willfully forget his blistering turn in Oliver Stone’s Born on the 4th of July. It’s criminal that Dustin Hoffman got the love for Barry Levinson’s Rain Main and Cruise’s performance – the heart of the film – was ignored. It’s terminally lame that people forget that Cruise never coasts on his mainstream fame and always aims to hone his craft, taking detours into indie fare (Magnolia) and broad comedy (Tropic Thunder). He’s one of the great action heroes (the Mission Impossible and Jack Reacher movies) and he’s a sure hand at Sci-Fi (Edge of Tomorrow is a certifiable masterpiece and Cruise carries it all). Maybe people can’t overlook the whole Scientology thing, I don’t know…
So here comes The Mummy and, whether you love it or don’t (our first review was indifferent but expect more reactions from our other writers this weekend), it’s misguided to pick on Cruise as the film’s flaw. Cruise is a marvel really, a performer who has owned Hollywood for decades and yet is fully committed to experimenting and defying expectations. And when it comes to horror he’s no stranger. In fact the handful of horror and dark fantasy films he’s appeared in are that much better for his presence.
Join us for a moment and cycle through these 5 fantastic fright films that feature Cruise as both monster and monster hunter and in fine form.
Ridley Scott’s beautiful dark fantasy film doesn’t make much sense – in either the British or US cuts – but who cares. It’s a sensual movie filled with monsters, maidens, woodland creatures and Tim Curry as the imposing, pontificating Devil in the flesh. Cruise is heroic in this tale but his youth and physicality make him an ideal protagonist and the film surrounding him is like nothing else.
Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Controversy surrounding the casting of Cruise as Anne Rice’s hotshot vampire hero Lestat in this lush Neil Jordan film were unfounded. As of this writing, Cruise is the definitive Lestat, a pompous, preening parasitic dandy who is really just an insecure child hungering for family. Cruise is a marvel here, leering, lusting, murdering humans to get his blood fixes and flipping the bird to polite society. In Rice’s novel, Lestat is one dimensional. The beauty of this performance is that Cruise subtly introduces complexities that are later explored in the Lestat novels, making his monster much more endearing. One of the best vampire films ever made and Cruise’s stellar work is a big part of its success.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Tom Cruise and then-wife Nicole Kidman star and helped nurture maverick filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s fever dream sex drama, a surrealist manifesto about marriage, infidelity and shadowy secret societies. This would be Kubrick’s final film and many now cite the picture as his best. No argument here. Cruise is magnetic as an egomaniacal doctor who inserts himself into the underbelly of a haunted New York in search of sex when his wife admits to a fantasy about another man. The centerpiece of this haunting and beautiful film sees Cruise trapped in a clandestine, ritualistic sex club that is potentially linked to murder and worse. Or is it? Nothing is what it seems in this long, slow, strange and anti-erotic horror movie.
Vanilla Sky (2000)
Producers Cruise, Kidman and director Cameron Crowe wanted to remake Alejandro Amenabar’s Spanish horror film Open Your Eye so they made a deal to do so while also producing Amenabar’s US debut, the unforgettable The Others. Vanilla Sky is a masterpiece, a movie that follows the plot of its source but is totally remounted as a Crow pop culture piece, filled with music, dialogue-as-foreplay, sweaty palmed romance and wanton, meandering weirdness. The movie is a psychotronic puzzle and by the time it winds down – to the strains of Sigur Ros’ “The Nothing Song” – you’ll be profoundly affected. An underrated work that offers Cruise at the peak of his powers.
War of the Worlds (2005)
Transplanting HG Wells’ victorian alien invasion novel to contemporary America, Steven Spielberg’s War of the World’s is a thundering shocker laced with the sort of melancholy human and family drama that the director trades in. Cruise is fantastic as a selfish single dad who finds his purpose when he’s forced to save his babies from the screaming, blood-drinking martian tripods that lay waste to the planet.There are scenes in this movie that have a nightmarish quality that’s hard to shake. It’s a great horror movie and Cruise is pitch perfect.
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