From a largely forgotten flop to an alien invasion horror to a campy vampire classic, how to Top Gun 2 star Tom Cruise’s horror movies measure up?
Although Top Gun: Maverick star Tom Cruise is a huge horror fan, the actor’s own entries into the genre have not all been major successes. A quick glance at the many unmade Tom Cruise horror movies proves that the blockbuster star has a deep affinity for the genre, even though some of his most promising projects have ended up canceled for various reasons.
Despite his enduring appreciation of the genre, however, Cruise has not starred in many horror movies over the years. Since the actor became a major movie star in his youth, Cruise never needed to build up credits by starring in potentially embarrassing early horror movies before big-name fame came calling. This means that Cruise’s few horror efforts were carefully selected—whether or not that made the end result any better is largely up for debate.
Cruise’s three horror movies to date include a bug-budget action-horror blockbuster based on an existing series, a tragic vampire movie, and an alien invasion thriller. Like Alexander Skarsgård, his horror movies offer a diverse cross-section of the genre. Unfortunately for Cruise, the critical reception of his horror movies is also just as mixed as Skarsgård’s inconsistent output in the genre. Only one of Cruise’s horror movies was a hit with reviewers while another was a critical disaster, and the third divided fans and critics.
2017’s The Mummy was intended to set up an entire Universal Dark Universe, but the flop proved a rare misfire for Tom Cruise. Grim, grey, and terminally un-scary, 2017’s The Mummy squandered an impressive cast including Cruise, Russell Crowe, and Jake Johnson on a story that took itself far too seriously, especially when compared to the Brendan Frasier-led original. The largely humorless tone made rare moments of levity feel misplaced while Cruise’s action heroics made the horror ineffective, resulting in a disastrously misjudged final product. While 1999’s The Mummy offered a perfect template for horror-action blockbuster success, 2017’s The Mummy did its best to kill Universal’s doomed Dark Universe before the franchise could get started.
War of the Worlds
Spielberg’s post 9/11 alien invasion horror War of the Worlds is memorably intense and features some great performances including Cruise’s central turn as the perpetually panicked antihero. However, War of the Worlds is never truly scary despite some thrilling set-pieces and a darker tone than many goofier blockbusters pitting aliens from another world against the military. Tim Robbins steals the show as a creepy survivalist and the preternaturally talented Dakota Fanning is superb as Cruise’s terrified child, but as a whole, War of the Worlds is merely passable where the alien invasion horror could have been unforgettable.
Interview With A Vampire
The campy Anne Rice adaptation Interview With A Vampire remains one of the great tragic vampire romances alongside Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Cruise’s co-star and fellow horror fan Brad Pitt impresses as the heartbroken Louis, the brooding counterpart to Cruise’s sneering undead villain Lestat. However, it is a phenomenal turn from then ten-year-old Kristen Dunst that elevates Interview With A Vampire to classic status. Perfectly capturing the balance of horror, camp, and genuine pathos that makes Rice’s melodrama so effective, director Neil Jordan’s Interview With A Vampire remains both an underrated addition to the vampire cinema canon and the best horror movie from Top Gun: Maverick star Tom Cruise (so far).
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