Pardon my french, but hell yeah. Leigh Whannell is making a follow-up to his breakout hit sci-fi horror Upgrade, and we’re not getting a feature-length sequel, oh no, we’re getting a whole dang series. Blumhouse Television and NBCUniversal’s UCP are teaming to adapt Upgrade into a TV series with Whannell set to return as director. Whannell co-created and will executive produce the series with showrunner Tim Walsh (Shooter).
Per the press release, the series “picks up a few years after the events of the film and broadens the universe with an evolved version of STEM and a new host – imaging a world in which the government repurposes STEM to help curb criminal activity.”
The writer’s room has already kicked off adapting the series’ first season, Krystal Ziv Houghton and James Roland joining Whannell and Walsh. Houghton and Roland previously worked with Blumhouse Television and UCP as showrunners on Season 2 of The Purge, which similarly adapted a Blumhouse hit for series.
Whannell wrote and directed the 2018 film, a long-developed passion project for the Saw and Insidious writer/actor/producer. Logan Marshall-Green starred in a knockout performance as a man fuelled by vengeance after a mugging that killed his wife and left him paralyzed. But when a billionaire tech mogul offers him a computer implant called STEM that will allow him to not only walk again but also tap into extraordinary physical capabilities, he sets out to hunt down the people responsible for his wife’s murder and winds up being in way over his head when the STEM system starts to take matters into its own hands.
It absolutely owns. Upgrade is a tight, bone-crushing, innovative thriller that throws back to the heyday of mid-budget, R-rated, balls-to-the-wall, character-driven genre-benders. It immediately announced Whannell as a directorial force with killer kinetic vision, a fact that was reconfirmed when he reimagined The Invisible Man for Blumhouse this year and just completely crushed the gig. Both films are also super smart science fiction, building out worlds of technophobic nightmares and wonders, which makes the idea of a whole dang series set in that world extremely exciting. Upgrade gave us a very intimate story about how STEM corrupted and coopted one man’s life, and based on that official logline, it sounds like the series wants to go Galaxy Brain and apply that same idea to our systems and society. Sign. Me. Up.
No word yet on which network we can expect to see the Upgrade sequel series on, which is definitely a curious factor. NBCUniversal owns NBC, USA Network, and Syfy among others, in addition to their streaming service Peacock, and as you can tell by the different tonal connotations of all those brands, the home could definitely shape the style of the show — an especially interesting factor considering how ruthless the film was.
For more on Whannell, be sure to read Gregory Lawrence’s fantastic editorial on how The Invisible Man delivers some of the most satisfying and terrifying camera work in horror history.