You never quite know what Ben Wheatley is going to do next. In the mid 2010s, the director – who rose up with gritty independent films like Down Terrace and Kill List – started to bag starrier names in the like of High-Rise and Free Fire. Then he went lo-fi again with comedy-drama Happy New Year, Colin Burstead, before moving back into far glossier territory with Netflix’s star-studded Rebecca adaptation. Then, amid Covid, he went back into scuzzy horror mode with In The Earth, which pivoted him into… Meg 2: The Trench? His career is a thrillingly unpredictable ride. But if you thought his blood-spattered indie days might be over after his foray into blockbuster-dom, think again.
“What I’m doing next is six hours for Channel 4, [a] TV series, a horror-based thing,” Wheatley said at an Empire VIP screening of Meg 2: The Trench. “In the same way I did In The Earth after Rebecca, I’ll do something that’s back to [the] Kill List-y, Sightseers-y world.” That project will be zoomers-vs-boomers zombie satire Generation Z – a series that Wheatley announced back in summer 2019, but which went on pause amid the pandemic.
While he plans to oscillate between big projects and more intimate ones, Wheatley hopes for more blockbusters in his future. “Once I’ve got that [horror series] out of my system, then I’ll be looking to do another larger film,” he says, noting that the current writers and actors strikes might play a part in where he goes beyond that. “The world is completely unknitted, thanks to the various strikes. Who knows what the situation will be like in the new year, but there’s skills learned on [Meg 2] that are patently not transferable to anything else but doing something massive,” he laughs. You could say his ambition, post The Trench, is kaiju-sized. Asked by an audience member if he’d like to make a full-on monster movie one day, Wheatley responded: “This is kind of a kaiju film, by the back door. It’s quite a big old shark! But yeah, I’d like to go bigger.” Who’s ready for ‘Kill List 2: Kill Everybody’?
Listen to Empire’s full live Ben Wheatley interview on the Empire Podcast. To receive invites to future events – and receive the magazine monthly and Spoiler Special podcasts – join the Empire VIP Club here. Meg 2: The Trench is out now in UK cinemas.