Is The Whitest Kids U’ Know’s Zach Cregger Turning Into the Next Jordan Peele?
Before every remaining Hollywood horror producer catches on to the winning formula, it’s time to officially coin the sketch-comedian-turned-poignant-horror-film-director career arc as the “Jordan Peele Pipeline.”
The Whitest Kids U’ Know founding member Zach Cregger followed in Peele’s footsteps when he went from writing and performing in some of the finest sketch comedy of the 2000s and 2010s to writing and directing one of the best subtly socially minded horror films in recent memory with last year’s Barbarian. The film was a box office and critical success as tastemakers and horror fans alike flocked to its dark humor, its skin-crawling creepiness and its razor sharp storytelling — and the rest of Hollywood has taken note.
Earlier this week, Cregger’s newest horror script, Weapons, went to market in what The Hollywood Reporter described as a “brief but intense bidding war” that ended in New Line Cinema offering Cregger an eight-figure deal for him to produce, write and direct his new film with a guaranteed greenlight, a theatrical release, final cut privileges and a controlling interest in the backend pot. Thank god they didn’t do the same thing with “Yuppie Indentured Servant.”
Comedy and horror are naturally symbiotic, a concept proven by Get Out, Us and Nope director Peele — films from both genres follow the same rhythm of setup and payoff, they progress plotlines through heightening concepts and raising stakes and they only succeed when writers and director manage to keep their audience on their toes, not knowing what’s coming next. Cregger executed this merger perfectly in Barbarian, creating some of the funniest and scariest moments in film in 2022.
But it’s not just Cregger’s comedic background or his blending of humorous and horror elements that make him an easy comparison to Peele — Barbarian was also an incisive, satirical film that addressed deeply serious social issues related to sexual assault with a deft touch, which is similar to how Peele has incorporated elements of race and class into each of his horror films. Peele also gave Cregger advice during the production of Barbarian, which Cregger vaguely summed up as, “He gave me a crash course on how to handle the inevitable challenges, and that was so valuable.”
Very little is known about Cregger’s upcoming project, but that didn’t stop studios from attempting to buy the script sight-unseen for eight-figure sums before it went to auction. Weapons is described as “an interrelated, multistory horror epic,” and with Cregger’s proven ability to weave disparate storylines into a whole that is more monstrous, sickly funny and intensely engaging than the sum of its parts, that description already has us making Google Alerts for opening night tickets.
With Cregger poised to join Peele as the comedians at the forefront of the so-called “elevated horror” genre, we wonder which popular 2000s sketch comic will become the next politically minded scary movie prodigy. Maybe Bobby Moynihan has a killer script where David S. Pumpkins is an allegory for the dangers of climate change.