Home Entertainment Director Leigh Whannell developing Upgrade sequel TV series

Director Leigh Whannell developing Upgrade sequel TV series

3 min read

If you were to look up “Criminally underwatched” in the dictionary, you would see a picture of Upgrade. Ok, so maybe all of that is a lie as there is no “Criminally underwatched” entry in the dictionary, but if there was, writer/director Leigh Whannell’s brilliantly brutal 2018 sci-fi action-horror would be worthy of a two-page spread (also not how dictionaries work, but I’m just going with it). And now we’re getting more of that incredibleness… on the small screen.

/Film reports that Whannell is teaming with up with Blumhouse Television (Blumhouse produced the film) and writer/producer Tim Walsh to develop a new TV series that “picks up a few years after the events of the film”. Yep, this is not a reboot or adaptation but actually a sequel of sorts. The 2018 film saw Logan Marshall-Green (aka low budget Tom Hardy) star as Grey Trace, a technophobic mechanic living in a near-future America teeming with technological automation and innovations. Besides for being teased about his luddite ways, Grey lives a contented life with his wife Asha. That life is shattered when the self-driving car they’re in malfunctions and crashes. Opportunistic criminals attack the couple, killing Asha and shooting Grey in the neck, severing his spine and leaving him paralyzed.

After bouts of suicidal depression, Grey is approached by tech genius Eron Keen who offers him a secret test of STEM, an AI-controlled cybernetic implant that will let him walk again. Grey accepts under some dubious T&C’s, so that he can use his regained mobility to get revenge on the men that attacked him and his wife. When the unprepared Grey’s plans go sideways though, leaving him in a dangerous situation, he discovers that STEM can do more than just let him walk, overriding his body’s control towards some very violent actions. And, as Grey learns further, STEM has its own ideas on what it wants him to do.

The movie is pretty definitive in its resolution, so this new series reportedly “broadens the universe with an evolved version of STEM and a new host – imagining a world in which the government repurposes STEM to help curb criminal activity.” I’m hoping that doesn’t mean this is going the procedural route, but I have faith in Whannell. After writing/creating the Saw and Insidious franchises with James Wan, Whannell made his feature film directing debut with Upgrade and then followed that up with the utterly brilliant The Invisible Man, marking him as one of the hottest directors to watch in Hollywood right now. It’s unclear if Whannell will direct the entire series or just the pilot episode, but he will be involved all the way.

Walsh, who is a veteran writer/producer on shows like Chicago P.D., Shooter, and Treadstone, will act as showrunner for the series. A writer’s room has also been assembled, which will see Whannell and Walsh teaming up with Krystal Ziv Houghton and James Roland, showrunners on the second season of Blumhouse’s The Purge TV series. That’s a lot of in-house talent when it comes to thrillers to realise this series, and if Blumhouse keeps the hardcore tone of the movie (which I think they will) then I am super stoked to see how this turns out.

Last Updated: June 1, 2020


  1. It was a fun enough movie indeed.


  2. Alien Emperor Trevor

    June 1, 2020 at 14:31

    Upgrade was okay overall. I remember the villain being terrible & the writing wasn’t the greatest, but good enough – and interested enough to see a series based on the concept.


    • Kervyn Cloete

      June 1, 2020 at 15:13

      Your face is okay overall!

      wait… that sounded way nicer than I intended!


  3. CrAiGiSh

    June 2, 2020 at 11:11

    Movie was decent.
    Keen to see a series.


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