The news broke late last week that David O. Russell, in one of his down periods as a director (presumably 2004-2009), started working as a writer for hire to keep himself afloat. That’s not unusual*, but he alluded to two scripts he wrote that were outside of his usual wheelhouse, including a horror film he claims Eli Roth is attached to direct.
“Well it’ll be coupled with Eli Roth, that’s exciting to me. Cause I had to write to support myself. So I wrote a horror for producer Colleen Camp a horror film that I thought was interesting. And Eli thinks its interesting, I think he’s going to make it more interesting,” he said. “It’s emotional, it’s also… we’ll see. It’s also…I don’t wanna say anything more, I’ll let Eli talk about it.”
Interesting! Seriously though, despite the dearth of real information he’s willing to divulge, my ticket is all but sold for some outside the box horror. You may remember that Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman were once commissioned by Sony to make a horror film. Kaufman later reworked some of that material into his directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York**, but I’ve always wondered what a full-fledged horror film about disease and existential dread from that combo might have looked like.
Now we have O. Russell calling his script, “emotional” which sounds about right. His edges have softened considerably since I Heart Huckabees and the unreleased, Nailed (about a woman who can’t control her sexual urges after accidentally getting shot in the head with a nail gun…yeah), but I’ve never considered him closed off emotionally as a storyteller. Huckabees, as weird as it gets, is anchored by some genuinely sweet moments between Mark Wahlberg and Jason Schwartzman, even if they are smacking each other in the face as they pour their hearts out to one another. That he made the transition to stories with clearer story arcs and less gonzo bullshit isn’t a shock, though it is a shame to lose that original voice.
So which O. Russell wrote this script? An angry dude watching his movie implode because of financial fuckery? A guy in the headspace of “existential detectives?” A guy humbled by failure and ready to give in to the Hollywood system with something “safe?” I guess its on Eli Roth to fill us in with more details at this point. At any rate, let’s all cross our fingers for an interesting, A-list horror film that doesn’t involve hauntings or home invasions. That would be a nice change.
*I listened to an interview with Scott Aukerman (Comedy Bang Bang!) where he talked about the re-writes he did for the Dreamwork’s Shark Tale. It’s like part-time holiday work for a lot of people in the industry.
**Synecdoche, New York, which I’ve only seen once, made me incredibly queasy. Dreamy expressionism is creepy!