Sean Durkin knows farms.
In his spine-tingling, 2011 directorial debut “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” Durkin explored the inner-workings of modern cult life, an organic brainwashing operation set against a lush plantation. John Hawkes' Old McManson was creepy as hell, but the backdrop – just lovely! Durkin has taken time and deviations in putting a follow-up feature together (he recently directed the British mini-series “Southcliffe,” which earned him a BAFTA), but his next project is coming to light – and takes him back to the homestead.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Durkin is set to direct a film version of Laura Ingalls Wilder's “Little House in the Prairie,” previously adapted into the popular Michael Landon-led TV that aired on NBC from 1974 to 1983. The books follow a fictionalized version of Laura as she grows up the in the 19th century American Midwest. Scott Rudin is producing the feature project, from a script by Abi Morgan (“Shame,” “The Invisible Woman”).
The material seems especially fitting for Durkin, whose subdued genre instincts lend themselves to Wilder's unexpectedly terrifying books. Harsh conditions and ailments of the 1880s are just the tip of the iceberg. The “Little House” TV show was known for its disturbing moments. In one episode, a mime mask-wearing child-predator targets young girls in their hometown of Walnut Grove. One ends up dead. Earlier in the show, Laura's adopted brother Albert tries smoking for the first time… only to burn down the school for the blind that resulted in the death of Laura's sister Mary's baby. So many tragedies for Durkin to choose from.
Sony Pictures will release “Little House in the Prairie.” There's no word on who will join the resurrected Ingalls family – “Martha” stars Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson and Hawkes all seem fitting for 19th century garb – but let the fantasy casting begin.