Karyn Kusama had a rough go of this Hollywood business nearly from the beginning. After winning acclaim for her first feature, the independently-financed drama Girlfight starring Michelle Rodriguez, she moved on to studio filmmaking with the poorly-received 2005 live-action adaptation of Aeon Flux, which — as she previously told Girls on Film co-hosts Miri Jedeikin and Roth Cornet — was “very much a committee's film.” After that came the 2009 Megan Fox vehicle Jennifer's Body, which didn't fare much better either critically or commercially (though it has become something of a minor “cult” film).
Nonetheless, working on Jennifer's Body seems to have sparked in Kusama a love of telling stories through the lens of horror, and after several years spent away from the feature world (though she did helm episodes of series like Halt and Catch Fire and The Man in the High Castle in the interim), she returned to her indie roots to direct The Invitation, a low-budget horror/thriller that won her, for the first time since Girlfight, critical respect.
Personally, I didn't think The Invitation completely worked, but I 100% applaud Kusama's willingness to tackle complex adult themes in a genre that too often settles for easy jump scares and/or cheap shocks; in spite of its flaws, it's a film you can't quite shake once it's over. Better, its apparent success seems to have reignited the director's career, as she and The Invitation co-writers Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay (the latter is also Kusama's husband) have now signed on to collaborate on the Fox horror film Breed, based on the Scott Spencer (née Chase Novak) novel of the same name.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Breed “follows a wealthy New York couple who turn to a controversial Eastern European fertility clinic to conceive when all conventional methods fail. Ten years later, the nightmarish side effects of the procedure begin to manifest for – and in – the couple and their twin children.”
This is definitely a horror film to watch out for. After 15-plus years in the business, Kusama has suddenly become one of the most interesting filmmakers working in the genre, and presumably she'll have a bit more of a budget to work with this time given that the film is being financed by a major studio (The Invitation was made for just $1 million). That said, her two best films were made outside the studio system, so here's hoping that Fox will be hands-off enough to let her realize her vision without the constraints that accompanied her work on a film like Aeon Flux.
In any event, check out The Invitation if you haven't seen it yet (it's currently streaming on Netflix). And if you care to get a better sense of Kusama's genre influences, you can check out her personal list of the Top 10 horror films of all time here, and read her eloquent thoughts on her No. 1 pick — Roman Polanski's 1968 classic Rosemary's Baby — here.