The Dowdles and M. Night Shyamalan send Chris Messina to the ‘Devil’

10.16.09 8 years ago

It was inevitable.

I’ve long maintained that in his heart of hearts, M. Night Shyamalan wants to be Rod Serling when he grows up.  Which is a good goal for any writer to have, in my opinion.  Serling was a guy who never met a twist ending he didn’t like, and who believed that every fantastic premise needed a kernal of moral truth at the center, and he was a prolific writer as well as a deeply influential producer.

When the announcement was made a while ago that Shyamalan was developing a branded series of projects called “The Night Chronicles,” there was much eye-rolling and sarcasm, and he’s certainly earned a bit of that.  But I like the idea of him using other writers and directors and giving them a chance to make something under the protective umbrella of the M. Night name.  In particular, I like the idea of him giving John and Erik Dowdle the chance.

I took a lot of heat for programming “The Poughkeepsie Tapes” at Butt-Numb-A-Thon a few years ago, and I regret nothing.  I know that horror is a very personal genre, and what you respond to depends on your own experience and your own personal fears, and I am of the opinion that the horror genre is frequently misrepresented by filmmakers and fans who don’t like real horror.  They like the idea of watching a horror movie, but they don’t really want to be horrified.  I don’t believe that the notion of “safety” has any place in real horror.  When I’m watching a scene like the Girl Scout scene in “Poughkeepsie,” it makes me deply uncomfortable precisely because I don’t trust the filmmakers to steer me safely through the sequence.

I think “Quarantine” is about as good a direct remake of “[REC]” as anyone could have made, even if I question the need for the remake to exist at all, but it felt like a side-step for the Dowdles, a way to keep them working in the studio system while not letting them make something of their own.  They’ve been developing a few projects, like a monster movie over at Legendary that would let them play with a fairly big cultural icon if it happens, but I always felt like if they were going to get their shot at doing something original on a serious budget, it was going to be the M. Night movie that gave them that shot.

And now, it looks like “Devil” is moving forward.

Working from a script by Brian Nelson, the Dowdles will direct Chris Messina in the lead in this mid-budget horror film that’s about to start shooting in Toronto.  Plot details are secret right now (big surprise), but I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that the film has something to do with the Devil.

There is a deal with Media Rights Capital to produce two more films in the “M. Night Chronicles” series after this, with “Devil” set for release sometime in 2010.

The story originally ran in Variety.

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