By now you’ve probably heard the news that Ex-Drummer director Koen Mortier is planning on penning and directing an adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s “Haunted,” the story of a group of writer’s on a writing retreat who sabotage themselves into suffering for what they believe will be fame, art, and fortune.
Normally, I’m the first to jump in the air at the news of a Palahniuk adaptation. His work has been the cornerstone of my minimalist literature experience, and I continue returning to his novels even after second and third readings. However, “Haunted” is an animal all itself, and for several reasons, I think that it might not translate to the medium of film. At all.
First, the novel is told as a modern-day “Canterbury Tales.” It’s set up as a journey-narrative interrupted by each storyteller’s tale, essentially creating 23 separate stories. If the movie is two hours long, that leaves less than 6 minutes a piece for the stories. Less considering the framing story needs space. That either means massive cuts or a disgustingly long movie. Or fewer characters.
Secondly, the book works because it’s split up into chapters. The movie would have no such luxury, either having to pan back and forth between flashback-style stories and the main narrative. This could be incredibly cumbersome. It could crush the flow of the movie and make it incredibly tedious for an audience to follow.
My final thought is not based on mechanics, but on the story itself. There are almost 20 characters that all carry similar weight, and every story they present is radically different – although everything is tied together by a theme of Reality Television and the new fame. Each writer stuck in the same building tries to destroy themselves and each other. That theme is going to have trouble shining through with the bulk of the storytelling spreading around.
While I’m glad that Palahniuk’s novels are steadily making their way to the big screen since we’re on the verge of celebrating the ten year anniversary of Fight Club, I think this one might have been better left to the page instead of the screen.
What do you think? Have you read Haunted? Do you think it will translate well to screen?