The horror novel adaptation sounds like classic Osgood Perkins territory.
For his third feature as a director, Osgood Perkins (The Blackcoat’s Daughter) is adapting Paul Tremblay’s “A Head Full of Ghosts,” a horror novel told from the perspective of an eight-year-old girl who watches her sister struggle with demonic possession. Childhood is rarely so simple. The girls’ father is unemployed, the family finances are failing, and Dad has recently discovered the importance of religion in his life. Put a drink in his hand and lose the demonic possession, and you’re looking at a very real and terrible childhood for his daughters.
The novel takes a turn for the worse when the dad and his priest conspire to have an exorcism on his daughter performed on a new reality television show. That’s how America does bleak. American-Bleak? Is that a phrase? Regardless. This is a perfect story space for Perkins. Which is great because Deadline is reporting that he will also rewrite the current script, which was written by the duo of Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski (Super Dark Times).
Osgood also wrote his first two films. They’re quality arthouse horror and thoroughly explore a creeping sense of dread. Unusually, his second feature found distribution via Netflix before his first film was even released. The former, I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House, is not for everyone. The naysayers will argue it was an excessively patient build to a conclusion you can see coming. Actually, the fans will argue that, too. Only, maybe without the “excessively” part. Fans of experimental arthouse horror will absolutely revel in the deep exploration of the lasting impact of the dead.
His first feature, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, is a slow-paced psychological horror film about the seductive allure of devil worship and the ensuing consequences, both immediate and longterm. He also wrote the screenplay for the horror movie The Girl in the Photographs, made around the same time. Basically, Perkins has an excellent sense of style that seems perfectly suited to explore a fracturing American home as the devil and reality television gobble them up.
If we’re all lucky enough, in a year or so when A Head Full of Ghosts comes out, we won’t find it too real to handle.
To a certain extent, the America which might be on display in this film feels a little similar to what we saw in the television adaptation of Preacher. The tone will almost certainly be very different, especially given Perkins’ background. It’s more of that down-home feel of a past-its-expiration date middle America. Supernatural agents and despicably motivated characters enact their unholy schemes in the background as people struggle to make their way in the middle. Granted, that’s just a vision based on an understanding of the novel and Perkins’ sensibilities. It could go in any direction. Perhaps we’ll see Osgood Perkins’ movie-version of the painting American Gothic by way of The Exorcist.
Focus Features’ top two box office winners are Brokeback Mountain and Coraline, both well-regarded adaptations of the written word. They’ve also got an eye for horror films to snatch up for distribution. Their VOD focused distributor, Focus World, snagged the rights for Julia Ducournau’s Raw. They’ve got an eye for engaging films.
There’s no release date or casting news for A Head Full of Ghosts yet. We’ll see what comes of it. There’s quite a bit of potential for something foreboding and immersive in a look at real horror from a child’s perspective.