Julian Terry’s feature directorial debut will be an immensely creepy pied-piper story.
Back in 2017, Warner Bros. announced a contest on their website to promote the release of Annabelle: Creation. Contestants essentially had to create their own addition to The Conjuring universe in the form of a short film, with winners coming from multiple countries. The American winner of this contest was Julian Terry, who stunned with his entry, The Nurse.
Just one year later, Terry, who reported on his Twitter that he had been approached by three different managers following his Conjuring win, has something major brewing. Deadline reports that Legendary Entertainment and The Picture Company are turning his new proof-of-concept short film They Hear It into a feature-length film.
Much of the project is still under wraps in terms of the rest of the plot, and it sounds like the two production companies plan to keep it that way. However, based on what we already know about the storyline of the short version of They Hear It, we can expect something both ominous and compelling.
The main action of They Hear It will center around a sinister noise, referred to as “The Sound,” which attracts and draws in any children who hear it. It’s not clear if the children affected are influenced by “The Sound” to take any evil action or are simply drawn to it, nor whom or what is producing it.
They Hear It evokes a similar mood to IT, where the safety of children is not guaranteed and is threatened by an unknown entity. It’s notable that there are similar themes in both films because IT director Andy Muschietti gained traction in the horror genre by helming the low-budget scary movie Mama.
Like Terry’s project, Mama began as a short. The Hollywood feature adapted Muschietti’s own Argentine film — original title, Mamá — and was successful both with critics and at the box office. Like Muschietti, Terry will make his feature debut expanding his own short, and he could find his own breakout success through the low-budget horror release.
We can certainly anticipate something simple yet thrilling in terms of execution from Terry based on his past work in horror. The Nurse has a somewhat open-ended conclusion yet gets there through an excellent use of tension. It’s a simple concept, a girl wakes up in a hospital with bandages covering her eyes. There is a disturbing presence in the room with her, in the form of an unseen nurse. Terry conveys the unnatural mood of the films in the Conjuring franchise perfectly, while still making the short his own with the invention of the “Nurse” character.
Clearly, he is adept at finding scares in the unexpected. Like in his second horror short, Whisper, where an Amazon Alexa device begins exhibiting strange behavior. Terry showcases his ability to turn modern-day technology into something frightening (where more recent full-length horror films like Unfriended have failed). There is an honest level of discomfort in the short; generating genuine fear is undoubtedly a talent of Terry’s.
Whatever “The Sound” turns out to be in They Hear It, we can bet the kids that inhabit the film are in for something truly unsettling. Hopefully, Terry and the minds at Legendary will continue to keep quiet (get it?) about plot details and aspects not seen in the original short to make the film truly surprising come opening day.