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Why You Should be Excited About Hiro Murai’s ‘Man Alive’

The ‘Atlanta’ director is making an original sci-fi film with the creators of ‘It Follows’ and ‘Legion.’
By  · Published on June 15th, 2018

The ‘Atlanta’ director is making an original sci-fi film with the creators of ‘It Follows’ and ‘Legion.’

It’s no secret that Hiro Murai is having a great year. In addition to directing standout episodes of Atlanta and Barry, he also helmed the music video for Childish Gambino’s “This Is America.” Quickly becoming one of the biggest online talking points, the video is a visual feast of provocative imagery.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Murai already has his next project lined up. According to Deadline, the director is in talks for Man Alive, an original sci-fi story from 20th Century Fox that will mark his debut feature film.

Murai isn’t the only big name attached to the project. Joining him is It Follows writer/director David Robert Mitchell, who will re-write the original spec script by newcomer Joe Greenberg.

The idea was originally acquired by Fox back in 2016, when it was also reported that Fargo and Legion creator Noah Hawley would take the helm. Despite no longer directing, likely due to his pivot to Pale Blue Dot, Hawley will still produce the film.

While little else is known about Man Alive at the moment, the Deadline report contains an intriguing synopsis:

“Man Alive covers the events following the invasion of earth by an alien species, when a man faced with isolation and loneliness in order to survive realizes he might not be alone after all.”

Murai’s oddball sensibilities would appear to be just right for this story of isolation in the face of the unknown. After all, the director’s off-kilter style already led to one of the most memorable sequences from Legion‘s first season, in which Aubrey Plaza’s Shadow King dances through David’s memories, altering them as she goes. Watch below.

Murai’s flair for visual storytelling and ability to warp the viewer’s sense of reality are all over that sequence. And just thinking about how he’ll handle the struggle to survive an alien invasion makes us very excited.

That surrealism also goes hand in hand with his mastery of the ‘gut punch,’ something that should absolutely carry over to his first feature. You needn’t look further than Atlanta‘s pilot, “The Big Bang”, for evidence of this. The episode opens with a startling shooting and later sees Donald Glover’s Earn interacting with a bizarre Nutella-sandwich-eating stranger on the bus.

And throughout the rest of the series, Murai has continued to demonstrate why he’s a perfect fit for what’s been best described as Glover’s “Twin Peaks with rappers.”

Mitchell on re-write duties is also cause for anticipation, after the way he played on fears about sexuality in It Follows. Additionally, early reviews of his upcoming follow-up Under the Silver Lake (including our own) indicate that his knack for the disturbing isn’t going anywhere. If that sense of dread is brought to Man Alive‘s script, we could be in for something very special here.

Recent years have seen a significant rise in quality sci-fi, both in film and television. Filmmakers such as Alex Garland and Jeff Nichols have offered up original ideas, putting the genre in an exciting place. New perspectives on the world around us have also come from adaptations of books and contemporary updates of older films. Despite low box office numbers, films like Annihilation and Blade Runner 2049 have been eaten up by sci-fi fans.

The promise of television’s boldest voices, including Murai and Hawley, bringing original sci-fi to the big screen is worth celebrating. Especially when entire films fail to pack the same punch as the “This Is America” video’s opening gunshot. We’re looking at a filmmaker who’s only scratched the surface of his cinematic potential here. One with a fresh and unique vision to bring to viewers.

Whether you’ve been following him for years or you had your first taste from the unforgettable Childish Gambino video, Hiro Murai’s first film is one to look out for.

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