Friday, 23 November 2012

Casting the Runes: the movie?

From our 'What? Really?' department comes news of a film based on M.R. James 'Casting the Runes', and directed by Joe Dante, famed for such much-loved Eighties fare as The Howling and Explorers. Steve Duffy, one of the top-flight authors who gave early issues of ST a lot of credibility, just drew my attention to this:

When up-and-coming actor Jake Harrington inexplicably hurls himself in front of an oncoming subway train, celebrity gossip blogger Mark Dunning smells a story in Harrington's connection to self-help guru Simon Karswell. What Dunning isn't prepared for is the secret behind Karswell's motivational-speaker success: a command of dark occult forces that reveals his following to be more cult than therapy. Harrington had insisted that Karswell had summoned something with tools he called "runes," raising a being that was stalking Harrington with intent to kill.

Karswell makes it clear to Dunning that he doesn't want him pursuing the story, and that he could "cast the runes" on Dunning just as he did on Harrington - and Dunning is sufficiently unnerved to question it himself.

That is, until Lila James, the famed, gorgeous and grieving actress girlfriend of Harrington, turns to Dunning for help: she knows Harrington wanted out of Karswell's cult, and Karswell was unwilling to let him go. Now, she fears that she too is trapped, and sees in Dunning an ally in helping her escape. Unable to resist both her and the story possibilities, he agrees to help.

But Karswell isn't eager to let such a jewel in his cult's crown leave so easily - now, Dunning will learn what Jake Harrington learned before him: when Simon Karswell casts the runes, a clock starts ticking. Three days after Dunning receives a strange message from Karswell, the thing that came for Harrington will come for him... and with every second, it's getting closer - unless Dunning can find a way to stop it, and cast the runes back on Karswell.

Interweaving elements of a noir crime tale with the chills of an occult thriller in the tradition of THE OMEN, CASTING THE RUNES is a contemporary spin on the classic story by M.R. James, employing elements not only from that tale, but offering as well a veritable greatest hits of James's classic nightmares - including legendary masterworks like "Oh, Whistle and I'll Come You, Lad" and "The Mezzotint." Nobody made spectral monsters like M.R. James, and the best are all here. Parading his most chilling visions across the screen, CASTING THE RUNES brings the greatest ghost stories - and the greatest ghost story writer - of all time, firmly into the twenty-first century.
Now that looks pretty good to me. The blurb at least shows appreciation of James' work and it makes perfect sense to flesh out the not-really-feature-length title story with some other ingredients. The film is listed as in development by the imdb site, with a release date of 2013. Of course, a project can be stuck in development hell for years, if not decades, so we can believe in Casting the Runes when it's actually, erm, cast. But this is all very interesting.


Oscar Solis said...

As much I enjoy the idea of someone making Casting the Runes into a big film (or, rather, making yet another version as Night of the Demon was the first) I can't help but feel some trepidation, given the propensity of Hollywood to make loud, obvious, hit them on the head horror stories and while Joe Dante makes fun films, they tend to be the above type, just better than most.

However, knowing that Dante is one of the better informed directors when it comes to past films maybe he'll go the route of Night of the Demon and make something that is as classy as that. I'm not holding my breath because that film is easily one of the greatest supernatural films eve. A very hard act to top.

valdemar said...

Yes, it's hard to imagine anyone producing a better film. But Dante's involvement is interesting. I find it hard to believe anything will come of it.

galerius said...

Let's hope it won't end like the planned remake of Night of the Demon by Kenneth Branagh, or Mortis Rex...