With diversifications of Gerald’s Recreation, The Haunting of Hill Home and Physician Sleep already underneath his belt, and extra on the best way, Mike Flanagan is uniquely certified to opine on the typically fraught technique of adapting beloved horror tales for the display. That was the concept behind a particular digital dialog held Sunday afternoon between Flanagan and fellow filmmaker/Stephen King aficionado Mick Garris – who directed The Stand, Sleepwalkers, Bag of Bones, plus the ’97 Shining miniseries that the writer famously most well-liked to the enduring Stanley Kubrick model.
The occasion was held as a part of this 12 months’s Fantasia Worldwide Movie Pageant, after the annual Canadian style pageant went totally digital for 2020 because of COVID-19. (Different highlights from this 12 months’s digital fest, which runs till September 2, have included a masterclass with style legend John Carpenter.)
Through the hour-long dialog, the pair of filmmakers touched on Flanagan’s method to adaptation – “The priority for me is always about trying to answer that impossible question of what do you keep, what do you lose and what do you change,” defined Flanagan – in addition to the tightrope he walked whereas making an attempt to appease each King followers and Kubrick followers with Physician Sleep. (“I was petrified when I sent the script to King,” he recalled.)
Flanagan additionally dropped a couple of hints on what to anticipate from his upcoming tasks, together with The Haunting of Bly Manor, his much-anticipated follow-up to The Haunting of Hill Home for Netflix.
Whereas the primary season tackled Shirley Jackson’s 1959 gothic horror story, Bly Manor is impressed by Henry James’ The Flip of the Screw. The 1898 novella has been already been tailored for the display quite a few occasions since its publication, most notably for 1961’s critically-acclaimed The Innocents and most not too long ago as The Turning, which launched earlier this 12 months. So, with Bly Manor, Flanagan defined, “It’s not about doing a straight adaptation anymore – that’s already been done.” Even when he needed to do a strict, to-the-letter model, anyway, it might by no means be sufficient story to fill a whole season of TV. “We’d cover two episodes, and then we’d have eight episodes of filler,” he joked. “I need to make a 10-hour version of this.”
Much like his method with Hill Home, that meant remixing the unique parts of the story unique parts to create one thing new: “That way, I can hopefully honor the source material but do it in a way that’s constantly surprising. And what I learned with Hill House was that [the show] takes on a life of its own rather quickly.”
For Bly Manor, Flanagan and the writers’ room expanded their scope, pulling not simply from Flip of the Screw, however James’ complete physique of ghost tales. “When the show launches, you’ll see each episode is actually the title of one of his stories. They’re all braided together and made to work in one (hopefully) cohesive story.”
Nonetheless, updating James’ prose for the season’s 1980s setting proved difficult. “His language is not something that’s as easy to relate to for a contemporary reader or viewer. And certainly not easy to adapt,” stated Flanagan. The extra they dug into the writer’s work, nevertheless, the extra they uncovered echoes of recent horror.
“There’s a story Henry James wrote called The Romance of Certain Old Clothes, which is a phenomenal short ghost story, and if you strip away all of the proper language and all of the context of the time, underneath it, you see the DNA of The Ring, The Grudge,” he stated. “They’re all there. And he was one of the first to be playing with them.”
The busy author/director additionally touched on the standing of some different pending tasks throughout the occasion, together with one other King adaptation: “I don’t know where it will go, but I adore Revival,” he stated, calling it “the closest to a viciously cynical ending that I think I’m capable of.”
He’s additionally bought The Midnight Membership upcoming for Netflix (to not be confused with Midnight Mass, the unique horror sequence Flanagan is producing for the streaming big). It’s one other dream undertaking for the filmmaker – in faculty, he wrote an (unauthorized) adaptation of the 1994 Christopher Pike novel and despatched it to Pike’s brokers. “They sent me a cease and desist letter,” he recalled, laughing. Much like Bly Manor, the sequence received’t simply be based mostly on the titular novel, however impressed by parts from a number of of Pike’s books.
Flanagan additionally gave an replace on his dormant Shining prequel, Hallorann, which centered round Dick Hallorann, who seems in each The Shining and Physician Sleep and was first portrayed by Scatman Crothers within the 1980 movie. To date, Flanagan has a “thorough outline” and items of a script, however the undertaking is on maintain indefinitely, a results of each the Shining sequel’s underwhelming field workplace and now COVID. “I don’t know if it’ll go any further, to be honest,” he admitted. “I hope someday it gets back on track, because I really liked it.”
“There’s this huge chunk of [Hallorran’s] life where King just never provided anything, and that’s where we want to play. The fun part about that is I’ve got signposts on either side of that story,” stated Flanagan. “I know where he begins and I knows where he ends. It’s all about getting him from that little boy at the beginning of Doctor Sleep, who’s talking about his evil grandfather and learning about the shining and the lockboxes and getting him to be that man who takes the job at the Overlook Hotel. And who clearly, as referenced all over the books, had some kind of very traumatic experience in Room 237, or 217 in the book.”
“That would be an incredible job. I don’t know how to approach that. I do know that I would need to touch base with King constantly, to make sure that we’re not messing up his character.”
As for whether or not the author/director has every other dream tasks nonetheless left on his ever-growing to-do record? “I’ve got the answer that most Stephen King fans are going to have,” he stated. “The Dark Tower is forever going to be the story I wish I could tell. That would be the Holy Grail. I mean, talk about an adaptation challenge… So many very talented people have poured so much time and heart and soul and blood, sweat and tears trying to crack that.” (The newest try didn’t make it previous the pilot stage at Amazon earlier this 12 months, following the poorly-received 2017 movie starring Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba.)
“That for me would be the one. I don’t know how that would happen, or if it could happen. That property, it’s daunting. Just to think about even taking first steps toward it.”
Whether or not he ever will get a crack at The Darkish Tower books or not, Flanagan is aware of he’s already been extraordinarily lucky on the difference entrance. Wanting again at 2019, he says, “We started the year in Hill House and ended it in the Overlook Hotel. Just as a horror literature fan, I don’t know that I’m ever allowed to complain about anything ever again.”
You may watch the hour-long panel for your self under: