While James Wan has projects lined up that encompass many genres – Aquaman and MacGyver, to name just two – horror is clearly where the filmmaker’s heart is. His directorial efforts may be diversifying, but his producer’s eye remains focused clearly on the shadowy, darker corners of the minds of his audience – and those shadows will soon take the form of an adaptation of the popular 2014 novel, The Boy Who Drew Monsters, by Keith Donohue.
The adaptation will be written by Ian Goldberg (Once Upon A Time) and Richard Naing (making his screenwriting debut), and will be produced by Wan for New Line. The plot of the book, which you can check out below, has all the elements of a great scary tale, featuring aspects of ghost stories, combined with a ‘creature feature’ atmosphere.
“Ever since he nearly drowned in the ocean three years earlier, ten year old Jack Peter Keenan has been deathly afraid to leave his home in a small coastal town in Maine. Instead, Jack Peter begins to draw monsters, and when those monsters take on a life of their own, no one is safe from the terror they inspire. His mother, Holly, begins to hear strange sounds in the night coming from the ocean. When she seeks answers from the local Catholic priest and his Japanese housekeeper, they fill her head with stories of shipwrecks and ghosts.
His father, Tim, wanders around the beach, frantically searching for a strange apparition running wild in the dunes. And the boy’s only friend, Nick, becomes helplessly entangled in the eerie power of the drawings. While those around Jack Peter are haunted by what they think they see, only he knows the truth behind the terrors that lurk in the outside world.”
As a newly developing project, The Boy Who Drew Monsters has yet to have a director take the helm, since James Wan is seemingly overseeing this adaptation in his capacity as producer only. With its child-centred story, featuring fear manifesting as monsters, director Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) immediately springs to mind.
However, a version of this tale delivered by noted helmer Jennifer Chambers Lynch (Surveillance, Chained, The Walking Dead) would also be a fascinating thing to behold, given her affinity for horror projects involving the perspective of children. Similarly, with his latest film The Keeping Room showcasing his ability to build terrifying tension with classic horror camera-work, Academy Award nominee Daniel Barber would be an excellent choice.
Regardless, as production begins to move ahead, and the script is finished, we should hear more developments soon.