Penny Dread­ful

New projects abound: a su­per­model vamp, a mod­ern ur­ban leg­end and a mer­man

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Opinion -

THE IN­TER­NET’S OWN BOY

Could The Slen­der Man be the Fifty Shades Of Grey of hor­ror? Not be­cause it’s grim and pervy (we had that first any­way – Chris­tian Grey, meet Pin­head...), but be­cause he’s a phe­nom­e­non born of the in­ter­net, given life by fans, that’s about to be made into what could be a ma­jor movie fran­chise. Slen­der Man was the brain­child of a hor­ror fo­rum user called Eric Knud­sen. In 2009 he made a creepy Pho­to­shop of a face­less bloke with long arms and a black suit herd­ing a group of chil­dren, which he cap­tioned with a bit of mythol­ogy about how the Slen­der Man ab­ducted kids and made them do ter­ri­ble things. The in­ter­net picked it up and ran with it, pro­duc­ing sto­ries, comics, art and videogames around the char­ac­ter un­til he had a life of his own (so much so that in 2014 two 12-year-old girls who stabbed an­other 12-year-old claimed it was to please Slen­der Man. Though one of them also said she talked to Lord Volde­mort and one of the Teenage Mu­tant Ninja Tur­tles.) Slen­der Man is a brand with­out a sin­gle piece of “of­fi­cial” com­mer­cial con­tent so far. Screen Gems (owned by Sony) are in ne­go­ti­a­tions on the pic, and I’ll be fas­ci­nated to see what they do.

DOWN WITH THE COOL KIDS

Vam­pires and the an­tichrist are about to get in­die-art­house makeovers with two new movies on their way. Drive di­rec­tor Ni­co­las Wind­ing Refn’s The Neon De­mon will pre­miere at Cannes in May – a dark tale set in the world of high fash­ion star­ring Elle Fan­ning. Ex­pect glossy gore, beau­ti­ful peo­ple and a me­an­der­ing pace. Then The Omen is get­ting a pre­quel with Af­ter­school and Si­mon Killer di­rec­tor An­to­nio Cam­pos at the helm. Do we need an­other Omen movie (af­ter di­min­ish­ing re­turns on 1-4 and a rub­bish re­make)? No. But might this be good? Yes! It’ll be called The

First Omen and ex­plore what hap­pened be­fore Damien’s birth. Given that he was sup­pos­edly born of a jackal the mind bog­gles at ex­actly what weird­ness this will en­tail. Cam­pos’s pre­vi­ous films were im­bued with quiet me­nace, though, which could be just the thing to bring the fran­chise back to life. Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing The Neon De­mon.

RE­TURN OF THE KING

This month feels like it’s been a bit of a Stephen King-athon. Not only is It back in the frame, with a Septem­ber 2017 re­lease date an­nounced and Mama di­rec­tor An­dres Muschi­etti re­plac­ing Cary Fuku­naga, but also The Dark Tower is gain­ing trac­tion with Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba joined by new cast mem­bers Fran Kranz, Michael Bar­bieri and Kath­eryn Win­nick. Plus I got a chance to check out Cell – out 26 Au­gust. It’s okay. I wish I could wax more lyri­cal. John Cu­sack, Sa­muel L Jack­son and Or­phan star Is­abelle Fuhrman are like­able leads, but as a whole it feels a bit cheap. The gist: a mo­bile sig­nal causes ev­ery­one on their phones at that time to start at­tack­ing each other, zom­bie-style. Only as they evolve they’re not zom­bies, they’re more like ants work­ing as a colony pos­sessed by a mys­te­ri­ous stranger that Cu­sack seems to have had pre­mo­ni­tions about. In­ter­est­ing premise but the road movie struc­ture – Cu­sack search­ing for his kid – is a bit te­dious and the gut-punch set­piece end­ing is un­der­mined by it be­ing re­ally dark (ac­tu­ally, not the­mat­i­cally).

UN­DER­WA­TER LOVE

Guillermo del Toro’s new movie is a Cold War ro­mance about a mer­man! It’s called The Shape Of Wa­ter , Richard Jenk­ins, Sally Hawkins and Oc­tavia Spencer are thus far on board, and it might cen­tre around a woman who falls in love with an am­phib­ian in Amer­ica in 1963. Okay, this is straight from the ru­mour mill. But let it be true!

More of those zom­bie types in Cell. Will the new It match up to the orig­i­nal?

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