Book to Box Office: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Based On: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Expected Release Date: TBA 2017

Director: Stacie Passon

Summary: Merricat Blackwood lives with her older sister Constance and wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian in isolation from their village after several members of their family died from arsenic poisoning. For years, Merricat’s magic has seemingly protected their family from harm, but the arrival of Cousin Charles threatens their small family and the dark secret they’ve been hiding.

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Penguin

Working For It: Shirley Jackson is widely considered to be one of the masters of literary horror, with her works influencing some of our favorites from Stephen King to Neil Gaiman. What Jackson presents, and what her successors have followed through with, is a focus on character over traditional horror elements, and the effect of horror on ordinary people in small towns. There’s a distinctly Hitchcockian element to Jackson’s story, which, if handled correctly, could elevate the film above the thrillers and horror movies it influenced. What’s most exciting about the upcoming adaptation is the cast. Taissa Farmiga as Merricat, Alexandra Daddario as Constance, Crispin Glover as Uncle Julian, and Sebastian Stan as Cousin Charles all make for impeccable casting. We don’t have a thing to worry about when it comes to the performances. Farmiga, whose star has been growing over the years, will of course be the performance that has to hold everything together. We’ve seen Farmiga play roles similar to Merricat before, so there’s no doubt she’ll do well, but hopefully she’ll bring an unexpected element to the characters that will catch audiences off guard.

Working Against It: Whenever it comes to adapting films that served as the inspiration for so many other works, there’s always the risk of the story feeling stale. As our writer Sean Fallon noted, there are clear similarities between We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Park Chan-wook’s film, Stoker. And Stoker is a best case comparison, as there are snippets of both tone and plot in the novel that can be found in everything from the more popular thriller/horror movies to the Lifetime thriller of the week. While we expect some details of the narrative and characters to change in the adaptation process, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is such a tightly written novel that it doesn’t leave much room for creative liberties, without changing the nature of Jackson’s story.

Wild Card: Stacie Passon remains the film’s biggest wild card. Her previous film Concussion (2013) was a success at Sundance and garnered attention from several prestigious film festivals. With one film under her belt, she’s a director who will still be defining her voice for years to come. This makes her adaptation of We Have Always Lived in a Castle an exciting prospect, but we have to admit that we don’t know exactly what to expect. It is inarguably fantastic that there’s a woman helming the film, given that it is women who drive the story. A secondary, but more minor wild card is Crispin Glover, because you don’t cast Glover in your film without expecting a wild card, and we’re sure he’ll bring something interesting to Julian.

Verdict: We’re fully expecting We Have Always Lived in a Castle to be a good movie. Whether or not it becomes a memorable and unexpected movie will depend a lot on Passon and the cast’s ability to bring an unconventional eye and voice to a story that has become somewhat conventional in its legacy. If Passon can bring as much attention to detail and insight to the village and villagers that surround the Blackwoods as she does to the central family then we may get a very unique look at human connection.

Featured Image: Penguin