By Peter Martin
Whenever I hear about esteemed literary or cinematic figures dipping their toes into horror waters, I always picture them holding their noses as they're running to the bank to cash their checks. They know horror sells (as long as it's decent), and they know horror fans are uncommonly broadminded, so I always feel like they're invading our territory just to try and take advantage of us and make a buck. On the other hand, who'd think that a high-minded director like Stanley Kubrick could make a spooky picture, or that Martin Stinkin' Scorsese might have made a ghost story out of Shutter Island?
All that to say, I'm keeping an open mind about Michael Cunningham's original script for Beautiful Girl, "a scary genre thriller," according to Variety, about a "shy but brainy high school girl who returns for senior year after having slimmed down six dress sizes. She finds herself flirting with the handsome English lit teacher, but the mutual crush turns deadly when the teacher's obsession with the student compels him to exact maniacal revenge on everyone who was cruel to her." Screen Gems bought the rights to the script.
Cunningham won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Hours, adapted his own novel, A Home at the End of the World, for the screen, and co-adapted Susan Minot's novel, Evening. None of those projects scream "maniacal revenge," but the dude is supposedly a "genre junkie" and has reportedly argued about the merits of Eli Roth's Hostel flicks (which actually isn't a good sign, since it's obvious that the sequel blows chunks). We'll see if he more closely resembles Sean S. Cunningham or Arnie Cunningham. Either one would be better than the horror of The Hours.