Frank Khalfoun Reopens Amityville

Maniac director comes aboard for Blumhouse

The Amityville Horror (2005)It's nine years since we last experienced an Amityville Horror, in the form of Andrew Douglas's remake with Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George. Since then there's been the brilliant documentary My Amityville Horror, picking up with the real-life Amityville "survivor" Daniel Lutz to genuinely alarming effect, but more familiarly fictionalised versions of the story have been languishing in development hell for years. Hannibal Classics' Amityville Legacy remains there, but the Weinsteins' The Amityville Tapes has just resurfaced and finally been given the green light. Franck Khalfoun (the Maniac remake) is directing, and BD are also reporting that Jennifer Jason Leigh will star.

This Amityville has been in the works since before all the problems at MGM (remember those?), and comes as part of the Weinsteins' / Dimension's Miramax deal to revisit their "library" and produce sequels to established properties.

Hannibal's Legacy was going to be based on an elderly Amityville tie-in novel (which has been plundered in the series twice before already), but The Lost Tapes, in its early form, was an original screenplay immediately following the first film and the 1976 Jay Anson novel. The plot as it stood a couple of years ago saw a team of journalists, researchers and clergy heading to the Amityville house and into danger they couldn't possibly have anticipated because they hadn't seen the other nine films.

The Tapes in that title were to have constituted the found footage with which a TV news hack pieces together the paranormal activity at the haunted hill house, but BD believes that angle has now been dropped, and we're no longer looking at a found footage affair after all.

The original screenplay was by Casey La Scala (an exec producer on Donnie Darko) and Daniel Farrands (who wrote Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers), but the extent to which that's changed remains to be seen. BD's sources suggest that Leigh's role is that of a single mother moving into the infamous address with her three kids, leading to flies and "Get out!" and so on. Bella Thorne (Disney's TV series Shake It Up!) is looking to play one of Leigh's daughters.

La Scala and Farrands were both also down to direct in days of yore, but that's clearly no longer the case now that Khalfoun has arrived. Jason Blum, however, is still producing via his ubiquitous Blumhouse banner, and pre-production is underway right now. The currently penciled-in release date is January 2 next year.