Back in 2011 there were reports that, while James Franco had hit a wall with his planned adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, he was sticking with the author and turning to the earlier novel Child Of God instead. A few months later it was aparently shooting, although there were questions whether that was merely toe-in-the-water test footage (he shot some of his Faulkner adaptation As I Lay Dying before he had any kind of production deal or green light, and had put together as much as twenty minutes of Blood Meridian). The rest was silence, until the announcement that Child Of God would be part of the line-up at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival. And heralding that, here's a brief teaser trailer.
Not much going on there, but you could argue it suggests a grimy handheld aesthetic, and the music is pleasant. The man glowering into the camera is Scott Haze, playing McCarthy's "troubled" Lester Ballard. The voiceover narration is straight from the novel.
What's it all about? Even more bleak than Blood Meridian (if that were possible), Child Of God is a slim volume with Ballard at its core. A backwoodsman infamous around his small town, he has a run-in with the law and some landowners and ends up living in a cave in the East Tennessee hills, indulging a new-found enthusiasm for murder and necrophilia.
Tim Blake Nelson plays the sheriff with Jim Parrack his deputy, and Franco himself is playing Jerry, who is mentioned only once in the book as a member of a vigilante mob with a taste for moonshine. Maybe his role's been much-expanded, or maybe it's just a cameo.
There's no release date for the film yet, but it's heading to TIFF and will also play in Venice at the end of this month. Franco's As I Lay Dying gets a limited release in the States at the end of September. Ridley Scott's The Counsellor, based on an original screenplay by McCarthy, is out in the UK on November 15.