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Francis Lawrence's Awful End
Constantine director takes on children's fantasy

10 March 2005  |  Written by   

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Don't worry, the headline doesn't mean he's dead. Having just exorcised demons by the score and taken a fair shot at Heaven and Hell inConstantine, Francis Lawrence is alive and kicking and ready for his next big project. Hot on the heels of Lemony Snicket, it's another twisted tale of an unfortunate orphan (sort of) and a series of unhappy occurences. Based on Philip Ardagh's children's fantasy novel, A House Called Awful End, Awful End will be a mixture of live action and animation in a weird alternate world.

The story follows Eddie Dickens, who is sent to live with his Mad Uncle Jack and Even Madder Aunt Maud when his parents develop a disease that turns them yellow and "crinkly round the edges" and causes them to smell of old hot water bottles. When Eddie and the crazy pair set off to return to their house (called Awful End) they have a series of adventures along the way, including an encounter with The Empress of All China and a case of mistaken identity with an orphan from St Horrid's Home for Grateful Orphans.

Not exactly fact-based then, but it’s still considerably lighter than the dark and demonic stylings of Constantine. The book is the first of the Eddie Dickens trilogy, putting it in the same potential franchise territory as Snicket, Harry Potter and the forthcoming Eragon. Lawrence's involvement is probably a good thing – he'll get to show a lighter side than he could amid the metaphysical conundrums of Constantine and make one, y'know, for kids!

What's more, unlike Snicket or Potter, these books have yet to develop a huge fan base, remaining in the realm of the "very successful" rather than the "popular cult". Unfortunately for Lawrence, the pressure's still on, because all those "Film comes to an awful end" lines are going to be very tempting for journalists. Not that we'd succumb to such lazy writing. No, sir, you won't find this story coming to an awful end.

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