Neil Jordan To Direct Heart-Shaped Box

The new novel by Stephen King Jr.

by empire |
Published on

It’s always good to hear that Irish director Neil Jordan has got a new project, but today’s news that he’s signed on to direct an adaptation of horror novel, Heart-Shaped Box, is particularly exciting – and not least because Empire has just, as it happens, finished the novel, by American author Joe Hill, and it's frickin' excellent.

A brutal but moving, highly original tale of an aging rock star who buys a ghost on an internet auction site, only for it to turn out to be a vengeful spirit, intent on making the musician pay for a past indiscretion, Heart-Shaped Box crackles and pulses with the energy and creativity of a young Stephen King – which may not be surprising, given that Joe Hill is actually Stephen King’s son.

The pen-name, actually Hill’s first and middle names, was chosen to try to escape his father’s shadow – that didn’t last long, obviously, as the secret soon got out – but if he continues to deliver prose as startling and haunting as he does in Heart-Shaped Box, his dad may be the one to start worrying about creeping shadows.

Anyway, the book was snapped up by Akiva Goldsman – rumour has it that he wasn’t aware of Hill’s true identity when he did so, and Empire likes to think that’s the case – a while back, but the ex-Batman & Robin screenwriter will merely produce the movie, leaving Jordan himself to write the screenplay.

And what potential he has, too. A brave combination of ghost story and road movie, Heart-Shaped Box has plenty of potential for major scares as the omnipresent ghost tries to drive the singer, Jude Coyne, insane. There are also great roles in store – for the fiftysomething actor (although they could go younger) who’ll play the likeable but amoral Coyne, the two actresses who assay the roles of his Goth girlfriends, past and present and, last but not least, whoever bags the role of Craddock, the loathsome, evil spirit who dogs Coyne’s every step.

Jordan, of course, has decent form in the horror genre. We’ll ignore In Dreams – most other people seemed to, anyway – but The Company Of Wolves remains a strong entry, and Heart-Shaped Box, with its ruminations on the power of the past tempered by a driving ticking clock structure, promises much. We’re going to be all over this like a dead man’s suit.

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