Editor’s Note: October was a busy month so this couldn’t get scheduled. That said, anything discussing comics becoming movies are perpetual fodder in the Matrix. Good read alert. Enjoy…
Horror has had no shortage of box office success especially in the wake of Andy Muschetti’s two-part IT adaptation that raked in record earnings. In an age of big blockbusters and low-budget indie films trying to compete for a sliver of attention, horror continues to be low risk and yield high rewards for studios.
There is always a demand for new horror in theaters.
Recently, news was announced that famed comic book writers Scott Snyder’s and Charlie Soule‘s upcoming creator-owned comic series, Undiscovered Country, was in the midst of a bidding war for the film rights that settled into a seven-figure deal for New Republic Pictures. Both writers set to write the script and executive produce the picture.
Snyder has become a huge name in comics over the past decade as the prose-turned-comics writer has dominated the DC Universe with his run on ‘Batman’ with artist Greg Capullo.
But with this massive deal this got me thinking about one of Scott Snyder’s other indie books that sold its film rights as well: the horror story from Image Comics, Wytches.
What is Wytches?
Wytches is a six-issue limited series (although Snyder has expressed hopes of writing a second volume) with artwork by an artist named “Jock.” It follows a family who moves into a small New Hampshire town that holds supernatural secrets where people “pledge” others to these creatures named Wytches in order to gain something they desire.
This is the type of story that is a non-stop web of surprises, twists, characters, and grotesque imagery. The art from Jock is layered digitally to dirty the image, giving it this calculated ugliness that adds to the disturbing story. Part of me would love to this see this as an R-Rated hand-drawn animated movie. Yet, given the current landscape of animation in movies that probably won’t happen.
It’s a story that has everything you could want in horror, disturbing moments and a refreshing take on witches mythology. Most importantly, its lead characters are ones that elicit empathy. Wytches has something to say about how we treat our neighbors and our families. Snyder repeatedly stated this is a deeply personal story that emanates from deep within his childhood.
Why Should it Be a Movie?
Scott Snyder has said in numerous interviews that Stephen King has been a big influence on him as a writer, which isn’t hard to see in this story. The New England setting, the examination of writer characters, and the themes of generational trauma are hallmarks of King.
That isn’t to say this is just a riff on King because Snyder uses his own struggles with vices as part of the story’s foundations providing him a more personal vantage point.
Still, audiences are clamoring for stories like this. Even Mike Flanagan’s Haunting of Hill House adaptation owed more to King than the original author Shirley Jackson in how it structured and the story it told (which has an oddly beautiful circular nature to it since Jackson was a major influence on King).
The marketplace is there for this story. Horror is going through a string of success, not just in terms of box office but also quality, which hasn’t been seen since the 1970s. Stephen King-inspired stories are hugely popular now and Scott Snyder is finding himself in an ever-increasing spotlight in pop culture especially with his new series, Undiscovered Country.
It’s also worth noting that the rights were acquired by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment in 2014, which has produced such films as Ad Astra, 12 Years a Slave, and Moonlight.
So, Snyder’s story has already found a production company to call home and one with a string of high quality success. I have little doubts that Plan B can put together a talented crew behind this story.
At the end of the day, the marketplace potential is great (no doubt important for a studio) but this story would be great for film simply because it’s a great story.
It’s a story with great visual sense and amazing art. This would come across as a beautiful story of a family set against the backdrop of extreme violence and grotesque imagery that will make your skin crawl. If that doesn’t sound like a perfect story for a horror film then I don’t know what does?
Wytches is one of my favorite comics, it’s well worth reading this October and hopefully one day we will see Snyder’s masterwork translated onto the screen.
All Images Courtesy of Image Comics (2014-2015)