Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum are teaming up for the remake of MGM’s cult-classic horror pic The Town That Dreaded Sundown.
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon is in negotiations to direct the movie, which already has a script by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the playwright who wrote MGM’s upcoming remake of Carrie.
Sundown, released in 1976, was in many ways a precursor to the found-footage phenomenon that stalks the horror genre today. The movie, directed by Charles B. Pierce, fictionally tells in documentary style, complete with a voice-over, “true events” that occurred in and around Texarkana in 1946.
Over a period of months, a serial killer dubbed the Phantom Killer murdered several people, throwing communities into fear. He was never caught.
MGM is aiming to produce the remake on a low budget and keep the original’s cinema verite style. The remake is said to have horror-movie tones and elements of a procedural in the vein of David Fincher’s Zodiac. The project is eyeing a spring start and had been operating under a veil of secrecy until Murphy revealed certain details during a press screening of the second season finale for FX’s horror anthology he co-created, American Horror Story.
Murphy said that while working on his next directorial project, Normal Heart, with Blum, the two began a dialogue about horror movies. Blum is considered a maestro of the low-budget found-footage genre, with credits such as the Paranormal Activity franchise.
“The movie I was the most freaked out by as a child was this movie that no one ever saw called The Town That Dreaded Sundown,” Murphy said during the Q&A. “I had just started to babysit my brother, and the ads for that movie would come on and I’d get freaked out. I went to (Blum) with this and MGM was gracious enough to let us do it with them. So we’re doing a modern-day version remake, weird meta thing with (it).”
Gomez-Rejon is an in-demand second unit director who has worked on movies such as Babel and Argo. He did second unit on Murphy’s feature Eat Pray Love, which led to him working as a director on Murphy’s Fox musical Glee. That put him on the path to direct episodes of American Horror Story. Gomez-Rejon earned high praise from Murphy for his direction of Wednesday’s second season AHS finale, with the helmer being tapped a producer who will direct every third episode of the FX series next season.
Gomez-Rejon is repped by WME and Kleinberg Lopez.