Millenium Films’ recently acquired project Eliza Graves already has a number of solid ingredients that make it worth keeping an eye on, not the least of which is the choice of Brad Anderson (The Machinist, The Call) as director. Writer Joseph Gangemi’s screenplay was pitched and bought at the American Film Market last October, and is based on an early story by Edgar Allan Poe.
Now, according to a recent report, Kate Beckinsale is in negotiations to play the title role, and with no other confirmed commitments ahead for her this year, it seems as though she has a good chance of being cast.
The original story on which Eliza Graves is based – The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether – is a dark comedy about a wandering traveller who, out of curiosity, investigates an insane asylum that is reputed to employ a highly liberal method of treatment that allows patients to wander freely about the grounds, and encourages the doctors to freely indulge and even encourage their delusions. Upon arriving at the asylum, however, the traveler discovers the patients locked away in cells and is told that an incident occurred a few weeks prior that forced the suspension of the ‘soothing system’.
Gangemi’s script has apparently changed a few details and fleshed out the story. The main character is now a Harvard Medical School graduate, the eponymous Eliza Graves, who arrives at the asylum and begins falling for one of the doctors there only to discover – like the protagonist of Poe’s story – that all is not as it seems.
Beckinsale is a familiar face to horror fans, having played the lead in three Underworld films and the escape-the-room thriller Vacancy. Brad Anderson seems like an excellent choice for director, having launched his career with the insidiously creepy Session 9, which was also set in an old insane asylum and also explored the subject of insanity. Oren Peli, creator of Paranormal Activity, is onboard as a producer, along with Bruce Davey and Mel Gibson.
In its premise, Eliza Graves sounds similar to films like William Butler’s decent 2004 horror film Madhouse and Martin Scorsese’s psychological thriller Shutter Island. It seems that mental hospitals are deep wells for potential nightmare fuel, though the setting isn’t always enough to save a fundamentally bad film (anyone remember Gothika?).
Eliza Graves is scheduled to begin shooting in Bulgaria on June 21st. We’ll keep you updated on any further casting news.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter