Is there any villain more terrifying than a head cheerleader? Any battlefield more brutal than high school? Megan Abbott's crime thriller novel Dare Me explores these questions and more as it narrates the turmoil, and death, that befalls a group of cheerleaders after they are assigned a new coach who is determined to push them into becoming their very best - even if it means turning them against one another.
The novel was published last year to generally very positive reviews and was optioned for a screen adaptation by Fox 2000 as early as August 2012. Now it appears that the gears of progress are turning on this sordid tale of backstabbing cheerleaders and their ruthless coach.
Deadline reports that Karen Rosenfelt (Twilight, The Devil Wears Prada) is producing a film adaptation of Dare Me, based on a script written by Abbott herself. Michael Sucsy is set to direct, and Fox 2000 is "courting" Thor star Natalie Portman for a role, potentially the lead.
Though he's still a relative newcomer as a director, Sucsy sounds like a decent fit for a film geared towards a female audience, since his biggest hit to date was The Vow: last year's Valentine's Day romance in which Rachel McAdams plays a woman who loses all memory of her husband (Channing Tatum) after a car accident, forcing him to make her fall in love with him all over again. A talent for making such an irrepressibly slushy story work, however, doesn't necessarily mean that Sucsy will have what it takes to give Dare Me the bite of Heathers or even Mean Girls.
Natalie Portman has been very preoccupied of late with Jane Got a Gun, the indie film that she is producing and starring in. It has suffered multiple setbacks, including a director who abandoned the project on the first day of filming and a cast that has been ever-shifting due to the number of male principals that have joined the film and then left it again.
With Jane Got a Gun finally nearing the end of its revised production schedule, however, perhaps Portman will take the role in Dare Me as a way to wind down. At 32, she's a pretty likely candidate for the role of the cheerleading coach, but is probably still fresh-faced enough (at least, in Hollywood casting logic) to play one of the students.
Dare Me doesn't yet have a release date, but we'll let you know if Portman ends up taking the role.