Blackwood Boarding School hides a horrific secret, and it’s up to problem-teen Kit Gordy and her friends to figure it out in the upcoming film Down a Dark Hall. An adaptation of Lois Duncan’s supernatural YA novel by the same name, the film was just announced for release courtesy of Lionsgate, and features Uma Thurman in an eye-catching role as the headmistress of Blackwood, Madame Duret.
When Kit (AnnaSophia Robb) gets sent to the boarding school by her mother after a run-in with the law, she soon learns that she’ll be sharing the expansive grounds with four other young women from similarly troubled backgrounds. Unfortunately, it’s just them and the adults, with no other students in sight. The group eventually builds a shaky Mystery Inc.-like team, exploring the mysterious hallways of their temporary home, and uncovering hidden paranormal dangers within that were clearly not outlined in the brochure.
The Down a Dark Hall book was first optioned back in 2013 by the author of the best-selling Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer. The film features several young women in central roles, including AnnaSophia Robb (The Carrie Diaries) as the lead, Lost in Space’s Taylor Russell, and Teen Wolf’s Victoria Moroles. Thurman is easily the most recognizable star, and the new trailer features an unusually cryptic accent for the veteran actress.
Moviegoers might know Lois Duncan’s name from I Know What You Did Last Summer, the film that was originally adapted in the late 90s from her 1973 novel, eventually becoming a minor franchise. Down a Dark Hall looks to be considerably different territory, with a gothic horror type of feel, accented by the grim lighting and high ceilings of the elegant mansion.
Rodrigo Cortés (Buried) directs an adapted screenplay by Michael Goldbach and Chris Sparling, crafting what looks like a late-summer PG-13 spooky potboiler. For a teen-oriented thriller, the trailer might not leave a whole lot to the imagination; it clearly depicts a violent pale-skinned demonic boogeyman who is probably not on the official school roster, garbed in a cloak and skulking around, as well as some possession and satanic ritual theatrics, complete with candles and chants.
As for Meyer, her most recent production credit had nothing to do with sparkly vampires — she produced an adaptation of The Host, her best-selling sci-fi romance novel, back in 2013. While The Host failed to find a similarly enthusiastic film audience, perhaps a Lois Duncan novel will result in a box office success this time around.
Down A Dark Hall hits theaters on August 17.