Richard Kelly has made a career out of dealing with sci-fi or metaphysical elements in such films as Donnie Darko, Southland Tales and most recently The Box. But Kelly appears to be changing things up a bit for his next film, a contemporary thriller entitled Corpus Christi.
Variety is reporting that Kelly will both write and direct Corpus Christi (Latin for "Body of Christ" and the name of a Western Catholic feast), which is described as a more straightforward narrative than what he's used to. The film deals with a very timely subject - the Iraq war, or at least the consequences of it when it comes to the soldiers themselves. Here is Variety's plot description:
Texas-set story concerns an unstable Iraq war veteran who forges a strange friendship with his boss, a wealthy and politically ambitious owner of a supermarket chain.
How exactly the film is a "contemporary thriller" isn't really clear from that plot description but I imagine the proof will be in the pudding. Kelly will be producing the film alongside Sean McKittrick through their Darko Entertainment company. Also producing is fellow director Eli Roth, whom Kelly has known since Roth made Cabin Fever.
Casting for Corpus Christi is already underway but no names are mentioned as of yet - announcements are expected by the end of March. Despite having made what most would call "weird" films, Kelly is no stranger to casting famous faces. Although it was before he became really famous, Donnie Darko starred Jake Gyllenhaal; Southland Tales starred the likes of Dwayne Johnson and Sarah Michelle Gellar; and The Box starred A-lister Cameron Diaz and veteran actor Frank Langella.
Can we expect Corpus Christi to follow suit with famous actors? Or will Kelly cast unknowns to increase the realism and believability? I would love to see the latter but since this is described as a more straightforward film for the director, chances are we'll be seeing the cast littered with known actors.
When Kelly made Donnie Darko a lot of people expected him to be one of the great directors of this young 21st Century, but he has so far not been able to reach the critical success of his debut feature. Southland Tales was too far wrapped up in its own weirdness to appeal to most people (I personally really dug it) and although it was his most financially successful film to date ($33 million at the worldwide box office), The Box still didn't reach Darko's level of quality.
I'll be interested to see how Kelly does with a film that's more straightforward than what he's used to (although he did write the slightly more conventional crime thriller Domino back in 2005), but that's not to say some of his trademark weird elements won't be thrown into the mix. Donnie Darko is one of my all-time favorite movies so naturally I'm interested in whatever Kelly puts out next.
The plan is to start shooting Corpus Christi this July with a release date TBA.