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The destructive power of art can be a fascinating theme, although more so in the case of something like Dorian Gray than the Pawnee Indian murals on Parks and Recreation. The international bestselling novel Le Syndrome E, written by French author Franck Thilliez, follows that theme, describing the deadly effect a rare film has upon those who watch it. Combined with a police procedural plotline, the novel reads like a combination of The Ring and Se7en, two of my favorite films of the last twenty years.
Paramount Pictures and Indian Paintbrush Productions are set to bring an adaptation of the novel stateside, with Black Swan screenwriter Mark Heyman will be taking on script duties, according to Deadline. Film Rites’ Steve Zaillian and Garret Basch will be producing, along with Steven Rales and Mark Roybal, who were both executive producers on recent films likeMoonrise Kingdom and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.
The novel is the first in a series and follows Lucie Hennebelle, a female detective hunting down an extremely rare and intensely violent film from the 1950s that is filled with subliminal images that cause those who come into contact with it to meet their maker a little earlier and bloodier than they otherwise would have. Hennebelle joins up with Paris detective Inspector Franck Sharko to figure out how the film is connected to a group of five murdered men, and soon find themselves caught up in the middle of an international mystery, twisting the story through politics, religion and neurological science, tackling the very notion of humanity and how it can be used negatively.
Heyman, whose career started as an assistant to director Darren Aronofsky, will have a busy year ahead of him. He’s already written The Skeleton Twins, a death-cheating dram-com with Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson, and Bill Hader, as well as the adaptation of the Max Barry genre-mashing novel Machine Man, which tells the tale of a man whose titanium body customization makes him a target to interested parties.