A boy befriends the monster who comes calling at night. It sounds like a sweet story, something like Monsters Inc, right? Well, A Monster Calls is actually something darker and more disturbing. So instead of the buoyant tone of John Goodman, its filmmakers sought a performer with a bit more gravel to his voice. Cue Liam Neeson.
Screen Daily reports Liam Neeson has signed on to play the titular creature in A Monster Calls, a fantasy drama being produced by Focus Features. The film found its inspiration in Patrick Ness's award-winning children's book. A Monster Calls plot synopsis is as follows:
"At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth."
Liam Neeson will play this ancient creature who shapeshifts from a yew tree in the boy's back yard to a massive, truth-seeking monster. The Screen Daily piece mentions Neeson will join English ingengue Felicity Jones for the film, but doesn't detail what role Jones will have in the A Monster Calls. What we do know is that the book's author Patrick Ness has been hired to draft the adapted screenplay, and the film will be helmed by Spanish director J.A. Bayona, who has won praise for the chilling ghost story The Orphanage and the devastating tsunami drama The Impossible.
Despite being based on a children's book, we expect A Monster Calls to have a scary tone to it. Bayona's background lends to this estimation, but supporting it is the involvement of Belen Atienza, a producer best known for Pan's Labyrinth. And then of course there is the look of the book, teased in this trailer:
A Monster Calls will be live-action, but Neeson is unlikely to be suited up in some sort of tree monster costume as El Ranchito VFX has been brought on board to produce the film's visual effects. From here, it will be fascinating to see what kind of concept art Focus Features might unveil, and what young actor will be brought in to play the movie's 13-year-old hero.
A Monster Calls will open in the U.S. in October of 2016.