While writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn has spent the bulk of his career making films based on his own scripts, from the Pusher trilogy he made early in his career to the recently released Only God Forgives, that hasn't always exclusively been the case. Drive, the film many would consider the director's best work, was actually penned by screenwriter Hossein Amini based on the book by James Sallis - and now for Refn's next project he will once again be asking for outside help in the writing department. London's Evening Standard has learned that Polly Stenham, an up-and-coming playwright in the UK, has been tasked with writing the script for Refn's next work, an "all female horror film" that will be titled I Walk With The Dead.
It would seem that at least part of the reason why the director has hired a female writer is because of his personal difficulty writing female characters. "He’s got a lot of stick for doing films some people think are violently misogynistic,” Stenham told the newspaper. “So he approached me with the idea of doing something different.” As the newspaper points out, Refn has been upfront about this weak area in the past and has a quote from the filmmaker saying,
“I always set out wanting to make films about women but it always ends up being about men. Maybe it’s because I don’t know how to write them.”
The project itself has actually been in the works for a few years now, Refn discussing the film even before he began work on Only God Forgives. In 2011 it was suggested that Drive ingenue Carey Mulligan could star in the movie, and at the time it was being described as a "sex thriller." The Standard asked Stenham for more details about the plot, but she remained tight-lipped. Asked what we could expect in terms of violence and psychological thrillers the playwright said, "It’s going to have a bit of everything."
At age 27, Stenham is one of the UK's hottest writers for the stage. At age 19 she wrote her first play, The Face, which wound up being performed at the Royal Court Theatre with Doctor Who's Matt Smith and Lindsay Duncan (Alice in Wonderland) starring. Working on I Walk With The Dead may not end up being the only work she does for the world of cinema, as she is also currently adapting her second play, Tusk, Tusk, for a feature.
While Refn does have some other irons in the fire, I Walk With The Dead could end up being his next directorial effort. The filmmaker revealed earlier this month that his remake of Logan's Run is now dead in the water, so that could end up being a hole in the director's schedule that the horror film could fill.