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Can you take a real-life tragedy and turn it into the film? Sure, if you're making it as a drama-- that's practically the backbone of Oscar bait. But can you take a real-life tragedy, fictionalize it a bit, and rework it as a horror film? That's a whole lot dicier.
But FilmDistrict is willing to give it a shot, as Variety reports they will co-finance The Last Word, a supernatural horror film based on the documentary of the same name. FilmDistrict’s first film was Insidious, and they last distributed the Evil Dead remake, so they’re quite familiar with genre fare. But this, at least on paper, is markedly different from anything they’ve worked with before.
In case you’ve never seen Jesse Quackenbush’s nerve-jangling documentary – and seek it out when possible – it’s about the death of Johnny Frank Garrett, the mentally retarded man who was convicted and executed for the rape and murder of a 76-year-old nun in Amarillo, Texas, when Garrett was 17. However, sixteen years after his execution, new evidence arose that completely exonerated him, proving that Texas killed the wrong man on that fateful day. And this is presumably where the fictionalized film would take things to extremes, bringing Garrett back to take revenge on those who wronged him. There’s no real mention of the plot, but we can all assume, can’t we? It’s almost like The Frighteners, if Gary Busey were as mental as his father.
Peter Facinelli and Rob DeFranco’s A7SLE will be producing. The film’s concept developed in-house and then screenwriter Ben Ketai was brought in. Ketai was supposed to be a part of that 30 Days of Night sequel that never happened but did some webisodes instead, and will be putting together Crackle’s horror series Chosen.
Check out the following video for a more in depth look at the documentary itself and try to picture everyone with blood on their faces, and CGI spirits spinning their heads around to face the camera.