Josh Schwartz may have made a name for himself by creating Gossip Girl – a show about the interpersonal drama of wealthy New York teens – but that hasn’t stopped him from expanding into new territory. Fox has hired Schwartz to produce a pilot about haunted furniture. Yes, you read that correctly.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the aptly titled Horrorstör – based on a Grady Hendrix novel – the pilot will focus on a 26-year-old named Amy, and her newfound sobriety, as she begins working at an Ikea-esque furniture retailer: ORSK. Things seem to be going well for her as she builds a new life for herself within the walls of ORSK, until she begins to notice odd happenings around the store. Eventually, the truth makes itself known: the store – and the furniture that inhabits it – has a sinister supernatural quality that fulfills and distorts the desires of those who buy there.
According to sources, Schwartz will share writing duties with Michael Vukadinovich in addition to executive producing the project with Stephanie Savage, Gail Berman, and Charlie Kaufman. The project marks a radical departure for Schwartz in terms of genre and style; his most well known exploits in recent years have been the aforementioned Gossip Girl, and Chuck. Berman’s experience on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel make her well suited for another project with a potentially strong female lead, and Charlie Kaufman’s work on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind lends the right amount of cerebral gravitas necessary for a risky gambit such as this.
Although the pilot will not directly reference the DIY furniture giant it parodies, the veiling of ORSK as an Ikea stand-in seems thin at best. Hollywood has a long history of lampooning the superstore and its inherent silliness – ranging from Fight Club to Ted to (500) Days of Summer, just to name a few. The novel upon which the drama takes inspiration even formats itself in the manner of a furniture catalogue.
There’s an undeniable blend of humor and horror here; it comes off as Night at the Museum, meets The Monkey’s Paw in some ways. The added element of Amy’s addiction recovery creates added tension both in how people will respond to her claims, and whether or not she thinks she’s losing it – a narrative convention also employed by 2013’s Evil Dead remake.
While certainly a fresh concept for modern television, the premise also seems to play to the increasing prevalence of horror themed programming on television today – see: Scream, American Horror Story. Based on his resume, Schwartz’ involvement in the project seemingly guarantees a balance of humor and raw pathos that will appeal to a younger demographic. Time will tell if Horrorstör makes us laugh, scream, or yawn.