Michael Cunningham Goes From Virginia Woolf to Slasher Flick

When you think of the horror genre, the first words that come to mind probably aren’t Pulitzer Prize, Virginia Woolf or the Great American Novel. Along those same lines, if you were to picture the last person to ever write a horror movie, it might be Michael Cunningham. He’s the author who penned the Pulitzer Prize winning novel “The Hours,” which nabbed a bunch of Oscar nominations and a gold statue for Nicole Kidman.

According to Variety, Cunningham has penned a slasher flick called “Beautiful Girl” that had numerous studios clamoring for the rights.

The premise of “Girl” is reminiscent of “Carrie,” but a bit sexier. It centers on a shy and brainy high school girl who starts her senior year having transformed from an ugly duckling into a swan by slimming down a few dress sizes. Not the best message to send, but ok. She begins flirting with her handsome English literature teacher, and he flirts back, but their romance turns from improper to deadly when he begins slashing up and torturing all the students who were mean to her.

Despite his serious and weighty novels, Cunningham is a huge horror fan and has always longed to pen a slasher flick. “While I was writing about Virginia Woolf, my mind was never far removed from the idea of girls in bikinis being hacked up by guys wearing hockey masks, and I vowed that if I ever had a good idea, I would write one of these scary movies,” Cunningham said.

The author hopes that “Girl” will be the first of many horror stories to come from his award-winning pen. “This summer, I will finish a novel where nobody gets anything gouged out of them, but my plan is to then write another idea I have for an actual monster movie. As it turns out, we sometimes find we can do more than one thing in our lives.”

Screen Gems ended up winning the rights to “Girl,” which is fitting since the film’s producer Douglas Wick and Screen Gems’ president Clint Culpepper have spent hours arguing with Cunningham on the merits of torture porn (a la “Hostel”) and slasher flicks. The shoot doesn’t have a start date, or a director, but the premise is nonetheless intriguing and I can’t wait to see what talent is lured in for the onscreen kill.

Have you read or seen “The Hours”? Can you imagine what Cunningham’s take on horror might look like? Who would you like to see settling into the dierctor’s chair for “Beautiful Girl”?