Double, double, toil and trouble!

I didn’t get to do any work on LUCY because I was busy reading another Black List script: THE LAST WITCH HUNTER by Cory Goodman.

I admit that part of the reason I wanted to read this was because it sounds kinda-sorta like a future script of mine, the difference that mine is about a monster hunter.  And mine is more comedy-adventure, whereas this is fantasy-adventure.  With a vengeance.

The story starts 400-some years ago in Europe.  Witches are a horrific plague on mankind.  Brave warrior Kaulder seeks venegance for the death of his wife and child by leading a fearless band into a witch’s nest to kill as many witches as they can.  A thrilling battles ensues, ending with Kaulder being cursed with immortality.

Jump ahead to the present day.  Witches still exist, but are secretly part of everyday life.  They hide in plain sight.  But one witch in particular, Belial, thinks it’s once again time for witches to reign supreme over humanity.  But Kaulder, now working in conjunction with the Church, has basically become a living weapon and relentlessly seeks to stop him.

If my prose seems a little overly purple,  that should give you an idea of what Goodman’s writing is like.  He takes a sentence and wrings as much out of it as humanly possible.  Somebody doesn’t run down the stairs; they THUNDER as they CHARGE into the fray!  I bet his CAPS LOCK key really got a workout while this was being written.

Goodman also seems to subscribe to the Shane Black School of Screenwriting in that the wide margins are almost a character unto themselves, full of comments directed at the reader.  This continues throughout the whole thing.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it gives off a “too cool for the room” kind of vibe, and becomes a little distracting.

In an effort to really create the world of this script, Goodman includes objects and artifacts relevant to the story, like Kaulder’s witch-killing gun, a certain type of knife, or a ghost warrior (comparable to Harry Potter’s Dementors).  All of these have inventive names WHICH ARE NEVER IDENTIFIED BY THE CHARACTERS.  So if you were watching this, you’d never know Kaulder’s gun is called the Purifier, because while it’s constantly mentioned in the wide margins, HE NEVER CALLS IT THAT.  You’d probably just call it his big-ass gun.

While I enjoyed reading it, it was hard to ignore the unfilmables peppered throughout, including the description of what something smelled like (!), or how ‘the camera slingshots’ around during a fight scene.  Fortunately, there weren’t a lot of moments like that, but it would still work without them.

The whole time I was reading this, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it seemed really familiar, including plot points and characters.  Then it hit me.  This is HELLBOY without the makeup.  Sure, there are a few differences here and there, but for the most part – same story.  Don’t be surprised if they to get Ron Perlman.

The script was picked up just under a year ago by Summit Entertainment with the apparent intent to start a franchise.  Timur Bekmambetov (again?) slated to produce and direct.  IMDB lists it as having a tentative 2012 release date, but that seems a little optimistic.