After breaking onto the scene with his 2013 horror film Mama, director Andrés Muschietti has been attached to a number of high-profile projects, but we’ve yet to see any of them realized on the big screen. He departed Universal’s planned reboot of The Mummy last year while landing a gig adapting Shadow of the Colossus for Sony. When Cary Fukunaga left the It remake, Muschietti was the man chosen to step in as director. But since those particular projects don’t have an official release date just yet, Muschietti is adding another adaptation to his director’s slate.
As THR reports, Muschietti will direct The Witch of Lime Street, an adaptation of a Harry Houdini story which he’ll also co-produce along with Barbara Muschietti. The David Jaher book, the full title of which is “The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World”, centers on the famous early 20th century magician and his quest to unmask a spiritualist charlatan known to her followers simply as Margery. Among her admirers was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a man known for crafting twisting tales of logic and deduction for Sherlock Holmes but was the psychic medium’s most vocal defender. With the announcement that Muschietti will be helming this story, I fully expect it to trip into the occult and the fantastic rather than a straight depiction of the practical Houdini attempting to debunk a fraud. Either way, it should make for an entertaining picture.
Here’s the book synopsis for The Witch of Lime Street (via Amazon):
The 1920s are famous as the golden age of jazz and glamour, but it was also an era of fevered yearning for communion with the spirit world, after the loss of tens of millions in the First World War and the Spanish-flu epidemic. A desperate search for reunion with dead loved ones precipitated a tidal wave of self-proclaimed psychics—and, as reputable media sought stories on occult phenomena, mediums became celebrities.
Against this backdrop, in 1924, the pretty wife of a distinguished Boston surgeon came to embody the raging national debate over Spiritualism, a movement devoted to communication with the dead. Reporters dubbed her the blonde Witch of Lime Street, but she was known to her followers simply as Margery. Her most vocal advocate was none other than Sherlock Holmes’ creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who believed so thoroughly in Margery’s powers that he urged her to enter a controversial contest, sponsored by Scientific American and offering a large cash prize to the first medium declared authentic by its impressive five-man investigative committee. Admired for both her exceptional charm and her dazzling effects, Margery was the best hope for the psychic practice to be empirically verified. Her supernatural gifts beguiled four of the judges. There was only one left to convince…the acclaimed escape artist, Harry Houdini.
David Jaher’s extraordinary debut culminates in the showdown between Houdini, a relentless unmasker of charlatans, and Margery, the nation’s most credible spirit medium. The Witch of Lime Street, the first book to capture their electric public rivalry and the competition that brought them into each other’s orbit, returns us to an oft-mythologized era to deepen our understanding of its history, all while igniting our imagination and engaging with the timeless question: Is there life after death?