‘Shazam!’ Director David F. Sandberg Returning to Horror with ‘The Culling’

     June 22, 2020

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David F. Sandberg is prolific, even in quarantine. The filmmaker got everyone’s attention as Pony Smasher, a YouTube channel devoted to low/no budget horror shorts and thorough breakdowns of how exactly he did it. Then, after he broke through into the feature film space with Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation, and even after he broke into the big budget superhero space with DC’s Shazam!, Sandberg… returned to making low/no budget horror shorts and thorough breakdowns while quarantined! Clearly, the man loves making horror. Which makes me excited for his next feature-length project, just announced (via The Wrap).

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Image via Warner Bros. / New Line Cinema

The Culling is a spec script written by burgeoning writer Stephen Herman about a priest going through some shit. He secludes himself to a cabin in the middle of the woods to try and battle the demon who tormented him and his family as a child, and vanquish his demons for good. Sandberg will be directing the script and producing it through his newly formed Mångata production shingle (alongside his regular collaborator Lotta Losten). The whole project will be released by Lionsgate, with the assistance of Good Fear Content producers Scott Stoops, Chris Bender, and Jake Weiner.

This project sounds like catnip to me, combining the “tortured priest undergoing a reckoning” thrills of an Exorcist with a “horrific events in a cabin in the woods” thrills of a, uh, Cabin in the Woods — not to mention the emotional underpinning at the core of the story regarding the priest’s family. Sandberg’s narrative decisions in Lights Out continue to bump me, but it’s obvious (particularly in the underrated Annabelle: Creation) that he knows how to craft one helluva horror set piece with not much more than spirit and ingenuity. It will be intriguing to see him return back to this space, lift the voice of an upcoming writer, and continue to do so with his newly announced production shingle.

Until we hear more about The Culling, please do check out Sandberg’s wonderful trolling of some particularly aggressive DCEU fans. 

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