Did you see DC’s big-screen Shazam! adaptation? It’s pretty delightful, right? At least when, as our own Matt Goldberg pointed out, it’s not being shockingly dark. How did such intense horror imagery sneak its way into a family-friendly, four-quadrant superhero flick? Because it was directed by David F. Sandberg, who broke out with horror hits like Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation before getting scooped up by DC. Now, Sandberg will be combining these two impulses — comic books and horror — into one Netflix package. As reported by Deadline, Sandberg will be adapting horror graphic novel The Unsound into a feature for the streaming service.
If you’re a fan of gothic-tinged horror — particularly works set in spooky insane asylums — you will find much to gleam onto in The Unsound. It’s about a psychiatrist who goes to an asylum where her mother used to work. But she’s not visiting professionally as a consultant. She’s there as a patient. And she will unlock all kinds of dark, bloody secrets about the hospital, her mother, and herself. The original graphic novel comes from writer Cullen Bunn (The Damned) and artist Jack T. Cole (Epicurean’s Exile), who published the piece through BOOM! Studios. Skylar James, whose spec script 29 Mole Street topped the BloodList, will adapt the novel for Netflix.
Here’s my hot take about Sandberg directing this material, which otherwise sounds exactly up my alley. I found his depiction of — and implied solution to — clinical depression in Lights Out to be quite insensitive. Normally I eat up horror films interested in allegorizing mental health struggles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but I found Sandberg’s treatment of the sensitive issues to be way off the mark. With The Unsound also wading into the murky waters of “mental health as horror,” I’m weary of what kind of ill-informed statements he’ll be making next. However — I found Annabelle: Creation to be quite an improvement from Lights Out, and enjoyed the hell out of Shazam! for both its spookiness and sappiness. So perhaps my opinions of him before were… unsound.
For more on Mr. Sandberg, here’s our Shazam! interview with the man.