In exciting fashion, filmmaker Dee Rees’ profile appears to be on the rise. She’s been steadily raising her game in recent years with the critically admired arthouse drama Pariah (2011) and the Emmy-winning HBO movie Bessie (2015), yet may experience her biggest professional success to date with the upcoming period drama Mudbound (if glowing reviews out of Sundance and a sweet acquisition deal with Netflix are any indication). Now, reportedly the filmmaker is in development on a promising new horror project with Blumhouse Productions, itself fresh from recent successes Get Out and Split.
The news started trickling out first in a New York Times profile of Blumhouse head Jason Blum and appears to have been confirmed by The Tracking Board. The project doesn’t yet have a title, the quick pitch is a film ““centered on the domestic lives of black lesbians in rural America.” The logline itself seemingly plays similarly to the outside the box appeal of Jordan Peele’s Get Out, which has currently earned a staggering $174 million at the North American box office and is one of the best reviewed films of the year.
As the piece in the Times suggests, the trajectory of the working relationship between Rees and Blum occurred organically as the two met at a Bel Air mansion where both speaking to supporters of the Sundance Institute. Pleasantries abounded as Blum praised Mudbound and Rees applauded Get Out before revealing her love of horror films. What may have started as small talk appears to have wound up with a deal for a new project. Rees even commented on the process to Times, saying “I can’t tell you how rare it is that people mean what they say in this business. He’s just letting me make the best possible version of what I want to make.” Still, it’s important to note the project is still in its very stages and further more authoritative confirmations have yet to be revealed.
Blumhouse Productions is still in its early years but has made the most of niche products – typically in the horror genre – on super tiny budgets. The company proved its case with the success of the Paranormal Activity, Insidious and The Purge films. Jason Blum has branched out as well – earning an Oscar nomination for producing the 2014 indie hit Whiplash and two Emmy Awards for producing the iconic HBO documentary The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst and Ryan Murphy’s HBO adaptation of Larry Kramer’s play The Normal Heart. Blum will produce HBO’s upcoming limited series Sharp Objects starring Amy Adams.
Rees will premiere Mudbound later this year. The drama, which centers on two men who return home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi where they struggle to deal with racism and life after war, features a stellar ensemble cast that includes Garrett Hedlund, Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke and Mary J. Blige.
We shall stay tuned.