There’s always been an element of the macabre and a sense of danger to Nicolas Winding Refn’s films. From his 2008 film Bronson (which featured a breakthrough performance from actor Tom Hardy) to his 2011 breakout hit Drive to last years’ divisive revenge thriller Only God Forgives, the Danish filmmaker has carved a career out of mixing the unsettling, disturbing and violent. So it makes sense that he should be courted for the horror project The Bringing, which is being set up at Sony from a spec script by Brandon and Phillip Murphy.
The Bringing is based on a real-life event that took place at the Cecil Hotel, located in Downtown Los Angeles. In 2013, a 21-year-old Canadian student Elisa Lam was found dead. Bizarrely and eerily, her body was found in the water tank located on the roof of the hotel. Adding more mystery to the story was the strange events that took place before the young woman’s untimely death: she was seen behaving strangely in the hotel’s elevator, of which was captured by camera. In real life, investigators ruled Lam’s death as accidental drowning. The film chronicles the investigation. The material seems ripe for a visionary like Refn to come in and bring his signature flair (and likely a large dash of red on the production design – one of the filmmakers’ traits.)
More so, it will be interesting to see if Refn mines the location itself for further mystery and horror. The Cecil Hotel, which opened its doors in 1927, has a disturbing history of its own. The strange events of the Elisa Lam death is just a blip on its sordid history. Serial killers Richard Ramierez and Jack Unterweger both called the hotel home and the Cecil Hotel is rumored to be one of the last places Elizabeth Short was seen before her murder. Short, was given the nickname “The Black Dahlia,” and served as cautionary tale of the dangers of Hollywood dreams as well as endless curiosity subject in movies as well. There’s a lot for Refn to chew on, which could mark The Bringing as something a bit deeper than a run of the mill horror thriller.
Nothing is confirmed as of yet, negotiations between Sony and Refn will likely resume after the completion of the just underway Cannes Film Festival, where Refn is currently serving on the main competition jury. Refn won the Best Director prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival for his acclaimed noir Drive, which starred Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. This would mark his first studio film. We will report the latest on The Bringing as details become available.