To say that Ben Wheatley has been striking while the iron is hot would be an understatement. The director arrived in a huge way last year with the cult fave “Kill List” and didn’t waste much time with a follow up, arriving at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight this spring with black comedy “Sightseers.” And now, he’s already getting ready to roll on his next effort, “Freakshift.”
Wheatley has been talking up the film since last year, and when we chatted with him in January, he shared the project’s ambitious concept. “It’s an adventure/sci-fi thing. It’s like ‘Hill Street Blues,’ ” Wheatley said. “It’s about a crew that’s built up this armored vehicle and they go out and have to respond to 911 calls about these big monsters that have come out of the ground.” He went on to descibe the creatures: “They come out of the ground every night but there are different creatures — there are these massive half-monkey mutant things and loads of weird spiders and shit.” Sounds pretty awesome…and a bit more expensive than anything he’s done to date.
So no surprise then that Wheatley tells Empire “…it’s our first American film. It needs a budget of about $15m, so it’s quite big.” But it is moving forward as Variety reports that production company Lava Bear (who are also behind the recently greenlit “The Rover,” directed by David Michod and set to star Robert Pattinson) will be picking up the project, which Wheatley co-wrote with Amy Jump, with plans to shoot in early 2013. The official logline reveals that the story “is set in a world where monsters rise from the ground and terrorize citizens when night falls. The Freakshift is a band of government-organized misfits and lawbreakers who hunt and kill the creatures for civic duty, sport and money.” So in short, this sounds awesome.
No word yet on what this means for “I, Macrobane,” Wheatley’s project he was developing with Nick Frost set to star. Last year, the director said it would shoot this spring, but that clearly didn’t happen, and with Frost busy this fall on “The World’s End” with pals Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, it looks like we’ll be waiting a bit for that one. But getting “Freakshift” first isn’t a bad deal at all, and we’ll be eager to see who comes on board Wheatley’s most ambitious effort yet.