Amazon is coming for the classics. The streaming outfit is now taking on Peter Weir’s twisted thriller “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” care of a brand-new six-part series. Like Weir’s film, the series is based on Joan Lindsay’s cult novel of the same name, which first spawned Weir’s take back in 1975. This new one doesn’t change the book’s setting — an isolated Australian boarding school in the year 1900 — or its pervasive sense of dread.
Featuring former “Game of Thrones” star Natalie Dormer, along with Lola Bessis, Yael Stone, Anna McGahan, Sibylla Budd, Ruby Rees, and Inez Curro, the series looks to have plenty to intrigue fans of creepy cinema, unsolved mysteries, and the strange magic that unspools when a bunch of hormonal young ladies are thrown together. At the secluded Appleyard College (led by Dormer as headmistress), students adore an annual tradition that involves a picnic at the eponymous Hanging Rock.
Held on Valentine’s Day, the series chronicles a particularly bad picnic: one in which three students go missing. It’s a tantalizing enough premise, but Lindsay’s novel spins it out into fascinating angles, as the inevitable investigation draws in attention (and emotion) from the rest of the school, the girls’ families, and the small town that serves as Appleyard’s home. Weir’s film never provided any easy answers, and spread out over the course of six episodes, we’re kind of hoping that Amazon’s take doesn’t either, but just pulls at still more threads.
The show will premiere at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival, where it will bow on April 28 and be followed by a post-screening Q&A, including director Larysa Kondracki, executive producer Jo Porter, and Dormer.
“Picnic at Hanging Rock” premieres May 25 on Amazon Prime Video.